Whatever ends up the outcome of his recruitment, Arizona forward Lawrence Hill will go down in the record books as the first official visitor to Stanford in the 2005 class. As a rule, the very first recruits to make their way to campus in their junior year are the ones with the highest interest. Thus, you can expect some of the best results to come from these early trips. In the case of Hill, however, the timing was atrocious. As he and his father, Larry, flew from Phoenix to San Francisco last Wednesday night, word was just breaking around the country of the move Mike Montgomery was making to the Golden State Warriors. The Hills were visiting Stanford at the greatest moment of weakness the Cardinal program has known since Dr. Tom Davis left for Iowa 18 years ago.
It might perhaps have been a risky move for Hill and Stanford to move forward with this scheduled official visit - for both parties. The Glendale (Ariz.) junior standout has held the Cardinal in high affection for the duration of his college recruitment, and to that end, this could be a "wasted" visit. Keep in mind, though, that Lawrence Hill does not approach recruiting like most of his contemporaries. This bright student-athlete has a rare wisdom and perspective that makes him a favorite of fans and Stanford coaches alike.
"It actually made the visit better," Hill declares of the absence of a Stanford head coach. "It was sad to see Coach Montgomery leave for the NBA - you don't want to break up what he had going. But the unique situation on campus allowed them to be more truthful with me. It allowed me to see how they reacted to something unexpected. It showed character more - how they deal with adversity at Stanford. This is something they deal with only once every 19 years. They had to revise the schedule a little, but not too many changes were made. I was supposed to have dinner at Coach Montgomery's house Friday night, but we did that at Dr. [Ted] Leland's house instead, and it was great."
But surely thoughts had to run through Hill's head not too dissimilar from Stanford fans. As they climbed to the top of Hoover Tower Wednesday night, ready to bid farewell to the cruel Monty-less world, how much fear was running through the recruit's head about what Stanford Basketball might fail to be without their leader of the last two decades? As the Deer Valley High School junior began his 48 hours on campus Thursday morning, he had the chance to meet with Montgomery face-to-face to discuss this very concern. The soon-to-depart Cardinal coach was still under contract with Stanford that day and did not sign his Golden State contract until midday Friday.
"He told me straight forward that his leaving won't change things," Hill reports of the meeting with the Stanford coaching legend. "He said that he is not Stanford. The school, the players, the staff and students are what makes the place and program what it is. He's just there to help with the basketball a little bit."
Those thoughts resonated with the combo forward recruit, who strongly voices his belief in what still remains in tact on The Farm.
"The whole situation doesn't really affect how much I like the kids and school," the 6'8" athlete opines. "It was something that had to happen. He's such a great coach - such high stature. But they're not stupid. They're not going to bring in a new guy who is going to change everything."
The next meeting the father and son visiting duo had on Thursday morning was with Ted Leland. The Stanford Athletic Director spoke to the coaching search process that was getting rolling, though Montgomery was still occupying his office all that day.
"Stanford is going to look really hard at places and people who know how Stanford operates," Larry Hill reports of what Leland shared. "Stanford will still be Stanford; it's not going to change. He said they will keep things in-house. The hire should be done in a week to week-and-a-half."
In Part II, we get answers from Lawrence and Larry Hill on the visit specifics, as well as the recruiting outlook after taking in The Farm.
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