In Part I of "The Law Review" we heard what Arizona forward target Lawrence Hill had to say about the surprise of the Stanford head coaching change and subsequent vacuum during his visit. Now for the outlook he and his father have on the Cardinal given their visit experiences...
The landmark most often associated with the physical plant of Stanford University's campus is Hoover Tower. More than a symbol, the 285-foot structure was an emblematic experience for the campus that opened Lawrence Hill's eyes during his 48 official visit last week.
"I really liked Hoover tower. You can look out the windows and see basically everything," the recruit excitedly recalls. "The tour of campus was a lot longer than I expected. The campus is so big with so few students. I liked the entire area - where Stanford is placed. My favorite thing campus-wise was how everything was split up: athletics in one place, classes together, and then how the dorms are set up. All in sections. It makes sense and it's really neat how it all fits together. Though I spent most of my time in the Arrillaga Center - meeting with personnel and watching workouts."
"I got to tour Maples [Pavilion] and there were a lot of guys working on it vigorously," Hill reports on his hard-hart look inside the $30M renovation of the home of Stanford Basketball. "They showeed me how the locker rooms will look and what the weight room will be able to do. Even the construction workers were friendly."
The Glendale (Ariz.) forward was hosted by fellow Grand Canyon State big man Matt Haryasz, who have a relationship going back to when a freshman Hill played a then-senior Haryasz in a high school tournament. But Hill says that the hosting duties were shared by other players as well. On his first night, he spent all of his time with Haryasz and his sophomore classmate cronies, Dan Grunfeld and Jason Haas. Friday evening the recruit hung out with third-year players Chris Hernandez and Rob Little, though by the end of the night, he says he found himself back with the infamous sophomore trio.
"I couldn't tell the difference between the freshmen, the sophomores and the juniors," Hill maintains of his time spent with the Stanford players. "They all hung out the same. You can tell who is older - guys like Nick Robinson, who have a little more maturity. But nobody treats anybody different by class or age. The guys were all just really cool."
As you could expect, father Larry Hill was more tuned in to the administrators, coaches and faculty that he met. And just as his son raves about the kids, Larry enjoyed watching him interact with the adults surrounding the student-athletes.
"We really enjoyed ourselves up there," the elder Hill says of the visit. "Lawrence had a blast talking with Professor [Robert] McGinn, Vaughn Bryant and Debra Gore-Mann. They were all really nice people - east to talk to. They each made it easy for us to get comfortable. A lot of people knew of him, which was neat, too."
Of course, no amount of selling and no bounty from a visit can pay dividends to the Stanford staff if the recruit cannot successfully gain admission to the University. For that reason, the Cardinal seldom bring in a target for a visit in the absence of an acceptance, unless extenuating circumstances force their hand. The recruit may minimize their emotional attachment to the school if they are unsure that it is within their reach, and from a practical standpoint, hosting an official visit is a great drain on financial resources, personnel and time. You don't like to put on the full-blown dog and pony show for a kid who you cannot ultimately continue to recruit, should he later be denied.
In the case of Hill, his perfect 4.0 GPA and his 1230 SAT may have eased the minds of the Cardinal crew, as he sent in his admissions application via FedEx last Tuesday. That meant it arrived on campus just hours before he did. The Hills certainly did not expect any kind of answer during their visit. But in a week full of surprises, one more was in store for the achieving student-athlete late on Friday. The Deer Valley High School junior says he received the word of his acceptance around 5 PM.
"It never really bothered me thinking about it before," he says of the admissions issue. "The news didn't hit me as hard as many other people. If I didn't get in, I would just try it again. I'm not old enough I guess to appreciate it. I expected it. The coaches always assured me it would happen.
With most dimensions satisfied for both father and son, there still remained the pink elephant standing in the middle of the room. How to recruit a kid without a head coach? - that was still a question that needed some answers. Mike Montgomery played his own small part, and the tag-team of Ted Leland plus the assistants provided a surrogate head coach of sorts. The results were alarmingly positive.
"Lawrence asked me when we got home if I was 100% on Stanford," Larry Hill relays. "I told him no, I was 98%. But I'm not 100% on anything." I need to find out who the head coach is and build a rapport. Really, I hadn't talke with Montgomery very much. It had almost all been with the other three coaches. I'd like to get know the new head coach, but on everything else at Stanford, I'm sold."
"It was really hard to not break out and say, 'I want to come here!'," the younger Hill admits about his trip. "The only thing that keeps it from being 100% is the head coach and what other [schools] want to do. I've always had Stanford at the top of my list, and now they are even higher. We'll see how other schools respond to how well this visit went. I also think it is a good thing to let it set in, plus I have to wait after my finals and the [Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions]. I'll talk with my dad next week after the Gibbons. By then we will probably know who the head coach is."
The statements from both the Hills leave little doubt about what decision they could be making next week, barring a bad initial chemistry between them and new Cardinal head coach Trent Johnson. Thus, we should be able to wrap this story up and check back next week for the next and final chapter in this recruiting saga. But then Lawrence Hill adds some additional commentary on the one scheduled official visitor who cancelled his trip and stayed home this famed weekend.
"I've got to call Anthony Goods - I'm mad at him," the Arizona recruit declares on the subject of his SoCal buddy's visit cancellation. "There was no need for that. We both talk about going to Stanford, and I'd rather he just make the trip."
The rationale that came from the Goods camp last week was that they did not want to expend their one official visit to Stanford without getting the chance to interact with the head coach. Hill disagrees with that premise.
"What else is missing?" he rhetorically asks. "All that you don't get is talking with the head coach, but I don't need to see him to talk to him. It's not my decision, but me and him both understand what we want out of a school. I got more value out of going to classes in this visit than I would have gotten from seeing the head coach. Giong to class is a way bigger deal - you do that every day of the week all year. That's more often than games."
"Besides, when I go to a school, I will have to get used to new basketball experiences because I'm joining a new team," Hill wraps up. "Whether my new coach is Coach Montgomery or someone else, I have to make a transition."
Once again, Lawrence Hill proves wise beyond his years. His arguments and observations could scarcely be improved by a Stanford assistant coach. This is a significant part of the appeal of Hill to both fans and coaches. His clarity of mind and purpose bespeak a great future. The good news for Cardinalmaniacs™ is that his words point toward Palo Alto, and such a commitment would be a tremendous start to the Trent Johnson Era and the momentum of this 2005 Stanford recruiting class.
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