In the case of Lawrence Hill, there was no time to think about the Stanford head coaching news that broke Wednesday night as he was preparing to board his flight to San Francisco. But when Bobby Frasor fielded the call that evening from the Cardinal coaches, he and his family had a full 24 hours to stew in the uncertainty. Their collective gut told them to stick with the planned travel, but the shock of the news ate at them that evening and the next day. It set an uneasy tone for the visit, which is not what Stanford fans and coaches needed. I spoke with the 6'3" Chicago point guard Sunday night after he returned from his visit and took in all he had to say about his feelings toward the Cardinal.
"I liked it a lot - liked the coaches and players a lot," Frasor reports on the visit experience. "Stanford is going to get a good coach in there - someone who has coached under Montgomery in the family. They are going to do it quickly."
In the absence of a head coach, the recruit's attention focused more acutely on the Stanford student-athletes. They are the one part of the program he knows will carry over, and as such his best window into the Card's future.
"All the players said that Coach is gone but they are there for each other," the #23 recruit in America offers. "I talked with Dan Grunfeld about it. He said it sucks, but when Coach Montgomery told them the news on Wednesday, he looked around the room at the guys and remembered that's why he is at Stanford."
"I think I left a great impression on the players," he continues. "They all told me I belong. You could see yourself fitting in with those guys. You really could."
Frasor also took in basketball experiences, playing pickup games with players on both Friday and Saturday during his visit. Though much of what we scrutinize in a recruiting decision is focused on playing time, style, geography and coaching relationships, you cannot underestimate how much on-court chemistry counts for these kids. Once again, it was Grunfeld who made a positive impression on his fellow Midwestern resident.
"I got a really great feel for the players and staff at Stanford. It sounds like they are going to be awesome again next year," Frasor comments. "It was a lot of fun playing with the guys. I love playing with Dan. He has such a high basketball IQ, which is what I love playing with."
One concern, beyond the head coaching vacancy, was not something we had read or heard about before. Though it is not uncommon for recruits.
"I went to one class with Chris Hernandez and it was cool. They talked in groups and it was easy-going. It wasn't as intimidating as I thought Stanford would be academically, which is a relief," Frasor admits. "Beyond classes, I really liked the campus. I like all the things that it offers beyond basketball for me."
And then there was the campus. Stanford has been recruiting Frasor hard ever since they watched him play last summer, and a primary thread throughout has been how he simply must visit to see the campus. On top of that, his high school coach has been harping on the marvel of The Farm. Frasor likely had a painting in his mind's eye of heavenly splendor and surroundings.
"My expectations of the campus were high," the Chicago native laughs. "I don't know if it could have lived up to all that hype. But it was great. Me and my parents both really enjoyed it. The baseball game on Saturday was great. They got to meet professors and academic advisors. They really liked it."
The only piece missing in all of this is of course the head basketball hire. That was expected to soon fall into place, which would round out the picture for the Frasors and their evaluation of Stanford. The question, then, is whether this visit would put the #4 point guard in the country in a position to make a commitment in June.
"Yeah, I think so," he reveals. "I've been a lot of places and may have seen enough."
Fade to black. Now fast forward a few days to the hiring of Trent Johnson as the new head coach of Stanford Basketball. I checked in again to get the reaction to this critical development...
Late Wednesday afternoon on The Farm, fans, players and administrators were all digesting the just-concluded press conference that announced Trent Johnson to the world as the new leader for Cardinal Hoops. A reception followed some 90 minutes later, but squeezed inbetween was a critical phone call from Chicago to Palo Alto.
"I liked Coach Johnson and so did my parents," the younger Frasor reports. "We really liked our first impression of him, and we will keep talking with him. There are still some questions we want to ask after this [Memorial Day] weekend. We're probably going to want to talk some more."
The new Stanford head man told the Frasors that he had watched the recruit at the Kingwood Classic in Houston last month and was more than impressed. That is an important thing for the family to know. Recruiting a kid just because that was the status quo - just because the momentum carries you - is not inspiring for a recruit who has a national set of suitors chasing him.
"[Johnson] said he liked my style, which was good to hear," Frasor offers. "It would have been awkward to have him recruiting me if he hadn't seen me play, so that's good."
"He says that he will run a lot of similar plays to what Coach Montgomery ran, but he gives players more freedom in the offense," the talented point guard adds.
While the son is wondering about the basketball, Frasor's parents are also interested in who the new father figure is on campus. When parents send their child away to college, they have to believe their is a caretaker who represents their values and will honestly look after their son. The Frasors had built that trust around Mike Montgomery, so this phone call was the first steps toward feeling that out with Trent Johnson.
"My dad asked if I go to Stanford and have any problems, would I be able to come and talk to him," Brother Rice High School standout describes. "Coach Johnson gave a story about how his daughter is at Arizona State right now. He can perfectly understand the situation my parents are in."
But when you dig deeper into the parental concerns, you find that Frasor's mother is the one holding on most tightly to her son. While that gives Stanford no disadvantage in recruiting against a North Carolina, for example, it does put Marquette into a unique position of strength. With the visit to The Farm in the books and at least an initial conversation with Johnson accomplished, where does Mom stand currently on the prospect of letting her darling boy go to the West Coast for college?
"My mom still prefers me closer to home, but she likes the opportunities that would be available to me after college if I go to Stanford," Frasor reveals. "She jokes around with me sometimes that I won't be able to stand being away from her, but I think she's better now. She won't tell me I shouldn't go away to Stanford."
We have heard this before, though. Mothers may not always overtly cast a spoken lot against a distant school like Stanford, but the mere knowledge by the son that it would be preferable to stay near home can lead to a proximal decision. In this case, would Bobby Frasor opt for a Marquette or DePaul to make his home happier anyway?
"No, I think I'm going to just decide based on my feelings," the top-flight floor general responds.
Stepping back and assessing the recruiting landscape for Frasor at this time, we know that he loved his visits to Stanford and Marquette. He is changed his tune this week and did not definitively say that he would commit in June. Instead he now describes that he will "cut" his list. How far that cut goes, he will not say. He did tell The Bootleg that Stanford will make that cut. Marquette is at that level as well. North Carolina will have the benefit of an unofficial visit on Monday on the heels of his time in the Research Triangle at a tournament this weekend. We have no idea yet as to how his time at Chapel Hill will go down. At this point, the best read is that Marquette is the leading competitor in this battle.
That begs the question: how precisely did the two official visits compare, to Milwaukee versus Palo Alto?
"The visits were really different, so it's hard to compare. Marquette was more showy and flashy. They really showed me I was their number one guy. That's just a style difference," Frasor articulates. "I asked some of the Stanford players what their visits were like, and they said they were not flashy either. That's just what Stanford does, so you just have to understand that they're different."
Final question. Just what are Stanford's chances right now, given the visit he took to The Farm and his early impressions of new head coach Trent Johnson?
"Their chances are real good," he allows.
Recruitniks will have their eyes focused yet again on Bobby Frasor this weekend in Carolina when he plays with his Illinois Wolves at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions. It so happens that the Wolves open play in their pool tonight at 8 PM against the Arizona Magic. The Magic of course feature Lawrence Hill, who overlapped with Frasor for a day during their Stanford official visits. Hill and his father reported this week to The Bootleg that they are leaning heavily toward the Cardinal, so one can only wonder what words will be exchanged between the two tonight and this weekend.
Also note that Frasor should be scoring less this weekend than what you read about during his famed Kingwood performances in late April. Wolves point guard Bryan Mullins is out with a bruised rib, which will move Frasor over to the point guard slot.
"I don't know if I will score as much, but as long as we win, I don't worry about that," the Windy City star opines.
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