The drama and anticipation had been driving some Stanford fans crazy the last few weeks, but the 2005 recruiting class finally hit the ground running Sunday night... with not just one, but a pair of commitments.
At approximately 8:30 PM Pacific time on this evening, Lawrence Hill and Anthony Goods gave their verbal commitments to Cardinal head coach Trent Johnson on a three-way phone call. As an amusement during their impatient waiting for the first commit in this rising senior class, fans have been often asking the question of each other: Who will be Stanford's first commitment in the Trent Johnson Era? The answer to that trivia question, which you should tuck away in your back pocket for cocktail parties, is that the Arizona forward and SoCal guard both committed at the same time - in a tie.
Just as humorous as this double dip kick-start to Stanford's summer recruiting, there is an unusual story to how things played out with this famed phone call. Goods called up the Hills around 8 PM to say that he was ready to make his Cardinal commitment. The recruits attempted to make the conference call to Johnson, but there was no answer at his cell phone. They next turned to Stanford assistant coach Tony Fuller, who gave them fellow assistant Eric Reveno's cell phone number. Hill and Goods found Reveno at the Stanford Basketball office (which itself is eyebrow-raising at that hour on a Sunday evening). Reveno told them that Johnson was not answering his cell phone because the head coach was out jogging on campus. The climax of this comedy came when the 6'10" assistant took his cell and ran out of the offices to track down Johnson in the middle of his run.
"He was mostly out of breath when we finally talked to him and committed," Goods describes of the conversation with Johnson. "He didn't have a lot of words he could get out, but he was excited."
The bond between these two recruits goes back to the early part of last fall when they played together on the Compton Magic AAU squad in an event in Iowa. They both marveled at each other's athletic abilities, but they also recognized intellect, personality and values that they rarely found in their athletic peer groups.
"We thought back in Iowa that if we could play on the same team in college, it would be pretty cool," Goods recalls. "My recruitment took off and so did his, but we were both thinking about Stanford. We always talked about that. Then when we talked this week, Lawrence told me he had already made up his mind and was just waiting for me."
There is the answer to a burning question for Cardinalmaniacs™ of the last several weeks. With both Lawrence and (father) Larry Hill delivering definitive statements of affection and unwavering love toward Stanford, it was puzzling to see the 6'8" Glendale (Ariz.) athlete stall on a commitment. Why not just go ahead and pull the trigger, when you are telling everybody who will listen that you are "99%" for Stanford or "all but committed"?
"I know how important it is to get other recruits," says the First Team All-Arizona standout of his apparent delay. "I thought maybe I could entice Anthony to commit with me to Stanford. I knew that would be good for the program, and I really wanted to play with Anthony, too."
Hill placed a call at the end of the week to Goods to feel him out on where the Corona (Calif.) guard stood on recruiting after taking his Stanford official visit. That call started the ball rolling toward the final joint commitment.
"The first thing I told him on the phone was that I was ready to commit now. Just let me know when you are ready. When you do, I will commit with you, too. He said he didn't know when, but he said it would probably be soon. He called me tonight to ask if I was ready to do it, and then we called up Stanford," Hill reports.
The follow-up question, then, is how long has Hill known that he would commit to Stanford?
"Since the day I found out they were recruiting me," the Desert diamond replies. "I was theirs to lose. They only thing that could have ever derailed me would have been if they did something to turn me off or if I could not get admitted... I was 100% for Stanford going into my [official] visit. The last three or four months, I have never really thought about any another school."
With all his interactions with the Cardinal coaching staff so glowingly positive throughout his recruitment, as has been widely and publicly reported, the only significant event that remained his Hill's admissions acceptance. That good word came late on the Friday afternoon of his official visit, but he held off committing at dinner that night or breakfast the next morning.
"I didn't want him to commit when he found out he was admitted," says Larry Hill. "I didn't want to do that without my wife."
So the Hill men returned to Glendale to conference as a family, but there were additional motive forces for delaying a Cardinal commitment. The Arizona forward wanted to bring Goods with him, but Hill had internal reasons for waiting a finite period of time.
"I know it's hard on the staff and players waiting for the commitment, but it was good for me to wait and still know that I felt as strongly about Stanford as when I had just returned home," the Deer Valley High School student-athlete explains.
"I wanted him to come away from the glow of the trip and see how he felt in a separate environment. It stuck," Larry Hill adds. "My main concern though was the coaching staff. The fact that all the assistants stayed and ensured continuity was a big deal."
Still, the recruit's father wanted to have a series of conversations with new head coach Trent Johnson before he and his son could consummate the Stanford commitment. Larry Hill made calls each of the last three weeks to Stanford toward that end. Satisfied with the results, the elder Hill gave his blessing for his son to commit.
"I've always been partial to the school," the father comments. "My youngest sister went there - graduated in '85 with a degree in economics. She has been pushing Stanford to Lawrence ever since he was in elementary school. And of course the basketball at Stanford has been getting more and more impressive. They play so well as a team. Their style of ball blends all their talents. Josh Childress was one of the few players in college basketball this year who could truly create his own offense, but he blended with the other players on the team and got them involved. He helped guys get open - set picks and went back door."
"Lawrence is such a good fit at Stanford, especially with the coaching staff," Larry Hill continues. "I couldn't really see him anywhere else. Stanford was the one who saw him early and identified him and his style of play. They did their homework and looked at him as a student and as an athlete. They were always on him, while others were here and there."
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