Since we last updated you on the recruitment of 7'1" New Jersey center Brian Zoubek, the 270-pound post prize has taken a pair of momentous official visits to two of his three final schools. Two weekends ago he spent a Thursday through Saturday in Durham (N.C.) at the Duke campus, while last weekend he spent Friday through Sunday out West at Stanford. The elite student-athlete is caught in a bicoastal battle that appears to be as muddied today as it was prior to the official trips.
His visit to Duke was smartly scheduled by the Blue Devil coaches to overlap with the team's post-season banquet on April 21. As expected, it was a powerful experience which left an impact on the Haddonfield Memorial High School junior.
"The banquet was amazing," Zoubek beams. "It showed what Duke Basketball is all about. It was an amazing experience. The seniors got up and gave speeches, and I felt the emotion with which the players talked. Overall, they treated me well on my visit."
"They left a great impression on me," he comments on his hosts. "Overall, I wanted to find out if I could see myself there [at Duke]. I definitely could."
We heard rumblings following the 48 hours in Durham that Zoubek was a solid lean toward the Blue Devils, with the Duke coaching staff confident in their chances. Is the New Jersey standout willing to confirm those reports?
"I think every program would be in a stronger position for a recruit after having the first official visit," Zoubek responds. "Duke was ahead, but then I went to Stanford, and now they have pulled back even again."
The Cardinal had no banquet to showcase during their weekend hosting the elite center recruit, but the series of low-key events gave the visitor ample opportunities to interact with and get to know the Stanford players.
"I had a lot of time at Stanford with all the guys," Zoubek reports. "The banquet at Duke was a different experience, but at Stanford I got along with everybody so well."
"All the players helped out a lot," Zoubek describes. "Taj and Peter are both from the East Coast, so they knew where I was coming from. They said everybody at Stanford comes from someplace different, but they all get along well together."
"I think the big thing was being comfortable with everybody - being able to see myself there," he adds.
Zoubek told us for our last update story that he was eyeing some of the non-basketball aspects of the schools - the social and academic fit he wants for his college experience. But that is not to say that he has taken basketball out of the equation. Indeed, he cognizant of the differences between the Cardinal and Blue Devil programs - well beyond geography.
"At Stanford, they are starting something new. I could make my own impact. While at Duke, they have been set for a while. Whether that is a plus or a minus - it's hard for me to tell," he ponders. "I'm just confident that I can be successful in both programs.
We cannot forget, however, the third suitor who Zoubek says is still in the hunt. We previously understood that Wake Forest was setting up an official visit with the New Jersey big man when head coach Skip Prosser came into the school in late April, but Zoubek says that he has not yet scheduled that trip to Winston-Salem.
"I'm not sure at this time," the recruit says of a Wake Forest visit. "It's possible that I could decide without taking any more trips, but I would still like to keep my options open, especially because Wake Forest is such a good school."
Our best information at this time still says that this is primarily a Stanford-Duke battle. There has been some additional speculation that, with the two visits to those putative favorites now concluded, Zoubek could be on the cusp of a college commitment. He still says that he hopes and plans to have his decision before the end of his junior classes (June 20), but he appears to be weeks and not days from his answer.
"Basically, these visits just gave me a lot more to think about now," Zoubek admits. "I'm taking a break from thinking about recruiting too much. At this point, I wouldn't see a decision in the next week. It is an important decision, and I need time to make the right decision."
At this moment, can he at least handicap for us where either the Blue Devils or the Cardinal might have a small edge over the other?
"I honestly couldn't tell you," Zoubek maintains. "I'm a little confused right now. But I look at the big picture and know that I can't go wrong with these schools."
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