One of the stories with the biggest sizzle that ultimately fizzled in the spring was the pair of Pac-10 official visits that Spencer Hawes declared he would take: Stanford and UCLA. Neither transpired, and instead a lengthy school list for the Seattle (Wash.) center persisted.
"At the end of the school year, things were just so busy that I ran out of time," Hawes explains of his severed spring plans. "I'm looking to the future to take my visits now - in the September period."
Prospective student-athletes cannot take official visits during the summer and must wait for classes to resume in the autumn. So the summertime has been something of a purgatory for the avid followers of the 6'11" post prize. Hawes has dominated on the court with a deft array of skills and athleticism - no longer to anybody's surprise. The same cast of characters can be seen at any and every game he plays within an evaluation period.
But this week marks the biggest movement in Hawes' recruitment we have seen to date. His school list of eight favorites has been trimmed to five. That is correct - the winnowing is complete. Though several reports have said that Scout.com's #6 player in the nation will trim his list in the "next couple weeks" or "sometime next week," Hawes tells The Bootleg that the deed is done.
"I have made the decision, but I am in the process of making some calls that take a couple days," he explains.
The Seattle Prep senior is making phone calls currently to the three head coaches who will not continue with him toward his college decision. Dave Telep has already broken the news that Kansas is one of the fallen trio. We are hearing the same thing that in the last couple weeks has been widely repeated - that Stanford, Washington and North Carolina are the three at the front of the pack for Hawes. The #2 center in the nation will not comment or confirm any speculation about which five have survived this cut until he finishes his phone calls. He does say that by the time he tips off in Las Vegas tomorrow with his AAU team, Friends of Hoop Seattle, he will be ready to disclose the information.
One school not believed to be in Hawes' top three, but who he says will get his first official visit in September, is UCLA.
"It's the location, the tradition of the program and how Coach Howland is bringing them back," he says of the Bruins. "The players they are bringing in and the style they play - all of those things."
Through the latter part of the winter and the entirety of the spring, Hawes said Stanford would join UCLA in receiving his first official visits. No date was ever set to bring Hawes to The Farm, while he did schedule a weekend for Westwood, only to cancel upon injuring his ankle. The question one might ask is how we should read the tea leaves, given his early insistence upon a Stanford visit which has since cooled to a more noncommittal stance.
"I'm waiting until a little later in the process before I make those kinds of decision," he answer to the question of a Stanford official visit. "I just have to sit down and map out how much time I have to visit which schools. It's a little early to say right now. I'll set up my visits in August."
When he finishes this month of busy basketball and travel, Hawes will again have tough choices to make. While he is permitted to take five official visits, and he has five schools left on his list, he does not foresee trips to them all. Somebody will come up on the short end of the stick.
"I'll probably take three or four," he opines. "Five would be a lot to do in that time."
"I'm looking for the balance of basketball and academics," Hawes shares of his thought process. "I want a program that prepares and develops me as a basketball player - a place that can prepare me for the NBA. I also would like to be part of a program that is in the hunt and is capable of winning a national championship. Academically, I want a school that helps prepare me for life after basketball."
That resonates closely with the pitch made by the Cardinal coaching staff to their prospects, and Hawes is able to well articulate the case for Stanford.
"Academics are something you can never take away," he comments. "That is the strong suit of their program - they prepare players for both professional basketball and the life after basketball is done."
The match between Stanford's profile and Hawes' desires has not been questioned. The hotter topic of discussion surrounding the Cardinal's recruitment of the Seattle center has touched upon the ramifications of 6'11" Fresno twins Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez in the same program, in the same class. Is that too crowded for Hawes' liking?
"It's something you have to consider," he answers. "You are not guaranteed a spot in that situation. But that's not the way I look at it. I think they could bring out the best in me, playing against them every day in practice and with them on the court."
"I've talked with Coach Johnson, and I don't see why I cannot play alongside them," Hawes adds. "I know they're both good players, and we could be a very good team."
"The Lopez twins at first were one of the big issues I talked with Coach Johnson about, but that's better now and I see it as a positive. We talk about how I would fit in the team and how I would be used in the offense," he continues. "We've talked about moving me from center to the wing a little more, with those guys manning the middle. A little high-low game. But we haven't talked too many specifics."
There is one more man on the Stanford campus who talks with Spencer Hawes even more regularly than Trent Johnson. The 2006 center played previously on his AAU team with 2005 point guard Mitch Johnson, who is already on The Farm and this summer has begun his Cardinal education. In the younger Johnson, Hawes has an "inside" man and trusted resource.
"I talk to Mitch usually once a day, if not more often," the big man admits. "He just gives me the truth - how it really is. As much I trust and have strong relationships with the college coaches who have recruited me, it's their job to try and sway you to their school. Mitch doesn't have that angle and tells it like it is - the unedited version."
Look for news in the next 24 hours to confirm whether the reports from Johnson & Johnson have met Hawes' satisfaction to keep Stanford on his list. Hawes is one of the most hotly reported stories in this 2006 class, so you can bet that not more than few minutes will elapse between when he releases that word and when you will see it on The Bootleg and Scout.com.
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