Omar Wilkes update

The guard who has garnered the most visible recruiting attention for Stanford's 2003 class has been 6-2 Omar Wilkes in Los Angeles (Loyola). He made a name for himself nationally as a sophomore and has a national cadre of suitors. I caught up with him in Vegas to get the latest on his recruitment, as well as some self-evaluation of his game. Read on for the latest, plus a look at his freshman brother Jordan.

Omar Wilkes in an elite combo guard (6'2") with excellent bloodlines and demonstrated playmaking abilities on the floor.  He won't grow anywhere near the height of his father, the UCLA and NBA great 6'7" Jamaal Wilkes, and will enter college with a frame and game I'd compare with Joseph Forte.  He is slight of build, but does a lot of things very well on the floor and is a very smooth player.  He has a good jumper, but a handle that allows him to drive and slash to the basket as well.  He is truly a thinking man on the floor and demonstrates a very high basketball IQ with or without the ball.  He is playing again this off-season with the Pump 'N Run squad that includes another famed Stanford recruit in big man Dave Padgett.  Omar splits time at the point and at the shooting guard, and he looks very comfortable at either spot.  In my assessment, I'd rather see him at the "2" in college, where I think his ballhandling and defense might be best suited.  Move him to the off-guard, and you have two floor leaders and thinkers similar to what Duke has been blessed with these past two years - with Chris Duhon playing alongside Jason Williams.  Similarly, Omar could easily play the point when needed in a spot.

I should also say this about Omar: he is a super, great kid.  He's genuinely nice and a well-spoken kid.  He would be an excellent "culture match" at Stanford, if you know what I mean.  And I'm talking about the University, beyond just the basketball family.  Whatever university he chooses will be very lucky to have him, and will benefit for years to come - on and off the court.

The Bootleg: Omar, can you talk about how you think you've played this tournament?
Omar Wilkes: Considering the circumstances - that we're new to each other and don't have that cohesiveness yet - I think possibly as well as I could.  I guess I'm pleased with my performance overall.

The Bootleg: I've seen two different lineups: one with you and Mikel (Watson) on the court, where he plays the point guard, and then when he leaves you move over to the point.  What do you see differently on the floor when you take those two roles?
Omar Wilkes: When I'm the point guard, I don't get as many looks.  But I think I have a pretty good court vision, so I get a lot more assists.  I have the ball in my hands more often, which I like.  It lets me control the game more.

The Bootleg: When you play at the off-guard, and you're looking more to score, what are your developed skills that you think you are able to best show to coaches out here?
Omar Wilkes: I think I have a very consistent jump shot, and I think I do a great job creating for my teammates.  Get them open shots or penetrate and then dish the ball.

The Bootleg: What are the parts of your game that you know need the most improvement right now?
Omar Wilkes: Strength! (laughs)  I need some muscles.

The Bootleg: I know you wanted to work on your strength and frame last year as well, so what have you been doing toward that goal?
Omar Wilkes: I've been weightlifting like crazy. Taking all those weight-gainers, like milkshakes and supplements and stuff like that.  I should be cool by the summer or end of summer.  I should be able to add another 10 or 15 pounds.

The Bootleg: What are some of your spring and summer plans?
Omar Wilkes: I think for the spring there is just one more tournament - North Carolina for the Bob Gibbons.  For the summer: ABCD, Vegas and the NBPA camp for me.

The Bootleg: Last year you were just getting into recruiting, but now it's hot and heavy for you.  At this point, who are the teams and coaches from which you've noticed the most serious recruiting attention?
Omar Wilkes: Kansas, Arizona, UCLA, SC, Cal, Maryland, Florida and other West Coast schools.

The Bootleg: Well, I have to ask you where does Stanford fit in?
Omar Wilkes: Stanford is in my top seven.  They are all equal right now.  It's too early for me to think about where I want to go.  I'm going to take another trip to Stanford.  I think it's a great academic school, and it's really high on both my list and my parents' list.

The Bootleg: Do you have an idea yet about your timeline for your visits or your decision?
Omar Wilkes: I think I'm going to sign before the basketball season, but if there is no frontrunner, like now, then I'll probably wait until after the season.  Most likely I'd prefer to have it done before my senior season starts.

The Bootleg: Can you tell me what your top criteria are that you are using as you try to decide between programs?
Omar Wilkes: One - coach, definitely.  A close second would be academics.  Then the area and facilities, though I guess all the schools I'm looking at have great facilities.  But academics is really high.  That ball is going to deflate one day, and you need that degree to fall back on.  That degree is going to help you a lot in the real world.

The Bootleg: You mentioned some schools spread away from the West Coast, so how does location matter to you?
Omar Wilkes: I'm not really a cold weather guy. (smiles)  That would be kind of tough.  That would probably hurt a school's chances a lot.  But if they're a great school, I'm not going to let that stop me from going there.  Still, I'd like to play in a warm area.

The Bootleg: Obviously in the LA area, you get to see and hear a lot about USC and UCLA.  What are your thoughts on those two programs?
Omar Wilkes: Overall, they are two great programs with two good coaches - two solid coaches.  I think Lavin is a great coach, but he's in a lose-lose situation.  He's a great guy and great recruiter, who is improving as a coach.  Bibby - I think he gets a reputation of being a hard coach, but he's also a great coach.  They're great programs and definitely in my top seven or top eight list.

The Bootleg: A lot has been made about your relationship with Dave Padgett - how close you are and the chance that you might go somewhere together.  What's your comment on that?  How seriously are you guys comparing lists and trying to go somewhere together.?
Omar Wilkes: It's a very realistic possibility.  I'm not going to go to the same school if it's not the best situation for me.  But if it's all right, then I think we could be at the same school.

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