It was a whirlwind September for Michelle Harrison. The 6'3" guard/forward from Orem, Utah took official visits to three of her four finalists. First it was Texas Tech, then Kansas State and Cal. The last putative visit remained up in the air until a fateful phone call with Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer.
"I was in class and I got a text from Tara saying that she had 'excellent news.' I did not know what that could be. I had just talked to her the night before, and she had said I probably wouldn't know about admissions until October 10. I was bummed when I heard that," Harrison explains. "So my heart started racing. Is this finally it? I had to wait until lunch, and then I raced outside where I could get good signal and called her. She said, 'You're in. You're accepted. We are so excited that we couldn't wait to tell you.'"
Harrison made another phone call as soon as she hung up - to her mother. An excited Judi Harrison shared in the excitement, and then dialed a dizzying tree of friends and family.
"I am so, so happy," the recruit exclaims. "A lot of hard work went into the application, and then there was the waiting. Now I know that I have the option to go to Stanford."
But first things first, Harrison has an official visit she can finally take to The Farm. While it was previously reported by another recruiting service that the three-time First Team All-State athlete would take her fourth and final trip to Stanford this weekend, that is not the case.
"Stanford gave me the choice of weekends, and I decided for the 14th," she says to set the record straight. "It has been a really busy time for me. These visits have been bang-bang-bang. It will be nice to have a normal week to cool off and catch my breath. Then I will be rested up for my visit. These visits can be tiring. There are lots of things to do that make it physically exhausting. And all the questions and thinking make it mentally and emotionally exhausting, too."
In addition to the official trips she has taken, Harrison has entertained the head coaches of all four programs visiting her home. Cal came in two weeks ago, while Kansas State and Texas Tech hit Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. Yesterday the Mountain View High School senior was greeted by the Cardinal's one-two punch of Tara VanDerveer and Amy Tucker.
"It's another chance to talk with these coaches and have them meet my family," Harrison says. "All the coaches have been awesome. It makes everything more difficult, when I'm emotionally attached to them - like really close friends."
"It's all a lot to think about," she adds. "We're coming down to the end of it, where I want to make a decision."
While that decision ostensibly would not come until after Harrison's October 14 visit to The Farm, some little-known history could allow for something sooner. The Beehive State standout took an unofficial visit during her spring break with her mother. Given enough time, as well as the right amount of planning on the part of the host coaching staff, an unofficial visit can provide nearly all of the same experiences as an official visit. The prospective student-athlete has to foot the bill for airfare, hotel and meals, but the time spent and the information uncovered can have an impact. In this case, it might have given Harrison enough to make a decision before the 14th, with trips to all four of her finalists now under her belt.
"It's possible. I could have all the information I need to know where I want to go. It absolutely could happen," she admits. "But at the same time, I've come this far, and I might want that fourth official visit to make sure of my decision."
Harrison is not naming any favorite, even at this 11th hour of her recruitment, but her recent admission to Stanford does have her excited about the Cardinal.
"Not just for recruiting, but in life, getting accepted to Stanford is huge. Getting a degree from there is a huge plus. And with the basketball, you're really getting the best of both worlds. Stanford has a lot of positives going for them," she shares. "Everything I saw on my unofficial was awesome. I had a blast. I can't imagine what the official visit would be like."
Michelle Harrison is a four-star forward/guard prospect ranked by Scout.com as the #31 overall recruit in the 2006 class and the #11 forward.
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