Open Fields in the New Year

On this final day of 2005, we put behind us a number of the stories in and around Stanford sports from the last year. One recruiting saga that presses on into the New Year is that of Los Alamitos (Calif.) senior wing Landry Fields. The 6'5" swing man is having a strong start to his final high school season, attracting more schools and options. At the same time, he continues to work toward Stanford.

It was not an easy decision for Landry Fields to wait through the early signing period. In optin to sign in the spring after his senior season of basketball, the 6'5" wing from Los Alamitos (Calif.) High School gambled that he could play his way into more and better options for his college future. Fields could have grabbed an attractive scholarship on the table from New Mexico, where he took an official visit back in the beginning of September. The Lobos are no longer an option, moving on and signing a junior college player in November.

Many observers expected Fields to have a strong senior season, after he came on strong during the AAU travel season this past summer. Young for his grade and visibly physically immature, the SoCal swing man is just starting to add the physical tools to go with his excellent feel for the game. He is a springy athlete who can run and jump, though his physical strength lacks many of his peers. Nevertheless, Fields is making his mark this winter as one of the top seniors in the L.A. area.

"We've just been playing really well," he says of the 8-3 start for Los Alamitos. "I'm just scoring and making plays. Last year I was a shooter, and now I'm a scorer. It's different. I have more drives and pull-up jumpers from mid-range. People are crowding me on the three-point line, so I take it past them."

Averaging 22 points per game to start the season, Fields is the go-to guy for his team. Some pressure has been alleviated by the transfer addition of 6'10" junior center Clint Amberry from Ocean View High School, but opponents are gearing their gameplans around stopping Fields.

"Every time I touch the ball, the whole team is focused on me," the senior says. "That opens up a lot of other people, and I try to find them."

He has a sweet jumper, from both mid-range and beyond the arc. He is smooth, has a good handle and can pass. With each passing month of experience and physical improvement, it has become increasingly clear that Landry Fields has a bright future ahead of him on the court. While the Lobos left him behind, a series of new suitors are knocking on his door. Arizona, Washington State and Northwestern have all come to watch him play already this season. Lute Olson is impressed enough to extend an invitation for an official visit to Tucson (Ariz.) the weekend of January 21.

"Arizona has really come into the picture," Fields reports. "They are looking at what they think of their team this year, and they want to bring somebody in who can shoot the ball. Lute Olson has come out two times. They want me to go on a visit, and then we will go from there."

Baylor is also talking to the Los Alamitos athlete and expects to come watch him play soon. Notre Dame talks with Field's high school coach "all the time," as well.

Two schools who were already aboard the Landry Fields train several months ago are still in pursuit today. Gonzaga has told the Orange County standout that they want to bring him on an official visit after he finishes this season, while Stanford remains as eager as ever. Fields has taken only one other official visit, and that brought him to The Farm in October. The Cardinal and the recruit have been standing at the altar ever since, but the issue of navigating Stanford's admissions process remains a stumbling block.

Fields buckled down with an SAT prep course at the end of the summer and then retook the standardized test in October, but he did not achieve the results for which he or the Cardinal had hoped.

"My math score went up, but my verbal did not," he discloses. "So I took another class, this one focused just on the verbal part. I think the class did really help."

Earlier this month, Fields took the SAT for a third time. He says he does not yet have the score back, but he and the Cardinal coaches remain ever hopeful.

"They want me, but they're also looking out for me," the recruit relates. "They told me just make sure that I'm looking at my other options. I told them that I wanted to take the test again. They were pretty happy with that."

This is why the Landry Fields story remains one of the more gripping and emotionally invested recruiting tales for Stanford fans this year. He decided months ago that Stanford was where he wanted to be, and he has worked hard to reach that goal ever since. It will be a great disappointment for many in the Cardinal community if those efforts do not ultimately pay off, but as observers on the sideline, we can take solace in the fact that a good kid has other opportunities opening for him. His story started some time ago in 2005 but will be one to follow into early 2006, and we will keep tracking it for you here. Stay tuned.


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