Wild Week Ahead for Fields

The Pac-10's best rivalry is renewed this week when the Card and Cats collide in Tucson. Stanford and Arizona have battled throughout the last decade for conference crowns on the hardwood, while also bumping into each other on the recruiting trail. All eyes will be on the McKale Center come Thursday, but the more dramatic battleground this week is found 500 miles away in Orange County...

The saga continues.  Only now, it has some unexpected twists.

Through the summer and fall, the recruiting battleground for Landry Fields was one where the Cardinal matched up primarily against Gonzaga and New Mexico.  The Zags pulled back on their official visit for the Los Alamitos (Calif.) High School senior while they wait through the season on their scholarship situation.  Fields could have been compelled to sign with the Lobos but instead opted to roll the dice with the spring signing period.  The 6'5" wing emerged onto the recruiting scene late, corresponding with his young age and delayed physical development.  Playing his senior season for college coaches could pay off, while he also worked to improve his transcript and test score for admission to Stanford.

Fields' gamble is paying off wonderfully, as he averages 22 points per game for Los Alamitos, showcasing his vastly improved scoring arsenal beyond his junior year identity as a catch-and-shoot perimeter player.  In only one game this year has Fields failed to score at least 15 points.  His high performance thus far in his senior campaign has been a 34-point explosion in a 57-51 win over Long Beach (Calif.) Milliken.

The most notable suitor who has sidled up alongside the slender wing is Arizona.  The Wildcats and Lute Olson have now become a major player in Fields' recruitment, building toward an official visit this weekend.  The SoCal standout has a game Friday night and will then fly Saturday morning to Tucson for his third official visit.  Fields previously has taken official trips to New Mexico (Sep. 9) and Stanford (Oct. 21).

It has been reported elsewhere, erroneously, that Arizona has made an offer to the Orange County recruit, though strong language and an intensified pursuit point in that direction.

"No, Arizona hasn't really made an offer yet," Fields says.  "But they are talking like they are going to.  They tell me how they can't wait for me to be part of the program, and things like that.  But they haven't come right out and said that I have an offer."

If Olson, who long ago earned the nickname "Midnight Lute" for sweeping in late and swooping up recruits, were to extend that scholarship to Fields during his official visit this coming weekend, that could spell doom for Stanford and the other schools still in pursuit of the Los Alamitos athlete.  That begs the question: could he commit during his trip to Tucson if Olson offers?

"Most likely I would need to come home and talk about things with my parents before I decided anything," Fields answers.  "My dad is not going with me on the visit; my mom is coming.  My dad would want the chance to talk together before I make a big decision like this."

Stanford signed a trio of post players in November but have been patient in their pursuit of Fields as their top wing target since the summer.  The hold-up, as been well documented, is the application admissions process on The Farm.  Fields did not deliver up to par with his spring semester grades to close out his junior year, while also turning out a disappointing test score on the SAT.  With much work to do in the classroom and in studying for the SAT, Stanford told Fields that his chances for admission could only come in the winter and necessitate a spring signing.  He has held the Cardinal atop his favorites list throughout and held off signing during the early National Letter of Intent period.

Unfortunately, Fields first fall retake of the SAT netted him only a significant improvement on the math section of the standardized test, while barely moving his verbal score - the key for the Cardinal.  Undeterred, Fields worked with a tutor explicitly on honing his verbal skills and sat down for a third time for the SAT in early December.  Our check with the Los Alamitos student-athlete in late December reported that he did not yet have that newest score.

We now learn that the letter sent from the ETS to the Fields' mailbox reported something other than his retake score.

"I still don't have the score," he explains.  "A few weeks ago I got a letter from them saying that they needed to double-check my SAT score.  If I didn't have my score within two weeks, I should check back with them.  Well, it's that time now and I still don't have my score."

Fields told The Bootleg last night that his mother intended to call the ETS today for answers and hopefully her son's score.  The clock is ticking in the Stanford Admissions Office, where a flurry of activity is now pushing through thousands of applications for the entering Class of 2006.

"The Stanford coaches told me that they are talking to Admissions," Fields reports.  "They want to get me an answer if at all possible before I leave for my trip to Arizona."

After many months of recruiting, events are lining up that could finally provide a number of answers on Landry Fields within the next week.  It is a big story for Cardinal recruiting, and one where we will keep a close eye in the coming days.  Stay tuned.

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