The saga continues, and that is news by itself.
When we last reported to you on Landry Fields early last week, he had quite a few balls in the air. His longstanding Stanford recruitment was about to come to a head with his impending admissions decision, though at the same time he was trying to pry free from the ETS his latest SAT score. Fields most recently took the standardized test in early December but was left waiting indefinitely for his score while the ETS notified him that it was being reviewed. A flagged score for review can indicate that the student experienced a significant increase in his/her score.
If the drama of Fields' Stanford admissions decision, and the flagged test score that feeds it, were not drama enough, enter Lute Olson. The Arizona head coach came out twice to watch Fields play this season and was interested enough in the Los Alamitos (Calif.) High School senior wing to bring him in for an official visit this past weekend. Stanford Basketball was no longer working simply in support of Fields' admissions opportunity, but also they were now racing against a longtime Pac-10 foe.
The Cardinal vs. Cats battle for Fields continues this week, but there is one major development for the recruit and his suitors on The Farm.
"I got my SAT score, and my verbal went up 70 points," Fields reveals. "I told the Stanford coaches, and they were pumped about it. They're real excited right now. Real optimistic. They said that they think I can get some kind of [admissions] answer this week."
Rewinding for a moment, we consider where Landry Fields has journeyed in his recruiting relationship with the Cardinal. Identified as an exciting emerging talent at the beginning of the summer, including his standout performances at the High Potential Camp held on Stanford's campus in late June, Fields quickly became a priority recruit at the wing positions for the Cardinal. Baby-faced and physically yet to mature, Fields is already blossoming athletically and has tremendous upside once his strength and body develop. He is a very skilled 6'5" wing who can handle the ball, passes, shoots and has an overall innate feel for the game. Fields is a springy athlete to boot with surprising explosiveness that will only improve.
All that excitement was doused when Fields' academic numbers came in from the end of his junior year. The Los Alamitos student-athlete let his grades slip in the classroom, while he stumbled on the SAT with verbal and math scores in the 400s. But Fields was already hooked on the athletic and academic package available at Stanford and made the decision to wait through the early signing period while he retooled his admissions profile. He buckled down in the classroom and attacked the SAT with greater gravity.
Fields' first retake of the SAT at the beginning of his senior year came on the heels of a test prep course, and his score did rise. However, he added points primarily on the math section, which historically has been less important to the Admissions Office at Stanford. Still anxious to give himself a fighting chance with his application, Fields worked with a tutor strictly focused on the skills that go into the verbal section of the standardized test. He broadened his vocabulary and sharpened his reading comprehension skills, confident that he could raise his score in December.
Now the proud owner of a 550 verbal and 530 math score, Fields is also about to close his first semester of his senior year at Los Alamitos. He reports that he is pulling "straight As" in his courses, an admirable recovery from his spring semester slump.
"It's worth it," the recruit reports of his decision to wait while he improved his academics.
If all goes well, Landry Fields could possibly be granted admission to Stanford within a matter of days. The Cardinal have been his favorite school for as long as his recruitment moved to the high-major level, but Fields says that he will not necessarily pull the trigger if and when he is admitted.
"I think I'll wait," he says. "Coach Olson is coming next Friday. He will sit down with me, my parents and my coach to talk and let us know where we are."
Fields says that Arizona has yet to extend a scholarship offer, but his conversations with the Wildcat coaches point in that direction. Immediately on the heels of his official trip to Tucson, he spoke with assistant coach Josh Pastner on the subject.
"They're real optimistic," Fields offers. "Coach Pastner is real fired up that this will work out. He's very optimistic."
"I really enjoyed my visit to Arizona," the recruit continues. "You know, it reminded me of my Stanford visit in a lot of ways. It was a comfortable environment, and I had a good time with the guys."
The timing of Olson's visit to Los Alamitos may puzzle you. Why wait until two weeks after Fields' official visit for the sit-down? The answer is timing, which largely controls the travel schedule for college coaches during the heat of their conference schedule. It so happens that Arizona is playing in Los Angeles next weekend, and a Friday meeting with the Fields camp nestles nicely between the Wildcats' Thursday and Saturday games at USC and UCLA, respectively.
Stanford admission for Landry Fields is far from assured. A 1080 on the SAT with an up-and-down transcript makes his outcome anybody's guess. But the chances are markedly improved from what Fields possessed in the fall. People throughout the Cardinal community and Orange County are rooting to see a kid get admitted who has worked so hard and successfully to improve himself. But as has been the case throughout the years for many college basketball programs, defeat may be still snatched from the jaws of victory by "Midnight Lute" at the end of this drama. Such would be a crushing conclusion to this journey for Trent Johnson and Stanford Basketball, but the best things in life do not come easy.
We will continue to monitor events with Fields as they unfold the next couple weeks and keep you abreast of all his latest. Stay tuned.
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