Los Alamitos (Calif.) High School senior Landry Fields had a lot on his plate last night. His team was facing Edison, who handed Fields and the Griffins their only loss in the Sunset League this year, a crushing 70-69 defeat in the Chargers' home gym in January. In the rematch, Fields and friends pulled away for a 71-57 victory to avoid any repeat drama. Fields scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, while also grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out four assists in the victory, which gives Los Alamitos sole possession of first place in their league.
To add to the pressure for the 6'5" senior guard, Arizona head coach Lute Olson was in the stands with his wife and with assistant coach Josh Pastner. The Wildcats are in the area this weekend playing a pair of Pac-10 games, and Fields knew that the Hall of Fame coach would be in attendance. The three-star win prospect took an official visit to Tucson just two weeks ago and has Arizona as one of his top two favorite schools today.
Fields' other favorite also weighed on his mind on Friday. Stanford was slated to come back with an answer on the student-athlete's admissions application, which has been under review the last couple weeks. Fields has worked for more than half a year to gain admission to Stanford, and that labor bore a beautiful fruit for the Los Alamitos senior Friday night.
"The boys all went out to pizza after the game," reports Fields' mother. "Trent Johnson had left a message at home that he had good news to share and to please call him at any hour. We were at the gym at the time. I heard the message later and said, 'Oh, Landry! Stanford called with the news.' He said, 'I know, Mom.'"
"Landry is pretty excited. We are all so excited," Janice Fields continues. "But you know, Landry is a pretty humble kid. He was around his buddies last night but didn't want to make a big spotlight. He just went back upstairs to play video games. Landry is pretty modest."
To understand the magnitude of Landry Fields' admission to Stanford is to understand the odds he faced and the determination of him and those supporting him to get to this point. The recruit and the Cardinal lit each other up with excitement early last summer when he attended their camp in late June and then continued to dazzle at events throughout the July evaluation period. From that point forward, Stanford was Fields' clear favorite, and the Cardinal had their sights set on the Orange County product as their top wing recruit in the 2006 class.
Then a bombshell dropped. Two dropped, actually. Fields' spring semester grades at Los Alamitos came in low, dropping his cumulative GPA. At the same time, his SAT score from the June test came back well below anything he, his counselors or the Cardinal coaches expected.
"Landry was crushed when the phone call came from Stanford telling him the bad news of his chances at that point," the mother recounts. "But I told him, 'No, no, no. We are going to raise the bar. This is Stanford; this is the Ivy League. You have to compete with the big cats to get in. You can be in that category. You can do this.' And he did. I'm so proud of Landry. He did all the work."
The modest mother is deflecting credit, but she and the Los Alamitos counselors were instrumental in directing Fields toward improvement in his class work as well as his test preparation and focus for the SAT. Twice during his senior year has he retaken the standardized test. When he took a prep course at the beginning of the fall, Fields only bumped his math score significantly, leaving his verbal component still disappointingly low. His support group knew he was capable of better and paired him up with a tutor to hone his reading comprehension and vocabulary skills. Fields raised his verbal score in December so significantly that the ETS held back his results several weeks until late January. Armed with straight A's in his fall semester courses at Los Alamitos and a newly boosted SAT score, Fields pushed forward with Stanford admissions and fielded his victory Friday night.
"The acorn doesn't fall too far from the tree, you see. Nobody tells us there is something we cannot do," Fields' mother maintains.
While no commitment to the Cardinal came forth last night from Landry Fields, this sets the stage for a decision soon from the wing recruit. He has taken official visits to both Stanford and Arizona and has worked for months to reach the day today where he has his current options.
"I actually haven't been able to reach Landry yet this morning either," his mother admits. "It's time for us to sit down and make some decisions now."
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