With Stanford Basketball signing five scholarship players in their 2006 recruiting class, the Cardinal should have had a full complement of 13 scholarship players on their roster in the coming season. That is a pedestrian accomplishment for many college basketball programs, but Stanford has not enjoyed 13 scholarship players together since the 2000-01 team. NBA early entries and some recruiting shortfalls have handicapped the Cardinal since.
Despite giving the full five scholarships available in this '06 class, Stanford looked like they would fall short of a full roster come the fall when Tim Morris departed unexpectedly in the spring. That did, however, open the door for another Bay Area transfer looking for a new home. University of San Francisco freshman guard Drew Shiller at the end of his 2005-06 season decided the Dons were not the home for the remainder of his college career. Shiller's transfer announcement preceded that of Morris by a month, so it was obvious to neither Shiller nor Stanford that the two could come together. The USF freshman was simply seeking a change.
"When I committed [to USF] at the very beginning of my senior year, I hadn't finished my football season and explored the full possibilities of the sports I could play in college," Shiller begins. "I closed that option when I committed early."
Shiller had the ability to play baseball in addition to his scholarship sport of basketball at USF, but he found himself unhappy before he ever suited up on the diamond. Deciding to transfer, Shiller looked at schools where he could do double-duty in football and basketball.
"I was most likely going to the Ivy League or Bucknell. Or maybe [UC] Davis," he shares.
Then an opportunity became available at Stanford, where Shiller was also heavily involved during his recruitment at Burlingame (Calif.) High School. The Cardinal were evaluating their needs versus Shiller's ability in the early fall of 2004 when the local three-sport star committed to USF. 18 months later, the chance opened again for the two Peninsula parties to come together. It was a confounding development that Shiller would consider Stanford Basketball, given that his quotes reported at the time of his transfer decision in March discussed football. But his pining for the pigskin was a symptom rather than the disease.
"I wanted to leave regardless," he says of his USF transfer. "I wanted to leave and find a new opportunity. I just want to compete and be on a winning team."
"When Stanford offered a basketball scholarship, that was just unbelievable," Shiller shares. "That's where I have always wanted to be. It was my dream school."
"Stanford is Stanford," he continues. "There is no other place that can give you that experience. The academics are the best in the country, and the caliber of basketball is the best playing in the Pac-10."
And that has him excited, even if the three-sport athlete has just a hoop in his future?
"Basketball is my favorite sport," he explains. "I feel like I have a lot to prove, and this is a chance to play against the UCLA's, Washington's, Arizona's and Cal. Every game is big time game. And I'm excited just to be at the school. The people I will meet at Stanford are a big part of the experience."
It is apparent that Shiller sees much that Stanford can offer him. While the former USF student-athlete (classes concluded May 18) was accepted via transfer admission on May 19, he has yet to sign the scholarship papers to make his transfer to Stanford official. The Cardinal coaches as such cannot yet comment on their perspective of how Shiller can help them, but the 6'0" 185-pound guard summarizes the story.
"Besides Mitch Johnson, there are no other pure point guards in the system. In college, you obviously need more than one point guard," Shiller offers. "I bring a lot of leadership. I played three sports in high school, and I was the leader on most of those teams. People looked to me for guidance in tough situations. Besides the basketball skills, I want to help Stanford get back to the Sweet 16 and beyond, where they belong."
Shiller averaged 16.3 minutes per game off the bench this past winter at USF, scoring 4.4 points on 39.8% overall shooting and 37.3% from three-point range.
"The offense will come. I don't see that being a problem," he says of his Stanford Basketball future. "My defense is mostly what I want to work on. Look at Steve Nash - nobody gave him credit for his defense, but he's out there guarding NBA point guards. I will have to be guarding the Jordan Farmar's and the great point guards in the Pac-10, so I have a lot of work to do."
His admissions application was the big hurdle, but Drew Shiller will take another important step today when he and his family make their first visit to Stanford since this transfer process was first explored. The last time Shiller had a face-to-face meeting with Trent Johnson came in June 2004 at Stanford's High Potential Camp.
"My parents just haven't met him," the son explains. "We want to hear what expectations Coach Johnson has. It's more of an informational meeting."
The informal visit later today on the Cardinal campus should precede the signed papers for Shiller's transfer to The Farm. After that time, we will bring you more on the Peninsula point guard's story, including Johnson's take on the newest addition to the Stanford roster.
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