When center Drew Naymick came out to visit Stanford in June for his unofficial yet crucial visit, the Cardinal's chances received a good 'pop.' From a position as a longshot, the Card jumped into Drew's top three. All that is good about the program, campus and team impressed the youngster from North Muskegon, Michigan. Suddenly Stanford had a real shot at landing as many as two of the nation's premier big men in the 2003 class.
But I am here to report that Stanford is in a nearly intractable position of peril with the Michigan center today. I talked with Drew after he returned from a hectic two weeks in Indianapolis and Kansas City at the Nike Camp and Jerry Mullen event, respectively, and he has strongly advanced his thinking about his recruitment. He has decided that he wants to make his final decision in the next few days before he starts the Adidas Big Time tournament in Las Vegas on Monday with his Grand Rapids Storm AAU team. And at this time, the in-state Michigan schools lead Stanford and Ohio State. Naymick is quick to say that it is a small margin that separates the two pairs, but he is also a polite young man who is careful to soften the blow of bad news to schools. Moreover, you won't catch him saying a bad word about any of them.
"The situations at all four schools are really good. They would not be in my final four otherwise. I can't go wrong with any of them."
Specific to Stanford, Drew says that it is a "great school with a great basketball program," and he spoke effusively about how he knew he would love it if he came to the Farm for school. But the killer for the Cardinal is, alas, distance. Pure and simple, Drew has come to feel more strongly about staying close to home. He cites the desire to play in front of his family and friends, who have supported him for so many years. For all the good he could reap from Stanford, and though he said he knew he could make new friends out there, there is both a comfort level and duty to be close to home.
And that kind of calling isn't something you can easily overcome in recruiting. To make matters more difficult for Stanford, Drew said several times that he feels confident that he has amassed all the information he needs from the four schools. Though coaches can call him right now during this brief window between the two July evaluation periods, he does not believe they have much they can say to recruit him at this point. He simply needs time to sort it all out. Translation: though it would seem to require a miracle eleventh-hour call from Stanford coach Mike Montgomery to right the sinking ship, the miracle shop appears to be shut down for business right now.
For what it is worth, Drew cited a couple specific attractions to the in-state schools. For Michigan, he was clear in noting the recent troubles they have had in basketball, but he is very intrigued with the prospect of being there for Tommy Ammaker as a "big piece of the puzzle to turn it around." Michigan State has displayed consistent excellence, and he would relish the chance to be a part of that. I got no read on which of the two will likely be his final destination.
On the court of late, Drew has made big strides toward regaining his form of this past winter. Recall that he lost some parts of his game when he played baseball this spring, notably his midrange jump shot. He told me that he still isn't taking as many of those shots as he might like, but he is hitting them at a better percentage now. Drew feels he stacked up pretty well against the competition at the Nike Camp, and continued that success in Kansas City. Two areas he is still working at include his problem with bringing the ball down when he makes his post moves, and adding a left-handed hook to go with his right-handed move.
My prognosis is that Drew Naymick has all but gone flat-line for Stanford. Expect an in-state decision this weekend.