While your basketball eyes were focused on the Final Four in Atlanta two weekends ago, the "next season" of hoops was already underway in the AAU ranks. Top Stanford target Jarrett Mann donned his Playaz Basketball Club jersey and started the busy travel season that won't stop until the end of July. The first stop for Mann and the Playaz was right at home, hosting their Spring Fling tournament at Seton Hall. They won the event that tipped off April for the top teams in the New York/New Jersey area, beating the Metro Hawks, 69-63, in the final despite the Playaz missing two of their starting guards.
"Individually I played well," Mann assesses. "In the championship game, I led my team with 15 points. I led my team in assists all weekend and was probably second or third on my team in scoring, averaging about 14. I played well. I shot the ball really well - shot the ball a whole lot. I was getting some good shots and a lot of threes. I thought it was pretty good for an opening tournament, but I know I can play better."
"Last year, I think I was more of a slasher and dunker," he adds. "This year, I think my new coach wants me to shoot the ball a lot more. My role has changed, and I think I'm more polished overall."
The Playaz' schedule this month also includes the Charlie Weber Easter Hoop Fest, the Pittsburgh JamFest and the mammoth 465-team King James Shooting Stars Classic to close the April viewing period. Mann has a mature recruitment and an already wide list of offers and suitors, which takes some of the pressure off his performances in front of college coaches this month.
"As a player, you want to show yourself well and always want to build up more offers, but I'm satisfied with the schools I have," he says. "I do want to have a strong April and show a lot of scouts what I can do now because I think I've improved a whole lot."
The recruitment of the Middletown (Del.) High School standout, who last week was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Delaware, does have an interesting flavor, however. The schools that hold his highest interest currently are not found among his offer list of Georgetown, Virginia, Penn State, Xavier, Rutgers, St. Joseph's, Richmond and UTEP.
"Wake just got a commitment from Ty Walker, and I'm next on their list," Mann says of the Demon Deacons. "I have talked to Coach [Skip] Prosser a lot of times. He hasn't actually said the words, 'We have offered you a scholarship,' but everything he is saying is about how he really wants me. They have invited me down. I have taken three visits there, and they want me back for another one."
"Florida - I have taken a visit. I talked to them a couple of times during the [NCAA] Tournament run," he continues. "Baylor actually just got in touch with me. They saw me play all summer, but I guess now they're just getting in touch with me. They have shown a lot of interest just in the last month. I'll be visiting there in August, along with Texas. Coach [Rick] Barnes has seen me play twice. This season they came and watched me practice. They email my mom often."
Mann lacks a full scholarship offer from Stanford only because he has yet to gain admission to the school. Trent Johnson has made the 6'5" 190-pound Delaware athlete a high priority this year, and Mann is reciprocating the interest with a cross-country unofficial visit later this week, starting Thursday.
"I think it's important. I have a lot of expectations for it, so I want to see what everything is like," Mann says of his visit to the Cardinal campus. "I'm going to be far away from home, so I just want to make sure that I'm comfortable."
"The student body is important. Also the facilities," he continues. "I'm pretty sure I'll be comfortable there. I just want to make there's nothing too extreme. The academics I understand are going to be difficult, and I accept that. I just want to make sure the place I'll be - the campus - will be nice. I just want to make sure I know what I'm getting into."
With a 3.7 GPA at Middletown High School and a 1620 on the SAT (1100 M+V), Mann feels secure in his academic abilities and readiness for The Farm.
"Being recruited by Stanford, I know that my grades have to be top of the line. That's not really a question. I'm willing to work for all that," he maintains. "That's not really anything that could turn me off or turn me away."
Currently on spring break, Mann is completing his Stanford admissions application. He has gathered all of his teacher recommendations and filled out the information packet. All that remains is the finishing touches on his essays.
Nobody else on his list has asked Mann to submit an admissions application as part of the recruiting process. The Delaware student-athlete has accepted the challenge because of the relationship he has with the Cardinal coaches.
"We talk about games. We talk about some of the things that they would like me to do if I was to go there. Sometimes its about basketball, but sometimes we talk just like friends," the recruit reveals. "Coach Johnson lets me know where Stanford stands and how they are really interested."
In recent weeks, Mann has conversed with another Cardinal figure of interest, though this one a peer recruit in the Class of 2008 from the Lone Star State.
"I'm getting really close to Jeremy Green. We're pretty cool now," Mann says. "We've been talking for probably the last month."
"My mom started talking to his mom. I guess they had concerns about us going on the West Coast and things like that," Mann explains. "We exchanged numbers, and we text a couple times every week. We talk about basketball. In August I'm going to visit him. I have family down there, and I'm going to go stay down there. I'll stay with him a couple nights, and we'll go work out and chill out for a little while in August."
For Stanford's top two guard/wing recruits in the country to be conversing is unexpected and noteworthy. Mann might again make headlines in Cardinal recruiting if all goes well on The Farm this weekend.
"I just think that I'm really comfortable with them," he says. "I'm not exactly sure when I'll commit - I can't really put a timetable on it. Depending on how much I like the visit, I may commit there. I may wait. I'm just not sure."
Stay tuned to TheBootleg.com for all the latest as Jarrett Mann makes his highly anticipated unofficial visit and this Cardinal recruiting story takes a giant leap forward.
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