Buck Cut Q&A

Her list had stood at seven schools for months, but now four-star center Heather Buck has trimmed her list to a final four suitors: Stanford, UConn, Maryland and Holy Cross. Upon that news, the Pawcatuck (Conn.) Stonington High School senior was willing to answer some questions on the how, when and why surrounding the cut. Also what may come next as she moves toward a college decision.

You had been at seven schools for a while now, and I'm sure for good reason.  What has been the most difficult thing for you in narrowing these options down?

"A lot of it was just evaluating what was most important - what was going to best be able to help me where I want to go.  The hardest part of all was calling the coaches."

And you had relationships with some of those coaches for a very long time, hadn't you?

"Yeah, I had visited all of the schools and had phone conversations with all of them.  They had seen me play high school games and AAU games.  It was very hard to get on the phone and say, 'Sorry but it has to end.'  That's not how I said it at all to any of them."

You said that you have selected these four schools for how they can help you best with where you want to go.  Can you elaborate a little bit on the criteria that these four schools will aid you in these future plans?

"At all of these schools, I really felt comfortable with the girls and the coaches.  I don't know exactly what I want to do, but I feel like that these would be good places to get started doing it.  I don't know what I want to pursue academically, but obviously Stanford and Holy Cross are both great academic schools.  UConn and Maryland both have great programs, too.  I just felt like, looking at the group, that they were the four where I fit in best."

Do you find that as you and your family are discussing schools, are you discussing more about the basketball side of this decision?  Or more on academics?

"We talk more about the basketball side of things.  Of course academics comes up.  I don't want to speak for the rest of them, but I think the common feeling is that wherever I go, I will push myself academically and I will do the best I can.  I can make it the best it can be, and I will do that."

If you feel confidence and comfort in all of these schools on the academic side, what are some of the basketball issues that you are most closely exploring?

"It's really important that you fit in with the girls on the team.  Also that you're comfortable with the coaches and their style, so that you trust them and their judgments.  All of those kinds of things."

So it sounds like it's a holistic thing, with an overall comfort and feel.  You're not necessarily breaking down how a center gets used in a program or what kind of offense they run - those kinds of basketball criteria?

"Yeah, what kind of offense they run, I haven't looked at that much.  I have looked a little bit how the different role that centers play, and the role that both they see me play and I see myself possibly being able to play.  Those kinds of things, yeah, I have thought about.  But being comfortable and fitting in I think is most important because the team and the coaches are the people you are going to be around for a significant amount of time."

You've been wrestling with this for a long time, so what triggered the timing and prompted you now that you were able to get to four schools?

"In Atlanta at the Showtime National Championships [June 10-15], all of the schools were there for games.  I felt like it was kind of time to figure things out - let the schools who I am not as interested in move on.  And let myself move on, to really focus on a smaller group of schools."

So when you returned home, you felt it was time for you and your family to get this thing cut down?

"Yeah, most of it I did on my own.  My family is there to support me.  If I have any questions, they are glad to answer them.  If I want to hear their thoughts, they'll share them with me.  But for the most part, this is something that I'm doing on my own.  That kind of sounds bad because it sounds like my family is leaving me alone and not helping me at all [laughs].  It's not where they want to go.  It's where I want to go.  I do listen to their input, and they share it.  But they don't try to push anything on me."

Late July here, the final seven trims down to four.  What is the next step and what is your best guess for when between now and the November signing period for when that step takes place?

"I have said before that I don't really have any ideas of when I'll decide between now and November.  That hasn't changed, and I don't quite know where I'll go from here.  But I guess it's just going to be more narrowing and a closer look at these last four schools."

Do you think that you could conceivably jump from four schools to the final one, or will it be easier for you to first step down to three schools or two before the big final decision?

"Either way would be fine with me [laughs].  Maybe I'll just go to one, but I really don't know."

Do you feel like the rest of this process can be conducted through soul searching and your own personal examination of these options, where the visits you have already taken to these schools gives you all you need?  Or do you see yourself possibly making additional visits, maybe even official visits, to make the final decision?

"Since I have visited all of the schools, I kind of feel like there is not going to be much new to see on an official visit.  I think mostly I need to be thinking and weighing options, deciding what is most important to me.  Hopefully a decision will come out of that.  If it doesn't, then I might have to take more visits."

Do you have any thoughts on what is the next filter which you want to apply to these schools, given that you already feel so comfortable with the girls, the coaches and the campuses at all four?  What is a tighter criterion that you could apply, which you think would help separate some of these schools?

"I haven't really thought a lot about the further narrowing of this group.  That's probably something I can better answer in a week or two."

Are you done with basketball this month, or is there anything left that you and the Rhode Island Breakers still have to play in July?

"We have one last tournament this weekend at Seton Hall.  It's the Big Apple Tournament of Champions."

How would you judge that your July has been in your individual basketball development, and how do you feel about the success that your team has had?

"In Atlanta, we underachieved in the 16-year-old tournament, but we did pretty well in the 17-year-old tournament.  It seemed like in the first tournament, we all were a little too tense.  We weren't really letting the game flow.  I think had we been more relaxed and played more like ourselves, the way we usually do and the way we did in the 17s tournament, we could have done better.  We lost two games early in a row - our second and third games.  One was an overtime loss, and the other one we kind of got killed [laughs]."

"Then we kind of regrouped and got things back on track.  From there I thought we played well.  We still lost two games in the 17s tournament, but we felt a lot better about how we played.  The one team we lost to, I guess they had all of their girls going to ACC schools.  We were pretty happy with ourselves."

"Personally, the game I was most proud of was a game where we were playing a little quick team, where they were driving to the basket a lot.  I didn't have any fouls [laughs].  I stayed and played at the [adidas Top Ten All American] camp on Sunday night, and that was a new experience.  It was playing with a group of girls I had never played with before.  It was great competition, and we were all exhausted.  Some of us had just played five games; others had just played 10.  It was one of those things where you had to do a gut check and keep going.  It was a new and different but great experience."

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