C Dwight Powell narrows in on Card

Four-star center Center Dwight Powell took an official visit to Stanford last weekend, is visiting Harvard on an official this weekend, has a Georgia Tech official on Oct. 10 and hopes to make a decision at the start of November's early-signing period. Luckily for the Cardinal faithful though, Powell was nothing but positive in describing Stanford...

Center Dwight Powell attends IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., a boarding school for elite athletic prospects. The high school's alumni could field a small Olympic delegation – names include Vince Carter and Sebastian Telfair in basketball, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Anna Kournikova, Venus and Serena Williams, Martina Hingis and Monica Seles in tennis, golf's Sean O'Hair, soccer's Demarcus Beasley and baseball's Nomar Garciaparra, Gary Sheffield, Trot Nixon, Ben Sheets, Kevin Millar and Adam Dunn, among countless other stars. So while Powell certainly isn't the biggest recruit to come out of IMG, he may be the one who matters most to whichever of three candidate schools sign the 6'10" 205-pound center. (Powell might also be one of the brightest recruits to come out of IMG Academy, as he's the best-spoken recruit I've ever interviewed, hands down. Maybe, after basketball, a future in broadcasting awaits the young man?)

Powell took an official visit to Stanford last weekend, is visiting Harvard on an official this weekend and will venture to Atlanta for an official with Georgia Tech on Oct. 10. After his final visit, he hopes to make his decision at the start of November's early-signing period.

Of course, of most interest to Card fans is Powell's trip to the Farm, last weekend. Luckily for the faithful, Powell was nothing but positive in describing Stanford, and his official visit there.

"It was really good," Powell said. "I think, obviously, it's one of the most beautiful campuses there are. What stood out to me were the people. They all had a good message, a good idea of what school's supposed to be like, combining sports and academics, both being on a high level, so it was an impressive visit.

"There were a lot of meetings with people involved in the school – professors and academic advisors. I watched the [San Jose State] football game and spent time with the coaching staff and players. So it was good mix of things, being with the players and seeing what it would be like."

As Scout.com's No. 11 center in his 2010 class, a solid four-star prospect, Powell had no shortage of colleges offering him athletic scholarships. Ultimately, however, his finalists came down to three schools in very different locales and with similarly varied identities. As an Ivy League school, Harvard, for example, is not a school most four-star recruits seriously consider, but Powell is confident in all his finalists – including the Crimson.

"Every school has a different set of things to offer," he explains of his serious consideration of the Crimson. "Harvard's a different situation than Stanford, obviously, because they're in the Ivy League, which isn't the Pac-10. But they're in a good situation in terms of coaching staff, in terms of development. As far as getting to next level, if you're good enough, they'll find you. You just get better at a school like Harvard."

Like Stanford, Georgia Tech is a school with a solid academic reputation and a similarly solid tradition of basketball in a major conference. For Powell, a major draw of the Ramblin' Wreck is their staff.

"I like the staff there," he said. "That's important to me, the staff, because you're putting your future in their hands in terms of your development, both on the court and off it. It's a great academic school in the ACC, which is a great league and a lot of players come out of there. They're a program that's kind of a proven product."

Though Palo Alto, Calif. is decidedly suburban, while Tech's campus (and basketball arena) is but a full-court pass away from the Downtown Connector (I-75 and I-85 merge into a 16-lane highway, one of the world's widest, for seven miles in downtown Atlanta), setting is not high on Powell's priority list. It would be hard to come up with three locales more distinct than Cambridge, Mass., Palo Alto and Atlanta, yet the differences in scenery will have relatively little effect on Powell's decision.

"Actually, to tell you the truth, at the beginning it was extremely important, but as I've learnt more about what college is truly about, I'm not that much concerned about setting," Powell said. "They're all so different. There are positives and negatives of being in the city or outside the city rather than in the city, but that will weigh very little on my decision."

Instead, Powell views college as a time for maturation, the time a child becomes an adult.

"I think," Powell said, "college is about growth as much as you can, in as many ways as you can, in a short period of time. It's your first time truly on your own."

And the growth process that is college is one Powell intends to complete. While he wouldn't be opposed to jumping early to the NBA if the situation were right (not to jinx him), he knows that he would still find a way to graduate college.

"I want to get a degree," Powell said. "If I have to, I'll come back or make a different plan. That's a major part of my decision, the value of the degree from all three schools. They all have valuable degrees, and so it would be a waste not to take advantage of that."

Admittedly, Powell is less sure of exactly what he wishes to do with his bachelor's degree.

"I really don't know," he said. "I've thought about start my own thing, my own business, something completely new. I haven't thought too much even about a major, but I want to be successful, and a good degree will help me on that path."

Success is often a two-way street, and in this instance, whichever school lands Powell figures to parlay the signing into additional hardwood success over the next several years. Indeed, as a high-priority recruit, Powell has been receiving that message straight from each school's respective head coach himself.

"At all three schools, I've been primarily dealing with the head coach, which has been great," Powell said. "I love dealing with assistants, but the head coach is the head coach. I can hear what he has in mind for me and hear what's going on from him personally. So from that perspective, I have a great relationship with all the coaches."

Powell added that he's been talking with Stanford's staff for the longest and Georgia Tech's the shortest amount of time.

"My relationship with Coach Dawkins is really good," Powell said. "We've been communicating from the very beginning. He came down the first day he was able to come to a school visit when I was junior, so that showed me something. There he was, coming to see an underclassman rather than a senior for his upcoming class. That showed me he was very interested, which is good. He's just a great guy – I'm sure you can ask anyone around campus and they'll have great things to say about him.

"And the players are awesome. They all have a good mindset and are there for the same reason. They understand the privilege they have. Taking care of basketball and academics is not only a challenge but a blessing, to be there and compete. They are all good guys."

Stay tuned to The Bootleg for all the latest on Dwight Powell and Stanford men's basketball!

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