Getting "Serious" About a Center

He's Jamie Vanderbeken, the 6-10, 230-pound junior center from Canada, and he says that four schools - three from the west coast -- have been getting "serious" about him this spring, including UCLA...

Jamie Vanderbeken, the 6-10 junior center from Belleville (Ontario, Canada) Quinte, said he's been hearing from more schools – and more consistently – since the April evaluation period.

"I haven't been offered a scholarship yet," Vanderbeken said. "But there are some schools that seem pretty serious about recruiting me."

The schools that Vanderbeken cited as "serious" about him that he likes are Oregon State, UCLA, Pepperdine and Minnesota. "Those four have been calling me once a week and sending me things," Vanderbeken said. "A coach from Oregon State came out to see me at my high school, too. There are a lot of schools recruiting me, but those are the ones I like that have been recruiting me pretty seriously lately."

All four of those schools, according to Vanderbeken, have indicated they want the skilled center to visit their campuses. "When they call or e-mail, they're asking me to come out for a visit. Oregon State wants me to visit, and Pepperdine has asked. UCLA mentioned that they wanted me to come out."

With three of his schools being on the west coast, it might seem that he wants to get away from home for college. "Not really," he said. "That's just the way it happened. It really makes no difference where the school is. Whatever school is the best fit for me."

What is Vanderbeken actually then looking for in a college? "I'm looking for good academics, a good environment, good coaches, and playing time. Just a place where I feel comfortable," he said. And he indicated he had no preference for a big or small college environment. "I'd be okay in either. It probably wouldn't make a difference."

It will be interesting to see just how many more schools get interested in Vanderbeken, or which among those that are recruiting him will actually offer since college coaches might have a limited amount of time to see the center. He said that, because of summer school, he probably wouldn't be playing in many events during the July evaluation period. "I was invited to the Nike and the Adidas camps, but they're a whole week and I can't miss that much summer school."

Vanderbeken did say he'd probably be able to participate in the Main Event in Las Vegas in late July, playing with his traditional AAU team, Ontario Mission (he played with the Ontario Cyclones in Vegas in April for a one-time gig). He said, "Since it will just be a few days, I can probably get out of summer school to go to Main Event."

The fact that Vanderbeken has to go to summer school might set off an alarm for some college coaches, but he explains: "I never knew how many credits I'd need according to the NCAA. It's 14 core classes, and I'm nowhere near that number. Just up until a couple of months ago, I just thought I needed to maintain a good GPA and do well enough on the SAT. No one told me. So right now I have about seven core classes and I need seven, so I'm going to take one or two classes this summer, so I'll be able to get them all done by next year."

Vanderbeken said it's difficult to translate his Canadian GPA into an American GPA, but said he probably is well over the equivalent of a 3.0, and he scored an 820 on his first attempt at the SAT, which is barely passing by NCAA standards. "But I'm taking it again on Saturday and I'll do better this time," he said.

When it comes to a timetable for a commitment, Vanderbeken said it's very much undetermined. "I've been thinking that I'll probably want to sign early (in the early November signing period)," he said. "I don't know if I'd verbally commit before that. It depends on so much."


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