Visit Report - Darnell Gant

Maybe you don't need a great basketball program to attract the top prospects on the west coast. Perhaps all you need is pancakes and hamburgers. In hearing Darnell Gant talk about his official visit to Washington this past weekend, basketball did not take a backseat, but the 'cakes and burgers made an impression nonetheless.

"It was exciting," Gant told Sunday night of his visit, one that started early Friday morning. And as we all know, you can't have a great day unless you have a great breakfast.

"We had incredible pancakes."

Meeting UW President Mark Emmert and the Dean of the Business School and Dean of the Music Department would have to take a backseat to the flapjacks, if just for this one day - but not for too long. "Music is my second love after basketball," Gant added.

But just a few hours later, it was off to the RAM for lunch. "I had the best hamburger I ever have," he said of the vaunted 'Husky burger'.

But enough of the gastronomical delights; it was time to get down to business. Gant got a chance to see Washington's facilities before watching a Huskies' practice session.

"That's my style of coaching," he said when asked about UW Head Coach Lorenzo Romar and what he saw. "They stay on you. They are cool with you off the floor, but when you step inside that square it's straight down to business."

Then came the time that Gant had been waiting for - a game. He laced up his sneaks and got to work, going up against Washington's Jon Brockman. At 6-foot-8 and 200 pounds, Gant can hold his own, but Brockman presented his own special challenges. "He never stopped runnin'," Gant said. He received a badge of honor when Brockman accidentally hit him in the chin when he went up for an alley-oop. "It didn't affect him, that's how strong he is," Gant said of the sophomore captain of the hoop dawgs.

Gant wasn't the only recruit on campus for an official visit. Curtis guard Isaiah Thomas - already verbally committed to Washington - was on hand as well. "He's the best point guard in the 2007 class," Gant said of Thomas. "He scores when he has too, but this weekend, he can get you the ball. He showed that he knows how to pass it."

When asked which players he spent time with, Gant started rolling out the names. "Spencer (Hawes)...that's my man," he said of the frosh center from Seattle. "I got real cool with Spencer. Him and Harvey (Perry), Tim (Morris), Phil (Nelson) and Quincy Pondexter. Quincy, we were in a dunk contest together. He won, but I should have won. It's OK, he's cool."

It doesn't sound like Gant had an issue playing up to the level of a team that was in the Sweet Sixteen just six months ago. "I never thought I could hang at the collegiate level, but from what I was doing on Saturday, I feel pretty good about it," he said. "It was nothing like what I thought it was going to be. It was incredible. They all get along like it's one big old family."

And Romar? "He's a good person, he's a family man," Gant said. "He takes care of his family. He's got a wife and three kids. I loved his house. His house was huge."

The Huskies reiterated their scholarship offer to Gant, but didn't press him to make his intentions known. "I felt like I was at home," he added.

The basketball guys were able to show Gant that there's more to life at Montlake than just hoops. In fact, they all went to see Washington nip Fresno State Saturday afternoon at Husky Stadium. It made an impression on Gant. "That was a big stadium. That thing was huge," he said.

Gant will visit Oregon this coming weekend. "Maybe I might go to Kentucky," he added. He has offers from both the Ducks and Wildcats.

Does Gant profess a leader at this point? Clearly his recent visit is still fresh in his mind. "Washington is leading right now," Gant said. "Kentucky has an edge over Oregon maybe. With Washington, I'm kind of leaning that way. I felt like I fit in. I feel really good about the program."

That sentiment fits in with what Gant already knew about the Huskies' program from those he listens to in Los Angeles. "They say that Washington is big-time," he said. "They have a good program. That's what the kids say. The older folks say that you could make some noise at Washington, it's a good place. They could get you ready for the NBA."
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