Way Out West

West Virginia expanded its profile in March with its Big East and NCAA tournament successes, and as a result is drawing interest from at least one player outside the Mountaineers' normal recruiting area.

Casper, Wyo., isn't a place the WVU coaching staff typically haunts, but they are certainly paying more attention to the wide-open spaces of the west after catching the play of Eric Platt during July. The rising senior, who plays at Kelly Walsh High School, began turning heads this summer during his first year of AAU play.

"West Virginia got involved with me mid-summer of this year," said the polite and well-spoken Platt, who admits that he is still getting used to the newfound attention that his stellar summer play has yielded. "It was kind of weird that a school that far away is interested in me, but this is my first year of AAU competition, so I guess more teams are having the chance to see me."

Like Wisconsinite Adam Koch, Platt has encountered a big boost in his confidence after squaring off with some of the best players in the nation. His Colorado Chaos AAU team faced a number of elite teams in AAU tournaments in Indianapolis and Kentucky, and the results of his play left him feeling better about himself – not to mention raising his profile among from college recruiters.

"The more notice I've been getting, it's kind of sinking in that I can play against these types of players," Platt said. "It's a big boost to your confidence when you play against Top 25 kids. It's been kind of a surprise for me."

WVU first saw Platt when he was, as he says, "hitting his peak" at the Hoosier Shootout, and since then the entire Mountaineer staff has seen him at AAU events. And although West Virginia has not yet offered the Wyoming star, the Mountaineers are keeping close tabs on him as his senior season looms.

For those thinking that Wyoming is simply too far away for WVU to be a serious player, think again. Other than instate Wyoming (located more than 200 miles away in Laramie), Platt is considering a number of schools that aren't exactly around the corner.

"It's not like we're close to a lot of schools," Platt said with a laugh. "We're kind of isolated out here. Wherever I go will be a long trip, so I don't think it will be difficult for me to adjust."

Some of the schools high on Platt's interest list are Pepperdine ("I've visited and like them a lot – the coaches are good guys"), Gonzaga ("I'm good friends with Adam Morrison and have visited there a couple of summers") and San Diego State ("They've come out of the blue and been really interested. Steve Fisher is their coach, and he coached the Fab Five at Michigan").

With West Virginia's rising interest, you can probably place the Mountaineers in that group as well.

"I will definitely consider them," Platt said of the easternmost school on his list. "You look at how well they fared in the tourney last year, but they were steady the whole year. I think they have great potential, and I will try to set up a visit there."

Platt would like to get the recruiting process completed before his senior season begins, but admits that schedule might not hold up.

"My goal is to sign in the early signing period, but if other schools come in and want to see how I do during my senior season, I might wait," said Platt, who has obviously made careful consideration of the many ramifications of recruiting. "I'd like to sign early, but I might have to wait until [the spring]. Wherever I go, I want to get a spot with good players and good coaches."

NOTES

  • At 6-5 and 205 pounds, Platt plays both the two and three spots. He believes he is a little better at guard, where he can use his height and ball handling skills to better advantage.

  • Like many WVU recruiting targets, one of Platt's strengths is his outside shooting. He says he wants to improve his midrange jumper and defense during the coming season, and believes that his quickness, another feature of his game, will help him do so.

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