The Hawkeyes made a favorable impression on Hughes, Richert said in a telephone interview Sunday night. On Friday, Hughes made an academics focused unofficial visit, mirroring a trip he made to the University of Wisconsin about four weeks ago. He then took part in Iowa's elite camp Saturday and Sunday, though he left Iowa City early Sunday morning so that he could attend his girlfriend's graduation at Wisconsin Lutheran High School in Milwaukee.
Hughes was considered a heavy Wisconsin lean prior to this most recent visit, but Richert said he suspects that the Hawkeyes have closed the gap.
"He said from day one Wisconsin, Iowa are two very high on his list," Richert said. "And they're still two high on his list."
"I thought it (the Iowa visit) went pretty well," he said. "But to say now Iowa's on top? No. I still think it's… Wisconsin's to lose right now, but Iowa is; they're up there, no doubt about it."
Hughes, however, is not ready to make a decision and may not be ready for some time. Now that St. John's school year is complete, Hughes, a Brooklyn native, is flying home next week to be with his family and contemplate his college decision.
Said Richert: "He's at the stage right now where he needs to go home… It's very important that he goes home and discusses everything with his family. He needs that. He has to do that…"
"The time period (for a decision is) whenever Trevon Hughes thinks he is ready," Richert said. "That could be tomorrow. It could be a week. It could be a month. I will say that I doubt that it will be within two weeks only because he's flying out (next week)."
"He does not want to take any official visits," Richert said. "He flat out told me."
It would be difficult for Hughes to take official visits. The NCAA mandates that official trips can only be made when school is in session. And when school is in session, St. John's, as a military academy, has its own restrictions on how and when students can leave campus.
And the prospect of an unofficial trip to Gonzaga, located in Spokane, Wash., presents its own logistical challenges. Richert has taken Hughes on unofficial trips to Midwest programs such as Wisconsin, Iowa and Marquette, but a trip to a destination as far away as Gonzaga is not possible for him from a practical perspective. Hughes and his family, however, could decide to make that unofficial visit or could visit schools on the East Coast while Hughes is home.
Another school that has come into play this spring is Georgia. Hughes has grandparents in the Peach State and Georgia coaches visited St. John's this spring.
"Trevon listened. I asked Trevon if he wanted to go," Richert said. "I told Trevon I'm going down there for my 20-year high school reunion down in Florida. I said I can swing right by Georgia no problem. Just hop in our van with my family and we'll take you and if you want to visit, I'll drop you off, pick you back up on the way home. You can stay with your family."
But, according to Richert, Hughes said he was not interested in making that trip.
"If he wants to do another (unofficial visit), maybe go to Illinois or wherever and it's up to him," Richert said. "We'll go tomorrow if he wants. It's totally in his hands."
Richert said he felt Hughes played very well at the Iowa elite camp. More importantly, the academic visit on Friday was productive.
"They answered every question that he wanted answered," Richert said. "That was perfect. That was… why we went a day early was to make sure that he got provided the same information that was provided in Madison….
"I thought they did a great job. They took us on about a four-hour tour around the whole campus. We got to talk to probably just about anyone that he would be associating with if he chose to go there, from their academics to the trainers to the chef to the coaches to the players to the counselors to the tutors (and) advisors."
Now, of course, what remains is that tricky issue of a final decision.
"We wish we could speed this up too," Richert said. "We don't want this process to keep going. I hope this thing ends tomorrow to be honest with you. But that's up to Trevon, not me.
"To put an 18-year-old young man that's this highly recruited as a talent and you have so many options thrown your way…. I think he's handling it the right way right now."
Richert said he empathized with Wauwatosa East standout Jerry Smith, who reportedly had tentatively scheduled a press conference for May 10 to announce his college decision, then reversed course and decided to take more official visits. Smith now appears to be focused on three schools: Louisville, Wake Forest and Wisconsin, with the Badgers trailing slightly.
"I just want (Hughes) to make the right decision," Richert said. "To delay it and delay it and delay it—And it's the same with Jerry. The reason Jerry's delaying it is because people don't understand how difficult this situation is. They really don't, unless they're close to it like I am (in Hughes' case), and they are close to it in Jerry Smith's family's eyes. They don't realize the stuff that is being promised.
"Every place you go there is a huge portrait of the most beautiful scenery in the world that you've got to choose from."