Austin Freeman might be the most highly recruited basketball player in the Washington area these days. Though only a junior, the DeMatha High guard has plenty of college scholarship offers and hears recruiting pitches so often that he will make a decision before the start of the season, Stags Coach Mike Jones said.
"He's getting tired of the calls and people asking," Jones said. "For the most part, guys like a Freeman, who are going to get recruited at that level, [the intense recruiting is] going to happen eventually, it's just happening sooner. If you're good and get noticed, you're going to go through this process at some time. It's impossible not to."
Freeman is not the only one. Increasingly, high schoolers are committing to colleges earlier. Montrose Christian swingman Greivis Vasquez, perhaps the most sought-after senior yet to make a decision locally, also could make his choice soon.
Of course, part of the reason for players being able to make decisions sooner is that colleges begin recruiting them sooner. If you're not in on the ground level -- recruiting a player from early in his career -- then it is harder to advance to the next level and be among a player's final options. So by the time a player gets to his junior year, it is not difficult to see him get burned out by the process, Jones said.
"The whole process wears on you," Jones said. "It seems like [committing early] is the trend, anyway. Everybody is committing very early -- a lot before their senior year, a lot before their junior year. If you look at the top 100 players in the class of , none of those guys have played a game in their junior year yet but I guarantee that 35 to 40 percent of them have made their college choice already.
"This is all normal. Austin is a little late by some people's standards."
Jones noted that even if Freeman makes his decision soon, he will not be the first local player from his class to announce his choice. Mike Beasley, who was All-Met as a sophomore last season while playing for Riverdale Baptist, more than one year ago picked Charlotte. (Beasley has since transferred to Oak Hill Academy in southwestern Virginia for this season.)
As for Freeman, he has taken unofficial visits to Maryland and Georgetown. This weekend he will visit North Carolina State; next weekend Notre Dame. Those are the four schools that Jones expects Freeman will choose from, though Syracuse also could be in the mix.
"Anytime you ask him, he'll list 12 or 13 schools, but I think those five are the ones he's seriously considering," Jones said. "The bottom line is if Austin and his dad and mom are comfortable with making [a decision] that's their business and their choice, too."
Jones said he does not expect any of his other players to make college choice soon. (Senior point guard Nigel Munson picked Virginia Tech before last season.) Junior forward Jerai Grant is "being recruited by half the ACC and most of the Big East, but he's a guy who probably is going to make a decision after the season or before next season," Jones said.
Go West, Young Man
Georgetown Prep All-Met offensive lineman Andrew Phillips this week committed to play football for Stanford, Little Hoyas Coach Dan Paro said. Phillips also considered Maryland, Duke, Northwestern and North Carolina before deciding to continue his playing career across the country.
Walk-on defensive end Alfred Johnson of Sidwell is the only Washington-area player currently on the Cardinal roster, but the team has had some success recruiting this area. A pair of All-Mets -- running back Brandon Royster of Fairfax and lineman Drew Caylor of Bethesda-Chevy Chase -- recently completed their college careers.
"For any kid to go from the East Coast to the West Coast" is a big decision, Paro said. "I tell kids that when you go out west, you don't know when you'll come home. But he felt the right was right for him."
Paro said that sophomore running backs Chase Williams and Marcus Dowtin have yet to be recruited much, but he expects that will change soon.
"I'm sure this summer they will get a lot of opportunities," Paro said. "That was when Andrew was first offered, the summer before his junior year."