“Oh, of course,” Hand said Wednesday night. “If you keep doing what you’re doing by managing all that stuff, of course I have time for myself. Football shouldn’t run your life. I just do it for fun.
“When I went out for the team in high school, I didn’t know about college football like that. I was more of an NFL guy. Once I got to high school, after my freshman year, I got to know about the NCAA, and ever since then it’s been a fun ride. I always enjoy myself.”
So there you have it. Hand, a two-time All-Met rated by Rivals.com as the nation’s top overall prospect in the class of 2014, is buoyed not burdened as he embarks on a recruiting trip this weekend to Michigan, one of his five finalists, along with Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Hand is easing back into recruitment mode after issuing a polite sort of give-me-some-space tweet on Feb. 6: I’m taking a break from the recruiting process for a while. I will not be contacting any coaches until march. I need time to focus on school.
For the most part, Hand said, recruiters honored his hibernation. He went to North Carolina’s junior day last weekend and his planned trip to Michigan, coinciding with the start of the Wolverines’ spring practice, apparently has Ann Arbor buzzing.
Hand’s cousin and teammate, Woodbridge “athlete” Marcus Boone, also has been making the rounds with Hand on some of the trips. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll end up at the same school.
“He has his own recruitment thing and I have my own,” Hand said. “We don’t like to mix it. Of course reporters ask all the time if it’s a “duo deal” or blah, blah blah. Nah, man. I want a school to like me for me and he wants a school to like him for him. We want to keep it that way. We’re not going to go to a school based off each other.
“When we get together, we don’t even talk about recruiting. Football shouldn’t run your life. It should be more of a hobby. Of course we’ll have to get more serious about it, but the ultimate goal in football in high school is to have fun. We don’t really treat it as a business.”
Hand, known more as a wrestler when he entered high school, had gotten away from that sport but returned to it this winter. He was the Northwest Region heavyweight runner-up and won his first match at the Virginia AAA state tournament before dropping the next two.
In addition to working with a new trainer, Kevin Johnson, Hand also has a new coach. Karibi Dede, a former Auburn player and grad assistant, plans to play Hand more outside this season, where he is likely to play in college, and not as much on the interior of the line.
Hand considers Dede, 29, quite the resource. He played on two state championship teams at Hylton, went to prep school, earned a scholarship to Auburn where he played linebacker and safety, coached high school ball and earned his doctorate in higher education.
“He’s a great person to be around,” Hand said, “very influential to younger people. He can relate to us. He’s been through it all. When you find a person like that who can answer all of your questions through experience, you know you have someone special.”
And what factor might that final recruiting decision come down to for Hand, who says he has no timetable for making his choice.
“Basically, you just have to go with instinct,” he said. “Keep doing research. Keep up with everything. Right now it’s just having fun. I’ve got the entire year to worry about decisions.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 4.7
With the technicals and regular fouls, Charlotte attempted 11 free throws in those final five seconds. “You couldn’t make that up if you want to make a movie out of that one,” Charlotte Coach Alan Major said.
The game, played at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, featured two former Washington Catholic Athletic Conference players, Richmond junior guard Cedrick Lindsay (Gonzaga) and Charlotte senior forward Chris Braswell (DeMatha). Lindsay, a 2010 All-Met, led the Spiders with 19 points and Braswell scored 12 off the bench for Charlotte. Lindsay scored with 38 seconds left and made two foul shots with 5.9 seconds left.
–No. 5 Eleanor Roosevelt and No. 9 Magruder won Maryland 4A boys’ semifinals at the University of Maryland’s Comcast Center on Thursday night to advance to Saturday’s final, a repeat of last year’s championship, won by Magruder. Eleanor Roosevelt used a 19-3 run to top No. 4 North Point, 61-58. Magruder topped Baltimore Polytechnic, 62-50.
*Three local girls’ standouts were named Gatorade players of the year.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY:
Calvert vs. Wicomico in the Maryland 2A semifinals at Comcast Center, 9 p.m. After winning at unbeaten Oakland Mills in the 2A South final, Calvert is in the semis for the first time since 1997.