By Joe Henricksen
Kudos to Indiana State and Illinois State, the only schools to have offered Richards big man Shaun Pratl. And shame on all the other schools that have been so slow to pull the trigger. In this day where big men are at such a premium and so often over-recruited, it's a mystery why the 6-8, 220-pounder has just the two offers.
"It's been frustrating, really frustrating," says Pratl of the recruiting. "I see these other players getting offers I feel I am better than and it's frustrating."
A big part of it is Pratl is a hot commodity both in basketball and football. He believes coaches are waiting for him to decide what sport he will choose. Pratl actually had hoped he would at least be able to choose which sport he was going to play in college by mid-summer. But he also admits he thought he would have more offers in both football and basketball by now to help him sort things out. Now he's taking a wait-and-see approach as he sorts it all out.
Right now Pratl is simply trying to get healthy. He has been in and out of the hospital trying to figure out the ailment that he's been battling for over a week. He has a tonsil abscess that has drained him physically and, as a result, he's lost 10 pounds.
As a player, though, what's not to like? Pratl is not your typical football-playing big man in basketball. He's agile, runs the floor with ease, can get off the floor and finish in transition with a dunk. If Pratl had been a 12-month basketball player, as opposed to splitting time 50/50 between two sports, there is no telling how much more advanced he would be as a player. That reason alone is why the Hoops Report thinks so highly of Pratl. You could see how far he came from December to March last season after getting off to a slow start following a long football season. By March he was a dominating big man helping his team to a Class 4A state championship. He scored 18 points on 8-of-9 from the floor in the state semifinal win and scored 16 points, blocked two shots, pulled down 8 rebounds and was a man among boys down the stretch in the state championship game win over Zion-Benton.
Pratl is a skilled power forward with a solid package of size and athleticism. He possesses a good handle for a player his size, range on his shot is improving and his frame is perfect to get bigger and stronger. He will show a mean streak from time to time, bang a little and play with an aggressive style that plays to his advantage. He can work in the high post and is getting more comfortable on the block with his back to the basket. He has to get better finishing at the rim after contact. His straight court speed is very good, while his overall foot speed lacks a little. And while he has a soft touch and can shoot out to 20 feet, he will have to get his release up higher at the collegiate level. But a lot of the nit-picking evaluating will be erased with a full commitment to basketball.
Southern Illinois, Wisconsin Green-Bay and Loyola have shown a lot of interest, while Penn State, Miami-Ohio and Marist are a few of the others that continue to keep tabs on Pratl.
"I just think about all that will come to him as a basketball player if he were playing basketball 12 months a year," says Richards coach John Chappetto. "The biggest thing would probably be his consistency from a shooting standpoint. That's an area that I think would grow the most if he was a full-time basketball player."
And I can only imagine the list of suitors will grow as well -- or should!