By Joe Henricksen
You know when you're out shopping, going through the sales rack with all the great deals but the options are always in sizes way too small or way too big? Then as you sift through them all, you find it! Stuck in between is the bargain of the year and just the right size.
Well, there will be one college program that is going to get one heck of a deal this spring if it can land Marshall's Milton Doyle. That's because you just don't typically find a talent this late in the recruiting game like Doyle, who has tremendous upside and untapped potential.
The slender 6-4 senior is now open and looking for a college destination after the firing of coach Isiah Thomas at Florida International. Doyle's commitment to FIU was arguably the biggest Division I recruiting steal out of Illinois in the Class of 2012. Now he's back on the open market.
"We are starting over," says Doyle's mother, Lisa Green. "We are open and looking for a school for him."
Doyle is the ultimate sleeper, an underrated talent who fits the cliché "his best basketball is ahead of him" perfectly. It's true. Doyle is just scratching the surface. He's long, wiry, active, extremely athletic and his skill level has improved the more he plays. The slashing guard averaged 19 points, 7 rebounds and nearly 5 assists a game for Marshall coach Henry Cotton this past season. Doyle was terrific in the Chicago Public League All-Star game Saturday night, scoring 20 points in every way imaginable.
The career of Doyle has been unorthodox. He transferred to Marshall from little-known Tilden following his sophomore year. Then before he could showcase his abilities in the Red-West, Doyle broke his wrist and missed his entire junior year. He did open some eyes last summer with his play at the Reebok Headliner tryout camp in Chicago and then the Reebok Breakout Challenge in Philadelphia, but he didn't play on the club circuit in July to instead concentrate on academics.
Thus, Doyle remained a rather unknown. Florida International snuck in and nabbed a commitment from Doyle last fall before the kid's talent blew the top off and he became a hot commodity. Now he's among the top eight prospects in the Hoops Report's Class of 2012 player rankings and an ideal prospect for a mid-major or mid-major plus program.
"We want to find a coach and program that is going to teach him the game and that wants him and sees him playing the 1 or the 2," says Green of what Milton will be looking for. "We have to find the right spot for him. He transferred in high school, so we don't want to have to do that again in college. Milton is really quiet, so we have to really build a relationship and trust the coach. That's going to be important."
Doyle may be reserved and quiet off the floor, but his play has spoke volumes the past eight months. He's a quick leaper who showcases his superior athleticism when getting to the rim on drives and in transition. He's shooting the basketball better than he ever has and is becoming more comfortable with the ball in his hands after finally playing extensively.
"The one thing I learned coaching him this year was that when he wants to score, when he really wants to score, he's going to score," says Cotton, whose team won 3A regional and sectional titles this past March. "He will find a way. He will get to the rim. He will knock down mid-range shots, pull up, go get a teammate's miss and put back an offensive rebound.
"He's an exciting talent, a natural player who does things you can't teach. What I'm looking forward to seeing is what he becomes when a college program develops his body."
Now some college program will have that chance.
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