In his 16 years as head basketball coach at De La Salle, Tom White never has experienced anything like this. Ten to 15 college coaches visit every day. He recently had 400 messages on his cell phone. His tiny office is filled with mail from every college he ever heard of and some he hasn't.
"A lot of people want to be friends of our program," White said. "It's a busy time. I can't keep up with it. Nobody cared when we practiced before. Now coaches come every day."
That's what the presence of four Division I recruits can do for a program. Seniors Mike Shaw and Dre Henley and sophomores Alex Foster and Jaylon Tate are being recruited by colleges from coast to coast, from Boise State to West Virginia, from the Big 10 to the Big East.
Shaw, a 6-8, 235-pound forward, has narrowed his choice to Illinois, DePaul, Marquette or West Virginia. He took an unofficial visit to Texas but said it was too far. Illini coach Bruce Weber saw his first game on the varsity as a freshman. West Virginia coach Bob Huggins became a factor during the summer.
"It isn't a priority for him to commit before the November signing period," White said. "He wants to get it right. He wants to go some place where he can play for four years. He's looking for a family atmosphere."
Shaw's "family" will help him make his decision--White, grandfather and guardian Bill Shaw, AAU coach Mike Irvin and his stepbrother, Ivan. "All are sounding boards. He picks our brains," White said.
White describes Shaw as an unselfish, scrappy player who has a John Havlicek mentality and "will do the dirty work, rebound, play defense, get assists and score when he has a chance. He doesn't have to be the star. He doesn't think about scoring 20 points a game."
Henley, a 6-7, 240-pounder who is being recruited by some schools as a shooting guard, started as a sophomore at De La Salle, transferred to a prep school in Carbondale last year, then returned this year. He has offers from Boise State, Indiana State and Miami, Ohio, but figures to re-establish himself as one of the leading prospects in the state in the class of 2011.
"He lost a lot of ground," White said. "I recommend that he doesn't commit until next spring. He has a lot to prove and more schools will offer as they get a chance to see him. I think he'll average 24 points per game this season. Opponents won't be able to double and triple team on Shaw when Henley's around."
The 6-8 Foster will join Shaw and Henley on the front line and Tate, a 6-4 point guard, will direct the offense. They will have plenty of opportunities to impress evaluators in the next three years as mail continues to fill White's office.
"It's nice to hear from college coaches every week. I get better as a coach from it," White said. "I have been prepared for this by people I worked with...John Bonk, Ken Redfield, Jim Harrington, Jerry Tokars and Mike Bailey. They groomed me. Now all I need is a bigger office."