Blue-chip basketball prospect Josh Boone has decided to play college basketball close to home.
The 6-foot-9, 225-pounder from Mt. Airy, Md., has committed orally to Connecticut over Kansas, Virginia, Rutgers, St. Joseph's and Georgetown.
Boone's actual news conference is slated for today, but it's just a formality with coaches from the other schools on the list having been told UConn is the choice of the West Nottingham Academy power forward.
"That kid didn't want to go far from home. He is very close with his family. It worked against Kansas. If Kansas was on the East Coast he'd probably pick Kansas," recruiting analyst Mike Sullivan of rivalshoops.com said.
Boone averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks a game his senior year at South Carroll High in Sykesville, Md. Lightly recruited in high school, Boone decided to attend prep school a year to see if he could land some major-college offers.
That's exactly what happened after his breakout summer.
"He has a good, balanced game. He has a soft touch and plays hard," Sullivan said. "He came on real strong at the end of the summer. In Kansas' case they are not hurting because they lost on Josh Boone. That's not a knock on Josh. He's a good player. Will he be a major impact player right away? I'm not sure of that."
Boone joined a short list of players from the East recruited by KU coach Roy Williams, who in the past has sought Felipe Lopez and Terry Brown, but not many others.
Williams explained his geographic recruiting philosophy recently to his continuing education students at the Lied Center.
"It's hard for us to go East. They (Easterners) still think Kansas is flat wheatfields and cornfields," KU's coach said. "In going East you have to fly over the Atlantic Ten, Conference USA, ACC, Big East. There are too many choices there. We very seldom go East."
KU has had much better luck out West, including this recruiting season in which the Jayhawks have received oral commitments from David Padgett, 6-11, Reno, Nev., and Omar Wilkes, 6-4, Los Angeles. KU also has commitments from Oklahoma guards J.R. Giddens and Jeremy Case.
"In the West there is UCLA, Arizona, Stanford, throw a couple other schools in there if you want to," Williams said of competitors. "There are not many schools you have to fly over in going West."
He told his audience that the idea KU can pick and choose recruits because of the school's great tradition is incorrect.
"The first year I was here we went in 19 homes. One player knew where Wilt Chamberlain went to school and that was Adonis (Jordan, who committed to KU). He didn't really know but said, 'Coach I bet it's Kansas or you wouldn't have asked me that.'
"If we can get kids here on campus, then tradition does help. Getting them here to see the people in Allen Fieldhouse, the way they support us, that helps. The tradition they know nothing about. They don't even know where Julius Erving played.
"I played golf in North Carolina seven years ago with Michael Jordan, Julius Erving, coach (Dean) Smith and Jerry West. A kid walked past coach Smith, past Jerry West, past Julius Erving, asked Michael Jordan for his autograph and then took off. I was shocked at that."
Analyst Sullivan agrees it's difficult, but not impossible for the Jayhawks to recruit the East.
"Kansas is a big name here. Kids here know Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, Michigan, Duke, North Carolina for certain. I think Roy Williams picks and chooses which kids are the right fit and probably will continue to do so. I understand his West coast philosophy. It's addition by subtraction so to speak," he added.
KU still has one scholarship to give in recruiting. Brian Butch, 6-11 from Appleton, Wis., is expected to choose either KU, Wisconsin, North Carolina or Marquette sometime next week.