July 16, 2008

ASU offers Stover

La Canada (Calif.) Renaissance Academy center Anthony Stover is quickly becoming one of the most coveted post prospects in the 2009 class after his strong player during the first July evaluation period led to scholarship offers from Arizona State and UCLA on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 center has long been known as a big time defensive presence -- he used his 7-foot-5 wingspan to block a nation-best nine shots per game as a junior -- but he's beginning to show signs of real improvement at the offensive end, and it's a development that has helped his recruitment take off.

ASU, Connecticut, Gonzaga, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Washington State have reportedly offered scholarships to Stover, the No. 117 overall player and No. 14 center in 2009 by Rivals.com.

The two most recent offers, from the Sun Devils and Bruins made quite an impression.

"I was very happy and excited to hear that both head coaches offered me a scholarship," Stover said. "I talked to both and they both were excited with how I played at 3 Stripes and West Coast All-Star Camp.

"Coach Sendek let me know they were very excited to have an offer for me to ASU and he would like me to take another visit there and make it an official in September. They were very excited. I had such a fun time when I visited there unofficially last year and an official visit can only be better.

"With UCLA, coach Howland basically said they have a scholarship and to call him later today to talk. Hearing that you have an offer from a school like that, it's a great feeling. It lets me know all the hard work and extra hours I've put in at the gym and with everything else has been worth it."

Stover and his father Craig have plans to unofficial visit Arizona, Boston College, Connecticut, Gonzaga and Washington in August, with a goal of cutting the list of schools under consideration to five heading into official visit season.

"We were shocked Anthony got the offers from ASU and UCLA and had these unofficial visits planned before that," Craig Stover said. "We've tried to teach Anthony that hard work pays off. He's made a tremendous commitment in the gym. We're at 24 Hour Fitness year-round for an hour every morning before school. Robert Icart's BTI (Basketball Training Institute) has been instrumental for Anthony in terms of training and getting him ready.

"The plan was just to play hard in the spring and summer, visit some additional schools and assess the Top-5 after that," Craig Stover said. "Anthony played great at the West Coast All-Star Camp and 3 Stripes. He had a great tournament in Cincinnati. We're very proud and happy of how he is progressing. Adidas came in and he was able to go to Germany, where played National ball. He was in France two weeks ago, where they lost the gold medal game by two. Those experiences have paid major dividends."

The elder Stover said he and his son thoroughly enjoyed their visit to ASU last year and plan to be back in the near future for an official visit.

"ASU was one of the very first programs to show a lot of interest and that means a great deal to us," Craig said. "Went out there to a football game and it was totally first-class. I like Lisa Love and the whole direction of the athletic program there. The academics part of it was really big as well. Corinne (Corte, Student-Athlete Development Manager) was wonderful . Me and my wife, we're all about sending our kids to go get a degree. Education is first and foremost. If anything happens beyond that, God be the glory on that. That's what we're looking for. We want to get a piece of paper."

At Renaissance, Stover's team had several scorers last year and his focus was on the defensive end, where he blocked an unheard of 265 shots. At the Stover household, there are regular film sessions to study legendary former NBA great Bill Russell.

"My favorite thing to do in basketball is help defense and blocking shots," Stover said. "A lot of it is natural instincts. Sometimes you want to make a statement and put the ball out of bounds but I usually like to tip it to myself when possible and keep it in play. On the offensive end, everything is coming together for me. I'm making plays on the basket and being more aggressive and I feel good about some of the progress I've made and will keep working hard to make sure it continues.

"It is really good to see coaches notice [the development] and things are going really good. I don't really have a top five. I'm waiting for the rest of July to play out and then come up with who I want to visit officially.

"I want to major in business and [specifically] economics. I would like to have thousands of people in the gym when the team is playing and go to a school that has great support on and off the court. I'd like a place I can come in and win. I just want to get a good education and help my team win."

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