Chol’s coach throwback to when high school coaches guided recruiting processby Javier Morales on Feb. 01, 2011, under Sports
San Diego Hoover High School coach Ollie Goulston is intelligent and thorough enough to guide a touted prospect the right way in the recruiting process, not because he is an Ivy League grad, but he knows of the different elements that permeate youth basketball these days.
“My rule is there are no hangers-on allowed on the Hoover campus,” Goulston told me, bluntly, Monday night. “If that happens, the player is not on my team.”
Goulston, who played baseball at Dartmouth and later served as the San Diego Padres’ assistant director of scouting and player development from 1992-94, has taken on the responsibility of guiding his star player, Class of 2011 post player Angelo Chol, during the recruiting process.
Goulston said Chol, nor his father, who works in the meat packing business in San Diego, required him to provide help in gathering information about his primary suitors — Arizona, Washington, Alabama, Kansas and North Carolina. Goulston said he stepped in because he has two decades of experience with the scouting and recruiting phase, with the Padres and as a youth basketball coach.
“For the last 19 years I’ve been around players who have advanced to college, some to the NBA, so I am familiar with what this process is all about,” said Goulston, who coached Arizona senior Jamelle Horne at Hoover during his first season as head coach there in 2004-05, when Horne was a sophomore.
A public high school coach taking an interest in his star player’s future is somewhat of a throwback these days. Traveling-club coaches are becoming more instrumental in a player’s recruitment. Summer-time AAU tournaments have more relevance in terms of college coaches scouting top-flight competition than a high school state tournament.
That puts more influence in the hands of traveling-club coaches and others associated with them (i.e. shoe and athletic apparel representatives).
“I am very close with Angelo,” said Goulston, who toured the Arizona campus with Chol (6-9, 215) during an official visit last weekend. “This is a very important time for him. We’re in the information-gathering process. That’s where I can help.
“The only way he could make the best decision for his future is to gather all that information about every school. Some players don’t take the time to think things through and that’s why you’re seeing a lot of transfers because players are committing too early.”
The information includes not only feedback about playing time — “the better word is opportunity,” Goulston told me — but how Chol can relate to the coaching staff and players. That comfort level is paramount for Chol, who gained U.S. citizenship last June after fleeing war-torn Sudan for Egypt and then America when he was 7.
Chol, whose soft-spoken nature belies his ferocity around the hoop, needed influential people like Goulston and some of his teachers for a sense of direction while trying to acclimate himself to life in the United States. He started playing basketball when he was 12 only because the middle school coach in San Diego noticed his 6-foot-2 height at the time and asked him to try out.
“He couldn’t even make a basket,” Goulston said in a interview last month with MaxPreps.com.
Now, Chol’s strength is preventing others from making a basket, as a dominating defensive player and shot blocker — a skill Arizona’s current frontcourt players lack.
Goulston said Chol “took it all in and was mature” during his trip to Tucson this weekend.
“Every trip is different,” Goulston said. “Basically it comes down to the coaches trying to sell themselves to the young man. Arizona did a good job of showing him where he could fit in (at the post), but so have the other schools. It will be a very tough decision for him.”
Chol has also taken his official visits to Kansas, Alabama, and North Carolina. He takes one more to Washington the weekend of Feb. 12-13 before announcing his decision at Hoover High School on Feb. 17.
Chol is calculated with what he says. He never uses the word “favorite” or “leaning toward” or any other suggestive words concerning his recruitment. That straightforward demeanor comes from his association with Goulston, who has refined Chol’s raw ability as a seventh grader into a coveted major-college prospect in only five years.
“The only thing I knew how to do at first (was) the drop step,” Chol said in an interview with USA Basketball last August. “But my high school coach (Goulston) helped me get better. It was a long process, but I enjoyed it.”
Goulston, known in the San Diego area for mentoring other prospects in the past, shares the sentiment.
“Angelo is soft spoken, but there is some depth to him,” Goulston told me. “He has developed into a terrific basketball player but he is also a quality young man. He is mature enough to realize that where he is at now is not as important as where he can be in the long run.
“He has not lost sight of that and I don’t think he ever will.”