By MARCUS HELTON
After watching his list of suitors expand rapidly in the past year, Virginia Elite 2014 wing forward Paul Rowley (Loudoun Valley HS) had plenty of options to consider, and befitting a player with a 4.47 grade point average, he thoroughly considered each one of them.
This week, though, the 6-foot-7, 185-pounder opted for a much more straightforward approach, which resulted in a commitment to William & Mary on Wednesday morning.
“I think I was overthinking it,” Rowley said of his recruitment. “I kind of played a little game with myself: I was looking at my top schools and I said, ‘Where would I be the most upset if somebody else committed? If somebody else took my spot and I no longer had an offer to go there? I would have been really upset with myself if somebody committed to William & Mary and my spot was off the table, and I think that said a lot.”
Rowley averaged a team-high 16.6 points per game for Loudoun Valley last season to help the Vikings to the state quarterfinals, where they lost to eventual champion Brunswick. His stock rose even more during an impressive summer campaign with Thomas Gadson's Virginia Elite program and on the camp circuit.
Rowley’s list of offers also included Brown, Bucknell, George Mason, Harvard, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Loyola (Md.), Mount St. Mary’s, Quinnipiac and St. Francis (Pa.). He said he had recently whittled the list to fewer than five serious contenders, but declined to name them.
“I’m just trying to be respectful to everybody,” he said. “There’s a lot of great programs, and some other schools made this decision very, very difficult.”
In the end, though, it was The Tribe’s belief in Rowley that played a key part in his decision.
“They believed in me from the start,” he said. “Before I was kind of like, a little more well-known on the AAU basketball circuit, [Tribe assistant coach Kotie] Kimble had come down to my high school and seen a practice and seen a game. They were on it; they knew from the start and they have showed me tons of love. They recruited me harder than I thought I could be recruited.”
Rowley said he felt William & Mary was the best basketball fit as well.
“They weren’t trying to turn me into a post player; they love my versatility and the fact that I love to handle the ball and shoot from the perimeter. They want to get me shots, run me off ball screens and kind of let me play how I play now.”
Rowley isn’t in Las Vegas with Virginia Elite this week as he recovers from shin splints, and said he’s undecided on playing in any more events this summer.
“It’s relaxing,” he said of having finished the recruiting process. “I kind of have the rest of the summer to be a 16-year-old kid and hang out by the pool and relax and enjoy.”