Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
The ball will be in the University of Oregon's court this weekend as South Medford senior E.J. Singler likely makes his final recruiting trip before national basketball signing day on Nov. 12.
Singler paid a visit to Stanford University on Sept. 20 and liked what he saw in potentially becoming part of head coach Johnny Dawkins' first true class of recruits. Dawkins came west this past summer from Duke.
Between the Stanford and Oregon visits, the 6-foot-6, 205-pound standout was destined to make a third recruiting trip to Washington State until the Cougars surprisingly asked him not to come.
The school previously had offered him a scholarship over the summer, but his role as a wide receiver and safety for South Medford's third-ranked football team kept Singler from seriously considering offers until the season was under way.
Singler's former teammate, 6-3 guard Michael Harthun, is expected to be a key freshman contributor for Washington State this season.
"They were in the picture, but when they heard Oregon offered me (a scholarship), I think they kinda got scared and thought he's not going to come to Wazzu so they offered another kid," Singler said after Friday's Black and Blue Bowl football victory over North Medford.
"I was going to go up and take a visit, but they called me that Tuesday before I was going to go and said sorry but we offered this other kid," added Singler of the Cougars. "It was all kind of a shock. I wanted to take a visit; it's not like I wasn't looking at them."
That "other kid" is 6-8 power forward David Chadwick of Charlotte, N.C. He is the son of David Chadwick Sr., who played for Dean Smith at North Carolina from 1969-71 and later became a pastor. The elder Chadwick presided over the wedding of current Washington State coach Tony Bennett when Bennett was playing for the old Charlotte Hornets NBA team.
Among Chadwick's other suitors were George Mason, College of Charleston and Tulane. Like Singler, he is labeled a three-star recruit by Rivals.com but is further down the Scout.com recruit list (Singler, at three stars, is ranked 23rd among small forwards, and Chadwick, a two-star recruit, is unranked among power forwards).
Singler has nothing against Chadwick and only wishes the best to Harthun. He said he's just trying to look at the bright side over the turn of events.
"It's making my decision easier," said Singler, who was a second-team all-state selection last year. "It narrows it down, so that's not bad."
As with any Stanford recruit, Singler must wait to learn whether he's been granted admission into the prestigious university. In the meantime, he's excited about the prospects of heading to Eugene and talking with Ducks coach Ernie Kent and his players and assistant coaches.
"They've got a good program," said Singler, who averaged 21 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals during Southwest Conference play last year.
The Ducks are in rebuilding mode after losing five seniors off last year's team, with eight freshmen on the current roster. Singler has played with and against at least one of those freshmen in former Sunset star point guard Garrett Sim, and is familiar with playing at McArthur Court after helping the Panthers to the Class 6A state tournament in each of his three varsity seasons thus far.
Also adding to the familiarity for Singler is the presence of Josh Jamieson as director of basketball operations at Oregon. Jamieson was an assistant coach under Dennis Murphy at South Medford when the Panthers won the state championship in 2007 and has a long relationship with E.J. Singler and older brother Kyle Singler, who was last year's ACC freshman of the year at Duke.
"It's looking more like Oregon right now, but I'm going to take my visit and make my decision sometime after that," said E.J. Singler who, like his older brother, has drawn raves for his all-around play and ability to play and defend multiple positions. "I might make it when I'm up there, who knows. We'll just have to wait and see."
Whatever the choice, it's likely E.J. Singler is winding up his playing days on the football field.
"I'm probably going to stick with basketball," said Singler, who was a first-team pick on offense and defense in the SWC last year. "But, who knows, if that doesn't work out or anything or the coaches want me on the football field, then, hey, I'll play."
Singler said it's also very possible that he might delay signing with a college until after he has completed the basketball season to give him more time to make sure of his decision.
Last year, Sim and Oregon City standout Brad Tinsley each signed in November with California and Pepperdine, respectively, only to see their respective head coaches fired during the season. The duo later had to work through getting released from their scholarships and then re-opened their recruitment, with Sim turning to Oregon and Tinsley settling on Vanderbilt.
THE END RESULT FOR PROSPECT wasn't nearly as important as the experience the football team enjoyed during their recent trip to Compton, Calif.
Playing in a completely different environment and miles away from anything that seemed familiar, Prospect dropped a 48-14 eight-man football contest against Hope Centre Academy on Saturday.
And while the game may not have gone the Cougars' way, head coach Kirk Mickelsen said the trip in itself was completely worth it for his team.
"From a cultural experience, it's been an amazing trip for our kids," Mickelsen said on Saturday.
The team enjoyed a Class 6A high school football game in the Los Angeles area on Friday night and, following Saturday's game, was treated to the Fresno State-Idaho college contest in which the host Bulldogs won 45-32.
In between, the sights and sounds were almost nothing like what the Prospect players are used to on a daily basis.
The game also proved a little different, with California eight-man football played on an 80-yard field and not the 100-yard setup that's customary in Oregon.
"That was very different for our kids so the adjustment for that was different for us," said Mickelsen. "They've got some heckuva talent and speed that we just don't see, too. I was proud of how well we did play against the talent that we saw out there."
Randy Hamm scored on a 60-yard run and added a two-point conversion after Hunter Gallagher's 1-yard run for the Cougars, who trailed 36-6 at halftime.
Off the field, Mickelsen said it was a win-win situation for both teams.
"They were great hosts and it was a great game and I think they're looking forward to coming up here next year and seeing what it's like here," added the first-year coach.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org