Last summer on the AAU circuit, Spring Grove's Eli Brooks started earning real interest from high-major NCAA Division I college programs.
At the time, most of Brooks' best offers were from mid-major programs. During the AAU season in the spring and summer after his junior year, however, big names such as Kansas State, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Villanova and Michigan came calling. Brooks ultimately settled on the Wolverines. He'll be a freshman at Michigan this coming season.
One year later, more York County high school standouts are garnering the same attention from college programs, especially over the past few days.
On Monday alone, recent York Catholic grad Melik Martin picked up three D-I offers, rising Northeastern senior Antonio Rizzuto picked up one and rising Kennard-Dale senior Adam Freese made an unofficial visit to D-II Millersville University, which offered him last month.
Big day for Martin: Based on the sheer number of offers, it's easy to see that Martin had the biggest day out of the bunch. Albany, Gardner Webb and Lafayette all extended D-I offers to the 6-foot, 7-inch forward from the Fighting Irish.
However, it was an even bigger deal for him because it was only a few months ago that Martin had no D-I interest and was set on attending D-II Lincoln University this fall.
Shortly after the York Catholic season ended, however, Martin picked up his first D-I offer from Duquesne University in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Still, with just one D-I offer, Martin chose the prep school route for next year, where he'll play for Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut.
Now, when Martin begins school next year at Putnam, he'll have a number of colleges interested in him, with more expected to be added when he plays at a higher level.
"Thank God," Martin said about his reaction to the three schools offering him. "There was a lot of hard work put into this. A lot of support from family, friends and various different coaches. ... It's comforting to know that I've put in enough work."
Martin now holds four D-I offers as he gets set to leave for prep school next month. He said he'll start taking official visits in August before the school year at Putnam begins.
Martin led the Irish with a 16.5 points-per-game average last season, helping the team win the York-Adams Division III title and make the PIAA Class 3-A state tournament.
The interest from Albany has some personal connections for Martin. The first member of the Albany coaching staff to scout and recruit Martin was associate head coach Jon Iati, a York Catholic grad himself.
"He wasn't recruiting me when I was playing for York Catholic," Martin said. "This all came from the summer and part of the spring. But, he recruited me and then coach (Will) Brown saw me this weekend (at Hoop Group) and once they both did, they decided that they wanted to offer me."
All three players — Martin, Rizzuto and Freese — play for the York Ballers AAU program, and Martin and Rizzuto just took part in the Hoop Group Elite Session 1 camp at Albright College.
Rizzuto now has 10 offers: Rizzuto, meanwhile, added to his growing list of D-I schools interested in him with an offer from Robert Morris on Monday.
The offer was the ninth that the 6-foot, 3-inch Rizzuto has received. He's also received ones from Loyola (Maryland), Albany, Columbia, Stony Brook, High Point, Boston University, New Jersey Institute of Technology and Mount St. Mary's.
Rizzuto was then offered by Wagner on Tuesday, bringing his total up to 10.
"It was a good feeling," Rizzuto said about getting the offer from Robert Morris. "I didn't know they were very interested until after this week at camp. I had a good week at camp and their coach called me last night and offered me a scholarship."
Like Martin, Rizzuto also has a connection to Albany. Iati is his first cousin. Albany was the first school to offer Rizzuto last summer.
"I remember telling him one day that I wanted to play Division I and he didn't laugh, but just said, 'OK, we'll see what we can do,'" Rizzuto said. "Then, he came to see me play for the first time last summer at the exact same camp I was at this past week and he loved it and he offered me a scholarship. ... It's good for him because the head coach got to see me play and it's a compliment to (Iati) because I played pretty well and it doesn't matter that I'm his cousin, they see me as any other recruit."
Rizzuto is coming off a junior season in which he averaged 19.0 points per game, helping the Bobcats to the Y-A D-I and league tournament titles, a District 3 5-A gold medal and a run to the state semifinals.
Rizzuto said he's already visited most of the schools that have shown interest in him and he's planning on playing out the remainder of the month and then reassessing his options.
Freese visits Millersville: Freese isn't generating the D-I interest that some of his AAU teammates are, but he's still on the right path to getting a chance to play college ball.
After being offered by D-II Millersville in June, Freese took an unofficial visit to the school on Monday.
So far, the 6-foot, 5-inch Freese has received two D-II offers — Millersville and Stonehill College (Massachusetts).
Freese led the Rams in scoring as a junior, putting up 18.2 points per game, good for sixth in the Y-A League.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org