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Pryor will make decision this week

March 15, 2008
By Philip Cmor, pcmor@altoonamirror.com



UNIVERSITY PARK — During warmups for Saturday afternoon’s PIAA Class AA boys basketball championship game, 13-year-old Garrett Carr of Wellsboro walked up courtside at the Bryce Jordan Center with a camera phone and one thing in mind.

To get a close-up photo of Terrelle Pryor.

‘‘I have a lot of Terrelle Pryor memorabilia. I’ve followed him since his junior year. I live a ways away from him, but I try to listen to as many games as I can,’’ Carr said. ‘‘I hope he goes to Penn State. He’s probably the best athlete Penn State’s recruited in awhile.

‘‘We’re here for all the games this weekend, but mainly for this.’’

Carr wasn’t the only one. A crowd of more than 6,000 filled the BJC to see Pryor’s Jeannette team defeat Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion, 76-72, in overtime.

Such is the captivation Pryor, only 5 years older than Carr, has on so many in the state, even the nation.

They came to see Pryor at Penn State. But Pryor didn’t come to see Penn State. And, judging from his postgame comments, he probably won’t, at least for an official visit.

‘‘I’ll be deciding next week. Next week, I’m going to say the school I’m going to, sign it, and get it over with,’’ Pryor told a huge throng of reporters. ‘‘I don’t know yet [if I’ll take any other visits]. I’ll probably be done.’’

He later clarified that he expects to announce this coming week where he’ll play his college football. That makes it unlikely any other officials visits will be scheduled.

Pryor’s recruitment has caused a buzz like no other since he revealed at the press conference intended to be for his signing that he wasn’t going to sign yet. A 6-foot-6 quarterback compared to Vince Young, Pryor continued to look at Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Oregon — he had already taken official visits to the first two of those schools, but wanted to set up visits to the latter two.

Pryor also offered another revelation Saturday afternoon.

‘‘It’s down to two schools,’’ Pryor said. ‘‘I can’t tell you which two.’’

Pryor didn’t want to get into too many specifics when talking about Penn State. He mentioned that he looks at the environment as ‘‘country’’ and that he felt comfortable with his knowledge of the program through his numerous unofficial visits over the years.

Pryor was asked if he had any regrets about his handling of his recruitment.

‘‘I think I should have looked into the schools a little earlier,’’ Pryor said. ‘‘You get to know the coaches. It’s hard to tell them ’no.’’’

Jeannette's run in the basketball playoffs made the wait longer and the anticipation grow. With WPIAL playoff games, followed by state playoff games every Wednesday and Saturday, it didn't give Pryor much of a window to try to schedule the visits to Penn State and Oregon, even though his basketball coach would have allowed it.

‘‘It is what it is,’’ added Jeannette basketball coach Jim Nesser. ‘‘I want him to experience everything he has to experience.

‘‘He had the right to do whatever he wanted to do. He earned that right. He made a commitment to this basketball team.’’

The delay, the speculation and Pryor’s immense ability have only served to make his recruiting saga that much more a spectacle.

‘‘It’s been fun,’’ said Jeannette principal Stuart Albaugh, who formerly served in the same capacity at Bishop Guilfoyle.

According to Pryor, the attention just comes with the territory.

‘‘Sometimes it gets annoying, but it’s something you have to live [with] if you’re going to be a great talent,’’ Pryor said.

Teammate Jordan Hall said Pryor was largely unfazed during the basketball playoffs.

‘‘It don’t really do nothing to us,’’ Hall, a junior who himself is being recruited by Division I colleges, said. ‘‘He puts it off when we play basketball. There’s no real distraction when we play.’’

Although he originally committed to Pitt for basketball his sophomore year, Pryor said basketball will have no impact on his decision. He is considered the likely player of the year in Class AA.

In the game itself, Pryor began to heat up after he had a dunk attempt blocked and Jayhawks coach Jim Nesser called a timeout. Immediately, Pryor drove to the elbow and dished to Jordan Hall in the corner for a wide-open 3-pointer that pulled Jeannette to within four, 9-5.

That was followed by one steal, then another. Then Pryor drove strong to the basket, flipped the ball off the backboard and into the hoop, drawing a foul on the way for a three-point play.

With 5:12 left in regulation, Pryor offered the exclamation point. He skied over a Strawberry Mansion defender to jam home Shaw Sunder’s missed trey, bringing the crowd to its feet and drawing oohs and aahs when it was replayed on the scoreboard.

He finished with 23 points, eight rebounds, five blocks, four steals and four assists in what probably will be his final basketball game.

Or maybe it won’t be. Ever the man of mystery, Pryor left open the possibility that his fans haven’t seen the last of him on the hardwood.

‘‘You never know,’’ Pryor said with a wry smile. ‘‘I may decide to go out and play basketball.’’

 
 

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