The month of July brings great pressure for each prospect on the AAU circuit. Each possession feels like life or death, as college coaches watch closely during the open evaluation period.
Dakota Mathias remembers that feeling from last summer, when he was a rising junior with no offers. One year later, he’s a verbal pledge to Purdue’s 2014 class.
“It’s good to have it out of the way,” said Mathias. “You can just focus on the game. It takes a lot of the pressure off of your shoulders.”
Back in May, Mathias made his commitment to Purdue official, deciding along a car ride home from an AAU tournament in Fort Wayne. He realized it wasn’t worth waiting any longer.
Mathias discussed the decision with his family—making sure everyone was on board—then he got to work on the phones.
“It was pretty epic at first, calling everybody and letting the other coaches know,” Mathias recalled. “After it all calmed down, it was exciting for me and my family. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Since Mathias pledged to Purdue, there have been no hesitations. He speaks by phone with Purdue coaches several times per week and believes in the direction of the program.
“I feel really solid about the decision,” Mathias said. “I’m excited to get down there.”
However, Mathias remains the Boilermakers’ only commitment for their 2014 recruiting class. He hopes to change that.
Mathias recently met Vince Edwards—the three-star forward who’s one of Purdue’s top targets—who he will be playing with on an Ohio all-star circuit. The two had some familiarity with each other but had never met until then. Mathias, while ever so casual, gave Edwards a recruiting pitch to join him at Purdue.
“He really enjoys the process, so we’ll just see,” Mathias said of Edwards. “He’s leaning toward Purdue in my feeling.”
Mathias didn’t want to overwhelm Edwards with his Purdue pitch, so he kept the message simple.
“It was a great fit for me and I feel it will be for him,” Mathias said. “I don’t know what more you can look for in a place.”
With his decision made and recruitment over, Mathias can keep his focus on winning basketball games. He hopes to up the reputation of his AAU program.
“We’ve got some other kids looking at Division I schools,” he said. “I want to get our program back in the national spotlight. We’re not [sponsored by] Nike or Adidas, but we’ve caught the eyes of some people. If we can beat some teams, good for us.”
With his future at Purdue set, that’s all Mathias has to worry about this July.