R.C. Hatch hoops star gains college interest
UNIONTOWN -- He may be the best-kept secret in west Alabama, but Frankie Sullivan wants recognition on a larger level.
The R.C. Hatch High star, preparing for his final season with the Bobcats, may accomplish that with a trip to Ohio next weekend.
Sullivan is among a half-dozen basketball stars from this state who balance summer camps and recruiting interest as they prepare for their final year in high school. They enjoyed some piece and quiet recently while colleges were in a "quiet period" for recruiting which forbids any personal contact. But the recruiting wars will continue to heat up as college coaches vie for a signature on a letter of intent during early signing period that starts Nov. 14.
"I'm just leaving it open," Sullivan said. "Every day a different school calls me that I have interest in. I'm going to narrow it down. I'll know by the end of the summer."
Currently, he has interest from Alabama, Auburn, North Carolina, Florida, Ole Miss, Miami, Georgetown, Arkansas, Tennessee and UAB, among others.
In today's high-tech world of recruiting, much of Sullivan's contact with college recruiters comes via text messaging on his cell phone. An NCAA rule banning text messages beginning Aug. 1 is on hold now as the NCAA office received enough override requests to review the decision at its Aug. 9 meeting.
"I really can't sleep at this point. They call all times of the night and text all times of the night," Sullivan said. "That's how I wake up in the morning now, from people texting me."
Even Sullivan's coach, Homer Davis admits that it's getting hectic.
"He's getting a lot of calls," Davis said.
Sullivan dazzled media and basketball fans with his scoring barrage in the state playoffs this past season, emerging in a group that includes St. Jude forward JaMychal Green, John Carroll guard Andrew Steele and Northview center Xavier Gibson as the cream of the crop in this year's recruiting class.
"I think we're in a better cycle," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "Alabama, just from sheer population, doesn't have the number of high level Southeastern Conference players that other states do. But we normally have three or four guys that are high, high level type players and I think we have a couple of (upcoming) years where we have some terrific young players in our state."
Green has made Alabama's recruiting radar the last three years and Steele, the younger brother of Tide star Ronald Steele, is an obvious choice. Sullivan, a bit small (6-foot-1, 165 pounds) by major college standards, likely will be converted from shooting guard to point guard in college, a move Davis made at times last season in an attempt to help Sullivan gain more exposure and to keep opponents from limiting his touches.
R.C. Hatch won its second consecutive Class 2A championship last season -- and fourth in the last five years -- as Sullivan averaged 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists. In four regional and state finals games, Sullivan averaged 26.8 points, scoring 33 in the championship win over Barbour County.
"He shows great leadership ability," Davis said. "Frank has won four state championships and has a chance to win five. He's in a great position."
Sullivan and other highly recruited basketball stars can also benefit from subtle changes made in summer camps this year. Nike, which once featured national showcases that demonstrated a lot of one-on-one ability in scrimmages, will now use its big-name athletes to teach skill development with the campers.
The most prestigious of these camps, the LeBron James U.S. Skills Academy in Akron, Ohio on Friday through July 9, will include Sullivan among its campers.
That could help boost his name to the top of this state's high school seniors.
"I'd say (this year's recruiting class in this state) is better than some," said Alabama assistant coach Philip Pearson, a Montgomery native who played at Alabama and now has recruited the state for the last 14 years as an assistant with three different programs. "As a rule, our state probably has two or three SEC-level players. I think this year we've got a chance to be a little deeper than that."
Sullivan recently participated in a summer camp at R.C. Hatch featuring famous alumnus Erwin Dudley, a former Bobcat and Crimson Tide star who was the SEC Player of the Year in 2002. That may give the Tide a slight edge in the race for Sullivan's talents.
"Erwin went there, was the SEC Player of the Year and got his degree, so we've got a pipeline there," Davis said. "We used to go up there and watch him play a lot. We took busloads up there. And Frankie was on those busses."