This long slowdown with COVID-19 has curbed the recall of regular people and five-star NCAA Division I basketball prospects alike.
Including remembering the most important remaining date in 2020 of the recruiting season – the early signing day period.
Just ask O’Dea’s Paolo Banchero, arguably the No. 1 recruit in the country in the class of 2021.
“With COVID and everything, man, I totally forgot about it,” Banchero said. “My parents were like, ‘Hey, we got your papers.'”
The 6-foot-9 forward remembered where to sign – and inked his name on the dotted line Wednesday to join the Duke University men’s basketball team starting in 2021.
“Yeah, I was a little nervous flipping through the (signing-day) papers,” Banchero said. “But I woke up, signed it – and I am official now.
“This is just another step closer to getting there.”
In the end, Banchero declared it wasn’t that difficult to decide to play college basketball at Duke over exploring the NBA’s pathway program – or other avenues of turning professional right out of high school.
“I am set on going to Duke,” Banchero said. He becomes the first Duke-bound men’s basketball talent from the state of Washington since Quin Snyder in 1985.
Irish teammate Max Debiec certainly understands all the decision-making that goes on when faced with two distinct pathways. Debiec signed with the Washington Huskies for baseball on Wednesday, but also faces another choice next spring – the 2021 MLB Draft.
The 6-foot-7 senior improved his stock so much this summer as a right-handed pitcher, he very well could be taken in the first round of the MLB Draft.
“I have two great options, and both ways can go right,” Debiec said. “I am excited to see where it goes.
“We’ve talked about (being professional athletes). We are humbled … and don’t get too amped up about it. But we both know we have really big hopes, and success on the line.”
What is next for Banchero?
He said Wednesday if the WIAA basketball season started up next month or sometime in January, he would be all in to play as a senior.
If not? “I will have to see,” he said.
Banchero said the plan right now is to leave for Duke right after graduation in June.
In the meantime, he was able to savor another benchmark moment Wednesday, surrounded by his family at the ceremony in the O’Dea gymnasium.
“This has always been a goal of mine to play (NCAA) Division I basketball. I didn’t know it would be this high of a level,” Banchero said. “But they are proud of me, and I am thankful for them.”