The welcome mat is out at the Don MacLean household in Simi Valley, where some of the biggest names in college basketball will be passing through in the next three weeks in pursuit of the Valley-area's top prospect.
The guest list for Simi Valley High's 6-10 center includes North Carolina's Dean Smith, Kentucky's Eddie Sutton, UCLA's Walt Hazzard and Jerry Tarkanian of Nevada-Las Vegas. MacLean has narrowed his choices to 10 schools and the visits begin Sunday with Georgia Tech's Bobby Cremins. MacLean also will receive visits from representatives for Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Duke, Arizona and Pepperdine.
The period when coaches may visit the homes of high school seniors began Thursday and runs through Oct. 7. The early signing period is from Nov. 11 to Nov. 18.
But those coaches from the nation's best basketball programs will spend little time in the Valley area this fall because the list of top prospects is a short one. Cleveland's Richard Branham, a 6-4 forward whose scheduled visits include Cal, Stanford, Washington State and Loyola, is the only other player who may sign early.
"The Valley is not a great basketball area for top Division I kids and this is a down year," said Don Mead, who runs a prominent West Coast scouting service.
Among those who have drawn some interest are Simi Valley's Shawn DeLaittre, Taft's Tony Moten, Westlake's Kevin Logan and Jon Drezner of Calabasas. DeLaittre, a 6-5 forward who may be moved to the backcourt this season, will receive visits from Colorado State, Northern Arizona, Pacific, Fullerton, Loyola and Santa Barbara.
Moten, a 6-4 forward, is expected to pick up much of the scoring slack left by Kevin Franklin, who is attending Nevada-Reno. A representative for St. Mary's will visit Moten.
Weber State's Larry Farmer, the former UCLA coach, will visit Logan, who has grown to 6-7, and Drezner, a 6-3 guard, who also will meet with the San Jose State coaching staff.
The early signing period likely will pass without involving the Valley's best shooting guards--Cleveland's Michael Gray and Damon Greer, Simi Valley's Butch Hawking and Hart's Steve Valenzuela--whose stock may increase with the inception of the 3-point rule, which makes its Los Angeles-area debut this season.
All of which puts MacLean at center stage, but he seems unexcited by the prospect.
"I'm not that excited because I've talked to all the coaches on the phone and I know them already," he said. "I'm just looking at this as a way to help me make a decision. I feel I'm well-prepared. If you're star struck, if you believe everything they say, you can get misled. Not that they lie, but they can twist words a little."
MacLean feels no pressure to sign early.
"If I feel right and comfortable in a situation, I may sign, but if I feel pressured I'll just wait," he said.