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September 14, 2011
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Thursday night, prime time, bright lights, national television cameras and a simmering in-state rivalry. The California football team's Thursday-night clash against USC will certainly be the go-to event in the Bay Area, and now, you can count at least one more pair of eyeballs that will be in the stands.
Three-star center Landen Lucas was originally scheduled to make his official visit this weekend as the Cal football team opens up AT&T Park, but instead, the Bears basketball target decided he'll postpone the visit until he can get a proper feeling for all the pomp and circumstance of collegiate athletics.
"We just figured it would be a cool environment, playing USC on ESPN and all that, and it works better. I don't have any school that day, so that's what we decided to move it to," Lucas told BearTerritory on Wednesday evening. "I'll be there Wednesday through Saturday night, so we just won't start the official until Thursday and then we'll have it end on Friday night, so I'll get four days out of it."
At the very least, Lucas will get a better feel for the Cal social scene, something he didn't get to see on his last unofficial visit. When asked what he'll be looking for primarily -- aside from the ESPN camera lenses -- Lucas laughed.
"Probably just the campus life, because last time when I was there, I didn't really get a chance to see it," he said. "It was right after finals week, so everyone was gone, and I didn't really get a chance to see what it was like being a student there. I'm really looking forward to that. I'm sure it's really going to be a great time to be there, with all of the ESPN and everything being there. I'm excited for that. I got a lot of information last time on my visit, so now, I just want to get a feel for what it'd be like to actually go there."
Lucas' family will play a big part in his college decision, so being able to have family come with him was a factor in changing the visit, as were a few aeronautical technical difficulties.
"It was scheduled for this weekend, originally, but it got changed to the Thursday night game against USC, so I'll be coming out on a Wednesday night. I think it's October 13, and I'll be staying until Saturday morning," Lucas said. "We got it changed mainly because we wanted a chance to talk and do an in-home visit with all the coaches, and [head coach Mike] Montgomery was stuck in a blackout during my first in-home, so I was only able to be with Jay John. He's going to try to get up again and talk to my family."
Montgomery and John were supposed to make their in-home visit with Lucas on Sept. 9, but Montgomery's plane from Bakersfield, Calif., to San Francisco was delayed due to a mechanical issue, so Montgomery and assistant Travis DeCuire were unable to make the connection to Portland, Ore. Montgomery and DeCure had been paying an in-home visit to Tyrone Wallace, who will also officially visit the Bears at some point in the near future.
"It was fine. I've been able to talk to him before during my unofficial with my mom," Lucas said. "My mom and I got a chance to talk with him, and hopefully, he'll be able to make it up here some time just so that we can all sit down and really talk as a family."
Because coaches are allowed three contacts until Oct. 5, Montgomery can still schedule another in-home, but the visit with John did prove enlightening, even without the skipper there.
"The thing that stuck out was just him, face-to-face, telling me how interested they are, and how interested Montgomery is in me," Lucas said. "The one thing that he said that I really liked was that he said that coach Montgomery, when he was talking about me, said, 'That's somebody I can win with,' as a person, and also on the court. I guess I fit his past bigs and, the way he uses them, he could use me. That made me feel good and confident that if I made the decision to go there, that I would be used right, and used by a coach that has had bigs that have done what I've done in the past, and won with them. That really stood out to me when he said that."
Aside from Cal, Lucas will take official visits to three other schools, after naming his final seven in late July, including one surprise.
"Right now, it looks like I'll do Cal, Stanford, Tennessee and Washington," said Lucas, who did not have the Volunteers among his final contenders. "They're all the ones that are for sure. The fifth one isn't really decided right now, and I don't know if I'm going to need one or not. We're kind of leaving it open just in case a school pops out. I'm looking at some schools maybe to pop out like NC State and some other schools, but at the moment, those are the four schools that I'm sure that I'll visit."
What distinguished those four from the rest of the contenders?
"What stuck out was really the relationships I was able to build. Once I cut it down, I was really focused on those schools, and some really stepped up," Lucas said. "Cal had always been up there, all through the summer, and it's nice, because now, with unlimited calls and being able to do in-home visits and all these things that they give you because you're about to make your decision, you're able to really build a relationship with all of these schools.
"The four that I picked, I just really felt comfortable with, and now, I'm excited to go down and really check out the campus, see them practice, hopefully, and all that stuff."
The Bears will still have one official visitor this weekend in three-star power forward Grant Verhoeven out of Vislia (Calif.) Central Valley Christian. BearTerritory will speak with the son of former NBA-er Peter Verhoeven after he concludes his trip.
As for Montgomery and DeCuire's other in-home visit with Wallace, early indications are that it went well. The four-star point guard will officially visit Oregon on Oct. 6, Cal on Oct. 13 and Colorado on Oct. 21.