Coaches keep getting early commitments

Updated: October 3, 2003, 2:07 AM ET

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Jordan Eglseder is a high school sophomore who has played exactly one minute of varsity basketball.

No matter. Eglseder already knows he wants to play in college at Northern Iowa and a scholarship will be waiting when he gets there.

Of course, it always helps when you're 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds.

"You don't teach that," recruiting analyst Van Coleman said.

Eglseder is the latest in a long list of high school players who announce their college choices early, some before they're old enough to drive.

"I don't think right now age makes much difference anymore," said Bob Horner, who coaches the boys basketball team at Mason City High School and had two of his players commit early.

"Coaches are fighting to get the best kids. It probably will continue unless something happens that causes them to back off."

Horner's son, Jeff, committed to Iowa when he was a high school freshman. He started for the Hawkeyes as a freshman last season.

Another former Mason City standout, Dean Oliver, committed to Iowa in November of his sophomore year. Sophomore Ricky Davis of Davenport North announced his intention to play at Iowa the same day.

Adam Haluska was a sophomore at Carroll High School when he announced for Iowa State.

"That's a tough call. It depends on the situation," Horner said. "For Dean it worked out great and so far Jeff's had a good experience. But Dean and Jeff were kind of far beyond their years as far as skills go."

Oliver became a four-year starter at Iowa and has played a little in the NBA. Davis left Iowa after his freshman season and has been in the NBA since.

Haluska also lived up to his potential. He started as a freshman at Iowa State last season, then transferred to Iowa at the end of the school year.

"To offer this early, it usually means the staff that has seen him play believes a kid can play at their level or higher," Coleman said.

Oliver, Horner, Davis and Haluska all are good athletes who played guard or forward in high school. Coleman said it's harder to judge the potential of a taller player such as Eglseder.

"At this point, he's raw offensively," Coleman said. "The only surprise there is we don't know where he's going to be three years from now as far as his game. This could end up being a very, very big get for Northern Iowa."

Coleman noted that when Raef LaFrentz was going into his sophomore year at MFL-Mar-Mac, he was projected as a mid-major player in college. By the time he was a senior, LaFrentz was a top 10 player nationally. He starred at Kansas and has spent seven years in the NBA.

Alex Thompson, a 6-foot-10 center from Ames who has committed to Iowa, is another big man who developed as he got older.

"Two years ago, Alex Thompson wasn't a big-time player," Coleman said. "Now he's going to Iowa. He proved over the summer he rightly deserved to be at that level."

The downside of early commitments is that a young player might not develop as expected. Or the college he chose might change coaches and the player has to decide between honoring his commitment or going somewhere else. When Tim Floyd left Iowa State, Kirk Hinrich of Sioux City reneged on his commitment to the Cyclones and went to Kansas, where he became a first-round NBA draft choice.

And until a player who commits early signs his national letter of intent, other schools might try to recruit him.

Northern Iowa coach Greg McDermott saw Eglseder at the university's big man camp and team camp last summer. Eglseder showed enough to convince McDermott that he could play in the Missouri Valley Conference.

"I think they must know or they wouldn't have offered a scholarship at this point," Coleman said. "Then, if he gets to be an Iowa or Iowa State-level player, he's still going to UNI."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index