BLAIRSTOWN, N.J. -- Charlie Villanueva, the talented 6-9 power/combo forward from Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J., sat down with Rivalshoops.com on Monday night for a lengthy Q&A session.
Widely considered among the top five prospects in the Class of 2003, Villanueva is slated to make his announcement on a college next Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Villanueva spoke in depth about his two most recent official visits -- to Villanova (Oct. 25-27) and to Indiana (Oct. 18-20). He took the latter visit with Blair teammate Luol Deng, who like Charlie, is also ranked among Rivalshoops' top five players in the 2003 class.
Here is a transcript of the interview that Russ Blake of Rivalshoops.com conducted with Villanueva:
Rivals Hoops: You are scheduled to make your decision next Tuesday. Can you talk to us a little bit about your most recent visit to Villanova (Oct. 25-27) and how that went?
Charlie Villanueva: The trip to Villanova, I liked it a lot. The people out there are into their sport. I enjoyed myself when I was out there. It's pretty much going to be a hard decision for me, because I am so interested in all four of the schools on my list.
RH: Was there anything that caught your eye at Villanova? Obviously, there are a lot of ex-Long Island Panthers who attend school there now.
CV: Definitely, I had fun out there. I knew mostly every guy on their team. I felt like I was on the Panthers again. It was pretty cool.
RH: Where does Villanova see you fitting in? They've had some big man signings in recent years, and they've added some excellent players to the program. What position do they see you fitting in?
CV: They see me as a three or a four. I spoke to them, and they said that they play four out and one in, so it's pretty much four perimeter guys. I would be a four/three.
RH: You are down to the four schools, all of which you've had the chance to officially visit. Do you have a leader heading into the press conference next week?
CV: No, right now, I am totally confused. But hopefully by Tuesday, I should have my mind made up.
RH: Can you touch on each of your other official visits, aside from the Villanova one. You and Luol went to Indiana together. Can you talk about that trip a little bit, and also the fact that they are the only school who is recruiting you to play there together?
CV: I didn't expect Indiana to be that good when I went out there. The fans were real dedicated, I felt welcome and I could see myself playing there. It was a nice environment and I enjoyed the trip.
RH: Where does Indiana see you fitting in playing wise?
CV: The same goes with them as with Villanova. They play four out and one in. So I will be playing out on the perimeter, a four/three.
RH: Does the fact that they are the only school recruiting both you and Luol help them? Have you guys discussed going to the same college, or is that not really an issue for you?
CV: We talked about it. I've been playing with Luol for three years, why not another year? We've been discussing it, but it's going to come down to an individual decision. We'll see what he wants to do, and if I want to do that, then we could make it happen.
RH: I noticed how you said play another year together. Are you looking at college, assuming you go to college, as a short experience?
CV: I am going to go to college for another year or two. To be honest with you, I think I need that one or two years to mature, develop more and get ready for that next level.
RH: So are you definitely going to college now, or will you still entertain the option of declaring for the draft if you are a projected lottery pick, as you have stated in previous interviews with us?
CV: If I am a lottery pick, I am definitely going to go. Right now, my main focus is on college.
RH: Could you touch on the other two finalists on your list, Seton Hall and Illinois. You visited Seton Hall from Oct. 4-6, and it's the one school on your list that is really close to home. Can you talk a little bit about their recruitment of you, Coach Orr, and how you view the Pirate program on your list?
CV: They've been recruiting me for a while, and Coach Orr, I love him. He's a great guy, I love the coaching staff and it's close to home. But going away from home really doesn't bother me, because I am away from home now. Staying close to home or going far away isn't really going to affect me.
RH: With Illinois, you had a chance to visit there in late September for the Illini's home football game against Michigan. What impressions did you take away from that trip?
CV: With Illinois, it's a college town. Everybody over there is all about Illinois basketball. So when I went out there, I was amazed. I enjoyed my trip there too, it was awesome.
RH: What are the factors that you are going to look at most closely in arriving at your decision on a college?
CV: It's pretty much going to come down to how they are going to use me. And the relationship with the head coach, and the atmosphere. I would like to go to a school where a lot of people are dedicated to the sport. So I can just go out there and have fun. As long as I stay at the school, one or two years, I would to make it as fun as possible.
RH: Is this now going to be an elimination process for you, and what I mean by that, is that you are at four schools now. Are you slowly knock schools out of the box, or are you just going to make an announcement next Tuesday and pick one of the four?
CV: I am going to slowly knock them out one by one. And then eventually, when that day comes, there's going to be one school left.
RH: Are you going to make that information public and call the coaches when you've decided to knock them out, or are you going to keep that private?
CV: I am going to keep that private, between me, my family and my coach until that day comes up.
RH: Is this a stressful time for you now, with all of the visits out of the way and the decision kind of staring at you in the face?
CV: It's very stressful, but I am going to make the right choice for myself.
RH: Are you going to sign early?
CV: I don't think I am going to sign, but I am still debating that. I don't know.
RH: So you may commit, but not sign?
CV: Yeah, or I may not. I am not sure about that.
RH: Have you heard any feedback recently from the NBA scouts about your potential draft position in the June draft?
CV: No, I haven't heard anything. All of that stuff goes through [Long Island Panthers coach] Gary Charles, Coach Mantegna or Nate Blue. So I haven't heard anything.
RH: Out of the four visits that you took this fall, did you have more fun on one than another?
CV: I had a blast at Indiana I would say. Maybe because I was with Luol. Me and him had a great time out there.