Vernon Goodridge, the nation’s No. 24 ranked player in the class of 2005 by Rivals.com, is putting his recruitment into fifth gear. The 6-foot-9, 215-pound big man from Philadelphia Lutheran High School is about to visit a number of schools on official visits. He’s already seen a handful of programs unofficially and could be getting close to winding down.
Many believe Mississippi State is the favorite to land his services but the Brooklyn native said that isn’t the case. In fact, his official visits to MSU, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Illinois and Georgetown will determine a leader more than anything, he says.
“I hear all of that but there really isn’t a leader,” Goodridge said. “I’m taking official visits to those schools just because I can’t drive there. If they were closer, I’d just drive like I did with Connecticut, St. John’s and Villanova.”
Seton Hall and Syracuse are also being considered, he said.
“Probably after I take my last visit, I’ll sit down with my family and weigh the pros and cons of every school and then decide,” Goodridge said. “I want to get to work right away.”
So what is it about the schools on his list that he likes? With two of the schools, he has ties to the respective schools already.
“(Mississippi State) has Gary Ervin and I know him pretty good. They have had some good big men come out of there and that’s pretty good. I mean, they’ve been good enough for the league. Those are the little things that I’m looking for in this big decision.”
Pittsburgh also has a friend from New York on it’s roster.
“My friend Chris Taft got better when he went there and he’s still getting better,” Goodridge said. “He isn’t the same player when he played back home in Brooklyn. He put on some size and I can see myself just like that.”
With Florida State, Goodridge will watch the Seminoles, particularly the post players this year, more than ever.
“I’ve watched them play last year and they like to get out and run a lot,” he said. “I like the set up down there. I could see myself playing for Coach (Leonard) Hamilton. I gotta look at the big men this season and see how they develop and help them get better. That’s big for me.”
Georgetown is working all of the angles.
“I would love to be a part of that history and add to it,” Goodridge said. “I met Big John (Thompson, the former head coach) and the new coach (John) Thompson III. We were all talking about the school. They are all cool. I know I’d get better and I feel like they are getting back to what they used to be.”
The big man also feels like his relationship with Illinois coach Bruce Weber is close.
“At all of the AAU things I played in, I always saw coach Weber. I’d joke with him and yell across the gym, ‘Hey Coach Weber’ and he’d just smile back really big,” Goodridge said. “They had Brian Cook there and his game is kind of like mine expect I think I can play bigger than him.”
The top center in the nation said he could possibly decide on a school before the season gets started and hopes to sign in the early period in November.