In recruiting, "blowing up" is always a good thing. Iman Shumpert is doing just that these days. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound shooting guard from River Forest High School in Oak Park, Ill., is quickly emerging as a guy that the mid-majors are offering without thinking and a guy that the high-majors are quickly making a point to see.
Shumpert is averaging a modest 15 points, six rebounds and three assists a game for River Forest (15-3) and does it by mixing sharp-shooting, good ball-handling and great backcourt versatility all together.
Word is leaking out about the fast-rising junior. Teams in his area certainly know plenty about him and they are trying to keep him in check this season.
"I've had a couple of quick games where I've put up about 20 or more and I've seen a lot of defenses, box and ones, a lot of things and trying to take my team as a one man team. But our team has a lot of players that can step up on any given night…It's like there is no way to stop all of us," Shumpert said.
"We all find ways to score and get open. All around, I think I'm having a good year because they are doing that. The first couple of games it was frustrating not being able to get my shot off and stuff like that but coach had me working against box and one and chasing the zone. I've gotten used to and now I'm expecting it every game. That just strengthens me. Talking it over with my dad, knowing that I'm a marked man makes me feel good but it also makes you want to work harder."
Shumpert is certainly working harder and recruiters are right there with him. These days, there is a steady stream of college coaches coming out to see the class of 2008 prospect this season.
"For a little while there, it was almost getting out of control," Shumpert said. "A new coach would text me everyday. A new letter in the box everyday. A new conference everyday. People were asking me to visit on the same weekends. Text messages all night. I tried to answer all of them so that's what made it hectic. Now, it's starting to calm down a little more now that I'm playing and their seasons are keeping them busy. I'm paying more attention to teams that I can see myself playing for in their offense and playing in their system and how I would respond to their head coaches."
Shumpert has been a mid-major delight when it comes to scholarship offers. He said he is holding free rides from Bradley, Illinois State, Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Toledo and Western Kentucky while Minnesota, Nevada and Northwestern have also tendered a scholarship.
Arizona State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Wisconsin are all showing significant interest, he said, and stopped by to see him in action this season. Shumpert visited Notre Dame last Sunday for an unofficial visit.
Now the dilemma comes in – does he look harder at those that started with him long ago or get caught up in the power conference programs?
"I've never really thought about knocking off all of the mid-major colleges," Shumpert said. "I've thought of it as the mid-majors have seen me first and they are going off of what they have seen and not what they have heard about me. They know what I can do before I had this breakout year. To me, it only seems fair that I take a look at the mid-major colleges just as hard. Some of these high-majors might be going off of the hype, send a letter and then think they are automatically in mix. I'm look at those that are the most sincere and those that are really showing me the interest no matter the level."
With interest from a number of schools from both levels, Shumpert said he hasn't thought too far down the road about trimming his list to a more manageable size.
"I haven't…yet," Shumpert said. "I have some schools in mind. I have a lot of booklets and a lot of things to read through. I'm having colleges send me things on their academics and looking through all of them. After the season is over, I'm going to take a closer look at all of the information that I can get with my parents and coaches and try to find five schools that best fit. No matter the choice I make, I have to live with one of those places that I can't go wrong."
That decision could come at the start of the summer or when AAU starts in the spring. He will lace up his shoes for the Full Package AAU club.
You better believe the sidelines will be filled with a number of coaches that hope he blows up for them down the road.