It's been tiring, but Maarty Leunen, the versatile 6-foot-9, 210-pound forward from Redmond, Ore., is finally done with his official visits. This past week he finished up his trips by hitting the campuses of both Oregon and Oregon State, and came back from both with questions answered.
The first visit for Leunen was in mid-week as he went to Eugene and the campus of the University of Oregon from September 23-24. "That trip went really good," said Leunen. "I had a really good time hanging out with the players and the coaches. I would go to breakfast, and then I would out with some of the players, and then we'd have lunch and then we'd play ball a little. We even went out bowling one night. Each time we got together we'd do something different."
Unlike the UCLA and Gonzaga trips where he had one host, the Ducks changed things around in how they hosted Leunen. "Basically the whole team hosted me," said Leunen. "They did something different. A different person would come to meet me and take me to each event."
Earlier at UCLA and Gonzaga, those schools were able to trot out NBA superstars like Magic Johnson and John Stockton to participate in scrimmages with Leunen. While the Ducks didn't quite have that at their disposal, Leunen still had a great time scrimmaging with the current Ducks players.
"(The games) were pretty good," said Leunen. "I enjoyed playing with Luke (Jackson), James Davis, and the other guys."
One question Leunen had going into his trip to Oregon was whether or not he would fit in with the players. He had met many of them before on unofficial visits, and knew of their reputations as "good guys", but wanted to make sure how he felt about them. Consider the question answered.
"I wanted to get familiar with their players and I thought I did," said Leunen. "They're a great school and everything and they have a lot going for them."
After Leunen was done with Oregon, he immediately packed up his bags and headed up I-5 up to Corvallis and the campus of Oregon State University over the weekend. "It was another great trip," said Leunen. "I got to hang out with the coaches and the players a lot. We went to the football game (against Arizona State), and it was exciting seeing them win, and all the support their fans give them."
Like it was at Oregon, Leunen got plenty of time to scrimmage with the OSU players during his time on campus. The action was good, and Leunen had a fun time playing with another OSU recruit who was on his official visit at the same time. "Marcel (Jones) was there on his visit too," said Leunen. "I had a good time interacting with him."
Leunen also had his own questions going into OSU - and felt that they were answered during his visit to Corvallis. "My main thing was making sure that they were going to turn things around and start winning games again," said Leunen. "I could tell from their scrimmages and everything that they are."
One thing nice about Leunen's trips to Oregon and Oregon State was the fact that he visited the campuses at a time when students were starting to move in --something he had not experienced before during previous unofficial visits. Classes at both schools started this Monday. "At both Oregon and Oregon State, students were coming in and moving in," said Leunen. "So it was nice to see the schools when students were on campus."
Having now seen both campuses and basketball programs up close and personal, how would Leunen compare the two major in-state schools in Oregon? "They're different in ways, for example the campuses are different -- OSU is a little more spread out," said Leunen, who then went on to talk about the differences in the basketball programs. "Oregon has their program already set -- they have goals and everything. OSU -- they're rebuilding and still trying to get things started again."
Leunen has really appreciated taking all of his official visits as they have taught him not only about the campuses and the basketball programs in general, but also about the coaches, the players, and the relationships and friendships that he's developed along the way.
"All the visits were awesome in that I had the opportunity to go on their campuses and hang out with the players," said Leunen. "They're all different in their own ways, but they're all good in their own ways too. So basically I can't make a bad decision wherever it is I decide to go."
Of course, the question begs -- is he leaning one way or another at this point in time? "Not really," said Leunen. "I'm still keeping my mind open these last couple of days."
But after those days pass, Leunen has set a deadline for himself to make a final choice. "I'm hoping that by Wednesday of next week I'll have my decision made," said Leunen. "I still have coaches coming in this week. Coach Howland is coming tomorrow night (for an in-home visit), and on Wednesday, OSU is visiting to come see me work out. On Friday, Coach Kent is coming in. But I'm looking at making a decision next week."
How Leunen will come to his decision will basically come down to things feeling just right. "I think I'll sit down with my parents and then go with my gut feeling," said Leunen. "It's not like I'll make a bad decision whatever way that I go."
In the meantime, Leunen is simply happy to be back home. While the trips were extremely useful to him and will undoubtedly go a long ways in determining where he will spend the next four years of his life, he's just glad to be home in Redmond and heading back to school at Redmond High.
"I'm pretty happy (that they're all over)," said Leunen. "Between missing school and keeping on top of your schedule, you still have to give them all of your time, waking up at 7 to go to breakfast and stuff -- it ends up getting to you. But it was all fun."