The schedule for Rhode Island's St. Andrews School is the refiner's fire for Rakim Sanders and his teammates. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior wing is learning patience and humility this season as recruiters continue to keep tabs on the four-star prospect.
"I'll put our schedule up against anybody in the country. It's probably the toughest in the nation," says St. Andrews head coach Mike Hart.
Even with a 10-11 record, Hart believes the tough schedule this season is preparing Sanders for the next level.
"That is the reason why he's a high-major player," Hart said. "He's played up since he was 14 and while we may not be winning he's being seen and getting better and earning scholarship."
St. Andrews has taken on the powerful New England prep schools, rosters packed with post graduate players and teams with 19 and 20-year-old prospects. St. Andrews has few seniors and knows the challenges of playing the older teams.
Hart has seen the progression in his top junior during the challenging season.
"He's been up and down for us but he's working hard," Hart said. "I made it a point to him at the start of the year that he's going to have to work harder this year in games. That's what he's done. He's getting better as a passer and a defender. Now he's learning that he's got to use screens to get open and move without the ball."
Sanders, the No. 66 ranked player in the class of 2007, recently topped the 1,000 point mark for his career this season and is averaging 16 points and seven rebounds a game. The numbers are showing up on the recruiting front, too. Coaches are coming in by the dozens this season to get a good look at Sanders.
"Almost everybody has been in to see him this year. You name it, they've been here," Hart said. "Everyone but Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina. We've had a lot of schools from the ACC, Big Ten, Big East, Big 12, SEC, you name it."
Sanders said he's hearing from Providence, Boston College, Syracuse, Connecticut, Ohio State, Miami and others are involved. Hart said Sanders has been offered by Boston College, Providence, Ohio State and St. John's.
"Recruiting is going good but when the college season started, the phone calls turned into letters," Sanders said. "That's okay. It's helped me focus on my season anyways."
Unlike the majority of his class of 2007 mates, Sanders said he isn't in a rush to commit.
"I want to just wait until I can take some visits before I do anything," Sanders said.