Two-sport athletes are becoming the norm. And good two-sport athletes at that.
The class of 2005 is a perfect example. Greg Paulus was one of the top quarterbacks this season. He'll play hoops at Duke next year. Martellus Bennett, one of the top small forwards in the country, doubles as the nation's top tight end. He signed with Texas A&M and wants to play both.
Austin Jackson, who has signed with Georgia Tech, and C.J. Henry, an unsigned senior, are awaiting for the Major League Baseball draft to see how high they will be selected. Both are also nationally ranked guards on the hardwood.
Add Josh Chichester to the list of top athletes in the class of 2006 and be sure to put the 6-foot-8, 205-pound small forward/wide receiver near the top of the list.
Chichester, a product of Lakota West High School in West Chester, Ohio, has caught the attention of some of the biggest programs in the country for both hoops and football. The No. 125 ranked junior in the country (in hoops) has been to games at Illinois, Kentucky and Notre Dame this year.
"He was invited to so many more but we just couldn't fit it into our schedule," says Lakota West head coach Mike Mueller.
Bruce Weber of Illinois, Kentucky's Tubby Smith and UConn assistant coach Tom Moore all made the trip to Ohio to see the long forward in action. Dayton, Purdue and Xavier have all offered a scholarship.
There is a lot to like on the hardwood with Chichester, says Mueller, and the youngster is only getting better.
"He's getting better by leaps and bounds," Mueller said. "If he makes the jump he's made from his sophomore year to his junior year next year as a senior, then he's going to be one special ball player."
With seven players scoring between seven to 14 points a game, the offensive numbers won't jump off the stat papers when looking at Chichester's line. The 13 point, eight rebounds and three blocks per game player's impact goes far beyond the paperwork.
"He's an outstanding defensive player," says Mueller. "We are a well-balanced team. He's not a numbers guy but he's a big impact guy."
Chichester is already the all-time leading shot blocker in school history. He also set the single season record of 47, breaking his own record set last year. After catching 11 touchdown passes and already breaking the school's all-time receiving yardage record, Chichester caught the attention from all of the major football programs. He's tall, athletic and has magnets for hands.
"He could be the tallest punt returner in the history of the game at 6-foot-8," Mueller said.
With big-time skills in both sports, the question is certainly asked by recruiters on a daily basis. What sport will he play at the next level?
"It's hard to say because so many people are turning his head saying what they need to say," Mueller said. "They are telling him he could make millions on Sundays and that the road to the NFL may be quicker. Now that may or may not be right but I know he's a heck of a basketball player…
"He loves basketball and it's his first commitment right now. It's the sport he loves," Mueller said. "He'll have to make some decisions down the road."
Lakota West (19-3) will be in action on March 5 when they play Trodwood Madison at Dayton University at 8:45 p.m.