It happens every year at every school in every state. One players leaves for a great opportunity and another prospect comes to the forefront. It is happening at Harvard-Westlake High School in North Hollywood, Calif., this season.
Gone is Alex Stephenson and junior Renaldo Woolridge is back. Stepheson finished his great career and is now working with some of the best players and coaches in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Wooldridge, a 6-foot-7, 190-pound wing, is preparing himself for a big season on the other side of the country. He said he learned a lot from his former teammate.
"He influenced me a lot," Woolridge said of Stepheson. "I had to guard him a lot and he'd teach me all of his tricks and other little things. We worked a lot together and he made me tougher. I've caught a couple of elbows from him. On and off the court, he was a great role model to me."
Woolridge has made the steady climb on the recruiting chart and the growth chart since enrolling in high school. As a freshman, he was a 6-foot-1 guard. As a sophomore, he was a 6-foot-4 shooting guard. As a junior, he is now a 6-foot-7 wing.
"I consider myself an athletic, tall guard that can shoot the three and post people up or shoot over them," Woolridge said. "I've been working on taking the slower footed big guys off the dribble and getting by them or posting up the smaller guards that come out on me."
The secret is getting out on Woolridge. Tulsa was in on Tuesday to see him in open gym. Miami is coming in on Wednesday, he said. Washington stopped by last week. Marquette and Pepperdine have put in calls to inquire. There is one school out there that the would like to hear from.
"Notre Dame," Woolridge said. "That is where my dad went to school. I saw them at some of my games but I haven't heard much from them."
Wooldridge's father, Orlando, played 13 seasons in the NBA and scored over 13,500 points in his career after shining for the Irish in the 1980s.
The younger Woolridge said he isn't in a rush to find a college home. The priority is in the classroom.
"Academics are number one," Woolridge said. "At our school, there is nothing to compare it to."
The schools will come. Woolridge saw it with Stepheson. He will likely see it for himself, too.