Beginning Wednesday, Ryan Harrow and his mother, Fern Matthews, will embark on a 10-day, five-school odyssey that will help them decide where the transfer from N.C. State will land.
In one of the most unique recruiting trips you’ll ever hear about, Harrow, a 6-foot-1 freshman point guard, and his mom will visit Kentucky, Texas, Louisville, Georgia and St. John’s without going home in between.
“Everything is back-to-back like this is because there’s a dead period from the 19th through the 27th,” Matthews said Friday by phone from Raleigh, N.C. “Summer school’s starting the second week in June.
“I kind of wanted to get the five visits out of the way and give Ryan a week or two to make a decision and then get ready for summer school.
“It will be busy.”
Asked if all five schools were equal in their minds going in, Matthews had this to say: “No one has anything any better than these five, other than St. John’s is our home.”
The family has deep connections to Queens and the New York area.
Both Fern and her husband, Mark, grew up in Queens. Former St. John’s assistant Ron Rutledge is a close family friend whom Harrow refers to as an “uncle.”
St. John’s will get the last of the five official visits, on May 18.
“Coach [Steve] Lavin and I have been hitting and missing [on phonecalls],” Matthews said. “I left him a voice message. I talked to coach Tony [Chiles].”
St. John’s has a verbal commit from point guard Jevon Thomas for 2012 and is also pursuing 2012 standout Kyle Anderson, who could potentially play point guard or point forward.
The Johnnies are also bringing in several guards in this year’s class, including JUCO standout Nurideen Lindsey, Phil Greene of Chicago and D’Angelo Harrison of Texas.
“We’re doing our homework in terms of who’s on staff, who’s on the roster and who are their incoming recruits,” Matthews said, referring to all five schools.
Harrow started 10 games at N.C. State and averaged 9.3 points and 3.3 assists in 23 minutes.
Because Harrow committed to then-N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe as a high school sophomore, he never took any official visits and never got a feel for other schools.
When Lowe was fired and replaced by Mark Gottfried, Matthews said her son saw it as an opportunity to branch out and look at other options.
Still, Harrow will miss playing with Lorenzo Brown, his Godbrother, and close friend C.J. Leslie, who was coached at Raleigh Word of God by Erasto Hatchett, Matthews’ son-in-law.
“He actually loved the area that he was in,” she said. “It’s just that he wanted to have that opportunity. If the NCAA allowed him to go out on these visits and be able to go back to N.C. State, he may have made that choice. But the NCAA doesn’t allow him to do that.
“He thought for his individual development that releasing from the school and sitting out a year will do him wonders. Hopefully, the next situation is a great situation for him. He won’t know until he’s actually gone through it.”
Wherever Harrow lands, he will have to sit out a year per NCAA transfer regulations. He will use that time to build his body strength, learn the system and get prepared to play in 2012-13.
“He’s not going to be playing next year,” Matthews said. “The good thing is he has the time to work really hard, getting to know the staff and the team. It’s great.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.