When Jim Calhoun announced his retirement as head basketball coach at Connecticut six days ago, Xavier Rathan-Mayes said he was “sad to see a legend like that leave.”
“Coach Calhoun is one of the greatest coaches,” Rathan-Mayes said. “That’s definitely one of the reasons I was considering them.”
The operative question? Would the departure of the Hall of Fame coach cool Rathan-Mayes’ interest in the Huskies?
As one of the top shooting guards in the country, Rathan-Mayes, a senior at Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.), had narrowed his extensive list of suitors down to just three: Connecticut, Florida State and Illinois.
“Not at all,” Rathan-Mayes said. “I never even debated removing them from my list. As much respect as I had for coach Calhoun, coach (Kevin) Ollie was the one I was closest to there.”
Ollie, a longtime assistant to Calhoun, was named as his successor.
“Ask any recruit about coach Ollie and they’ll tell you that they love him,” Rathan-Mayes said. “He’s a great recruiter and a man of God. So I’m even more excited that he’s got that position.”
Rathan-Mayes said that while “most recruits” factor in where they’re playing, who they’re playing for carries more weight.
“I really like Connecticut’s tradition and what they stand for there,” Rathan-Mayes said. “But if coach Ollie would’ve left it probably would’ve been a different story for me because I don’t have a relationship with anyone else there as deep as I do with him.”
Rathan-Mayes will visit Illinois this weekend before heading to Connecticut the weekend of Sept. 29. He plans to announce his decision on Oct. 13.
“I’ll take both visits and go home to Canada and make a decision with my family,” he said. “I’ll base a lot of my decision on the relationship with the coaches and that’s why I’m still considering Connecticut. It’s all about who you bond with and I have bonds with these three schools.”