Of course Akoy Agau was a bit nervous.
He knew the phone call was coming Monday. He was told to be ready. Guess it makes sense to be prepared when a bona fide college basketball coaching legend is about to call your cell phone.
Agau's palms became sweaty.
After all, Connecticut's Jim Calhoun was in his ear.
"I suddenly was talking to one of the best coaches in the game of basketball," Agau said. "It was really special."
A 6-foot-9 power forward at Omaha Central, Agau is getting used to such attention. The senior-to-be has attracted nearly 25 scholarship offers, including ones from UConn, Georgetown, Nebraska, Creighton, Tennessee, Georgia, Clemson, Marquette, Iowa, Oregon and Xavier.
Akoy, this is John Thompson III from Georgetown. How ya doin' son?
Agau seemingly keeps a level head during what's becoming an intense recruiting process.
"It's definitely serious," he said. "There are a lot of things I have to think through."
Nebraskans aren't accustomed to watching an in-state basketball player attract the level of recruiting attention that Agau has generated. It's probably safe to say he is the first in-state player in a generation to accrue such a lengthy and impressive list of scholarship offers.
Best I can tell — feel free to correct me — you would have to go back to Andre Woolridge in 1991 to find a comparable recruiting situation. The former Omaha Benson guard picked Nebraska after considering Kentucky, Georgetown, Syracuse, Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado, among others. Woolridge played one season at NU before transferring to Iowa.
Electrifying guard Erick Strickland also signed with Nebraska in 1991. But his list of hoops offers was held down by his prowess as a football and baseball player.
One can recall a slew of formidable in-state players from the last couple decades. Alton Mason. Shawn Redhage. Mike Bargen. Matt Hill. Elliott Eliason. Josh Dotzler. Antoine Young. Almost too many to list, really. But I can think of nobody who attracted 20-plus scholarship offers, including ones from Big East powers.
Agau enjoys an advantage over many of the big-name players during the last 20 to 30 years in that high school stars nowadays have drastically more opportunities to play in front of Division I coaches, thanks in large part to the rise of AAU programs nationwide. It's a phenomenon that really picked up steam within the past decade or so, according to Doyle Dillow of the Nebraska Basketball Development Association.
For example: The week of July 25-29, there are no fewer than 15 AAU tournaments scheduled around the country, from Boca Raton, Fla., to Kansas City, Mo., to Las Vegas.
Agau departed Thursday for an AAU event in San Francisco. It's not a "live" event, he said — meaning college coaches are barred from the tournament. July is when coaches can resume on-site evaluations at AAU events.
So, July is a time when Agau will rack up even more scholarship offers, according to industry experts.
"I've definitely been playing well this summer," Agau said.
He clearly is enamored with UConn. He prefers the Huskies' upbeat style of play and also likes the fact Calhoun develops NBA players by the bushel.
Agau wants badly to play in the NBA.
Agau talks excitedly about playing recently in front of Shaka Smart of VCU, Cuonzo Martin of Tennessee and Thompson III during an AAU tournament in Arkansas.
Tim Miles, the new Nebraska coach, also was on hand. Agau knows Miles well — after all, Miles began recruiting Agau when he was a sophomore at Central and Miles coached at Colorado State.
If Miles convinces Agau to play for the Huskers, I'm guessing basketball success-starved Big Red fans would throw a parade in the Haymarket district, the fun perhaps starting and ending where the new arena is currently under construction.
Agau said he has a good relationship with Miles. Hey, Nebraska fans, you never know. Cross your fingers and pray to the hoops heavens. Pray hard.
Does Agau ever become annoyed during the recruiting process?
"No, not really, besides that one time when a former Central teammate of mine (Deverell Biggs) decided to go to Nebraska and the whole state had me also going to NU to play basketball," Agau said.
Ouch. Miles evidently has some work to do.
We'll be watching. It isn't like we see this intense of a recruiting battle for an in-state player every day — or even every decade.