Jason Guarente (@JasonGuarente)
About a year has passed since Tommy Haugh made one of his most difficult decisions. He needed to move away. He had to leave his friends behind.
From a basketball standpoint, it was a no-brainer. So many more doors could open if he left hometown New Oxford in York County for the Perkiomen School in Pennsport. From a life standpoint, it was scary. He was a high school junior venturing out on his own. He had to do his laundry. Make his bed.
Haugh (above) has developed into a Division I forward, with eight scholarship offers. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
“After the first couple of weeks it was normal,” Haugh said. “The teammates I was around at Perkiomen were awesome. I never really got bored there.”
The basketball dividends are being realized now. That was clear after a whirlwind of visits Haugh made recently. Over the weekend he made official stops at Holy Cross and Quinnipiac and an unofficial visit to Fairfield. This week, an official visit to Boston University and an official to Lafayette were scheduled.
As the 6-foot-9, 200-pound power forward prepares for his senior season, Division I interest has spiked, with eight scholarship offers coming in during the June and July live recruiting periods. Haugh said going the prep school route helped make this possible.
“Just being able to get into the gym any time I want and the individual workouts we would do during the season and after the season was huge,” Haugh said. “The competition there has helped my game grow tremendously.”
Brian Daly, Haugh’s coach with Philly Pride Gold, expected colleges would eventually flock the player’s way. His size, athleticism and ability to make an impact at both ends of the floor were bound to generate interest.
The defensive side is more polished. The offensive side shows great potential.
“He still has a ton of room to improve but he can score inside, he can score outside, he can drive the ball,” Daly said. “Defensively is where you can see him contributing right away freshman year. He has the ability to essentially play 1 through 5. You can switch with him. You can blitz with him. You can do a number of things defensively. For those reasons I thought he would get a lot of attention.”
Daly, who played at St. Joe’s and was associate head coach at Penn State, has seen Haugh blossom over the past year. The aggressiveness the big man showed in practice has become more apparent in games.
“His confidence really ballooned,” Daly said. “You’re always going to get a lot of effort out of him. He’s going to be a great presence on the defensive end and offensive rebounding. But he looked for his shot more and was more aggressive offensively.”
Haugh said one of the things Perkiomen coach Tom Baudinet stressed was getting his shot off more quickly. There was more time to make decisions in high school games compared to prep games. That window of time will shrink even more in college.
The plan is to schedule visits with Albany, Siena and Lehigh before the end of summer and pick a destination shortly after school resumes.
These days Haugh is getting the VIP treatment from all his suitors. That means getting picked up at the airport and placed in nice hotels. He’s getting tours of each campus and photo shoots to see how he looks in each school’s colors.
“It’s awesome,” Haugh said. “I know once I get to whatever school I’m going to it’s not going to be like that. It’s cool. My hard work from my high school days and when I was younger is paying off.”
Haugh said he wants to find a strong academic school that fits his athletic needs. The Patriot League and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference are both in pursuit.
“He’s got everything he wanted,” Daly said. “He’s got great options right now. He doesn’t need a single additional offer. He’ll be able to make the right decision for him academically and athletically.”