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October 11, 2010

Fant Spurns Majors To Commit To WKU

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The suspense ended quickly, before he even made his announcement. His white polo shirt announced it for him.

Warren Central (Ky.) three-star forward George Fant had kept many in the dark as to where he would go. His first official visit was to WKU, but then came official visits to Penn State and Iowa.

Ultimately, the school he'd grown up rooting for and watching its home games was too much to pass up. In an announcement at his high school library, Fant announced he was verbally committing to WKU.

"People wanted me to come to a bigger school, but I think this probably the best place for me, at home," Fant said. "I've known those guys longer and better. I know the styles, seen them play multiple times, played with them in their open gyms, know the players really good. It's just the best place for me. I don't wanna go somewhere and not be able to play."

Fant's offer list also included schools like Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, Boston College, Seton Hall and Colorado State.

On The Sporting Times Radio Show on Thursday, Fant seemed distant from the Toppers. He wasn't that distant, just not absolutely sure until last night and even this morning, even though he announced last week that his announcement would be today.

"Last night, right before I came to school, I think that's when I actually knew," Fant said. "It was down between Penn State and Western Kentucky. I took into consideration, my family. I love the staff at Penn State. Those guys are really nice and I love everything about them. But this is the place for me."

Fant has developed a number of connections with WKU. For one, his cousin, Jim McDaniels is tied with Courtney Lee as the school's all-time leading scorer, before going on to an NBA career. McDaniels told Fant early in his recruitment that he would un-retire his No. 44 for Fant to wear at WKU, if he chose there.

"We're not gonna talk about that at this time," Fant said. "But those are big shoes to fill, No. 44, the all-time leading scorer in three years. Hopefully, we'll talk about that and see if I'll still go through with that. But right now, we're just gonna keep that on the back burner."

Now, Fant won't have to tell McDaniels that he won't be coming.

"That didn't have as much influence as me just picking what school I'm going to," Fant said. "That'd probably be the worst part, but for me to know those guys and get on a personal level with those guys, not just a coach-player level, that'd probably be the worst part of the whole situation."

Fant also won't have to say no to his friend and long-time WKU commit Derrick Gordon. But while Gordon had backed off putting the press on Fant, Gordon was pleased to know he'd picked up another teammate.

"In the past three weeks, he's been letting me think by myself," Fant said. "He hasn't called me or anything. Usually, he calls, but he didn't call. He just didn't really get in touch with me much these past three weeks. I called to let him know this morning and he was really happy, so I think I did the right thing."

With his future decided, Fant now will take up the task of helping to persuade others to join in. His first target, four-star point guard Cezar Guerrero, who took his official visit to WKU for the Toppers' football home-opener Sept. 17 with Fant and center Deng Leek, who committed on Friday.

"I called Cezar and told him and I think he was the first one to know earlier this morning," Fant said. "I called him and was like, 'hey, I'm going. Are you coming?' He was like, 'You'll find out this week.' Everything's on him right now, so hopefully we can look to us four. Just waiting for Cezar. He's a great player, handles the ball really good, sees the floor great. I played with him once and he was tremendous. I've never seen anything like that. He can be looking all the way across the court and get you on the other side of the court."

Fant himself has come a long way in his high school career. He's become more versatile, adding more even through the AAU slate with All-Ohio Red. But Fant has also impressed his coach, Tim Riley with how coachable he is. Now, his game draws comparisons to current Topper, Steffphon Pettigrew.

"His game has continually progressed, further and further away from the floor since he's been here," Riley said. "I've always told him that, to continue to go further out. He's continued to go further out since he's been here. Pettigrew's a great player, but George has a little more fluid game that Steffphon does. He's a little more fluid, but Steffphon's a great player."

Riley said he's long known the pressure on Fant to stay at home. And while he said he's stayed out of the decision, he also believes it's a good fit.

"The one thing it does offer him is a very strong support group right here close by," Riley said. "A lot of kids, when they go to school they don't get that. Once he goes over there on campus, he should fall into being a Western Kentucky student and basketball player. He'll be busy. It won't be us making it happen for him. He's gonna have to go over there and do a nice job."

With his announcement out of the way, Fant can return his focus where it's most needed, on school and his senior season.

"After graduation, I'll be on 'the Hill,'" Fant said. "It's tough, but right now, I'm happy that I don't have to worry about coming out and being like, 'there's Penn State, I need to play good for those guys.' It's just Western Kentucky. I'll be a Hilltopper."




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