Earlier this month, Rivals 150 point guard Robert Cartwright was admitted and made a verbal commit to Stanford. Cartwright, one of the fastest-rising prospects in the nation, is currently ranked No. 78 in the Rivals 150. He will be the highest ranked point guard in the history of Rivals.com to ink with the Cardinal.
Cardinal Sports Report recently spoke with Cartwright's father, Bob Cartwright, about his son's recruitment and Robert's college decision. Bob was proud of his son's accomplishments, but is cognizant that Robert's basketball journey is far from complete.
"In terms of the fact that all came to fruition and he was able to get a lot of college offers and do well in front of coaches and scouts and be able to play at a high level, especially when it counted, we were very proud of him," Bob Cartwright said. "We were very happy for him. And then it's like on to the next thing. So now it's about well, OK, this is what you have. Now you're going to be going into Division One playing at Stanford in the Pac-12, and he understands it. Now it's, 'Hey, I have to get physically stronger.' Everyone knows that. He has to bulk up a little bit, get some more muscle, keep working on all aspects of his game, keep getting better so that he can compete and thrive at that next level. I think we're relieved, happy, proud, and thrilled about Stanford. And very pleased for him that he's been able to achieve that goal. And I know he's going to work to try to maximize his opportunity and do well."
Robert Cartwright has been working his entire life to create an opportunity to play college basketball at the collegiate level.
"Robert took up an interest in basketball as a young kid," his father said. "He played a lot. We went through a lot of different levels and tried to find the right fit for him. He had a lot of talent as a young kid. He loved the game and he put in a lot of time and he worked really hard. And so he had dreams that he set for himself and had goals from the time he was little. He pretty much wanted to play Division One college basketball and that was a goal that he had from the time he was pretty young and he worked toward that. As a parent I recognized that he had certain talents but you never know. A lot of kids have those sorts of dreams and it's a very competitive situation. We wanted to give him every opportunity to reach his goals."
Stanford first took notice of Cartwright early in his junior year of high school. The Cardinal's pursuit intensified that winter when assistant coach Mike Schrage watched Cartwright and Flintridge Prep in person.
That spring, the Cartwright's made their way north to take an unofficial visit to The Farm. The trip made a strong impression.
"We visited Stanford and we were kind of surprised in a way that they took the amount of time that they did and took us all around for a great campus tour," Bob Cartwright said. "Coach Payne and Coach Schrage did that with us with (my wife) Patti, Robert, my younger son Jack and myself. They took us all around campus, spent a lot of time with us and explained a lot to us. Then we went in and met Coach Dawkins in his office and then went into a conference room and had a very long meeting with him. As parents, and I think Robert (feels this way as well), we put a premium on one thing in all the schools. There were a number of them that Robert got really close with, where he developed a really close relationship with assistant coaches, head coaches, and that was really an important aspect of his decision, somewhere he felt he was going to be wanted, where he felt he established a good connection with the coaches and felt he would be able to relate with them and get along well with them.
"With Stanford he absolutely developed a great relationship with Coach Schrage and Coach Payne and Coach Dawkins. Coach Dawkins would call him usually on a weekly basis from the spring forward and they would chat a little bit. From that first meeting we all came out of there holding Coach Dawkins in such high regard. Going into his office, meeting with him, he's just such a class person. We all hold him in extremely high regard and have tremendous respect for him and the way Stanford does, it, the way they conduct themselves, the way the program handles its business. It's a very classy, open, transparent way of doing things, and you just get a sense that they're being real, they're being earnest. You have a sense of what they feel about your son, what role he's going to play and the way they do things around there."
"We came out of there thinking it's Stanford, it's a coach that's played at the absolute highest levels of basketball, one of the greatest college players ever, a great pro player who's a great teacher of the game and his assistant coaches are all terrific guys as well as it being a great learning institution. That part of it obviously was critical too. Here you're coupling this coaching staff that we really feel great about and then it's Stanford University whose reputation speaks for itself. So it was an ideal combination."
After Stanford's entire coaching staff watched Cartwright play during the April recruiting period, they informed him that they planned to extend an offer, pending his admission to the school. Though Stanford's admissions process is unique among its competitors, Bob Cartwright said that Stanford's coaches did their best to present a clear and accurate depiction of the admissions process.
"I don't think that they could have been more helpful, more clear, or more transparent than they were," Bob Cartwright said. "One thing that Patti said to me many times and I heard her saying to Coach Schrage was everything that he told her played out exactly as he had indicated to her it would.
"He was extremely informative and what he told us was accurate. In my mind (they) just couldn't be more straightforward, honest guys who are trustworthy. We have the ultimate level of trust in them and we just feel great about them."
Last week, Stanford's entire coaching staff visited the Cartwright's for an in-home visit. They were joined by Cartwright's family and several of Robert's coaches.
"It was sort of a celebration and we had dinner," Bob Cartwright said. "It was a great evening and everybody had a really good time."
Now, the Cartwright's will shift their attention to Robert's senior season at Flintridge Prep and his upcoming career at Stanford. Though the Cardinal failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament in the 2012-2013 campaign, Bob Cartwright is confident Stanford will have a strong 2013-2014.
"I think they have an outstanding team this year," Bob Cartwright said. "With Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis, Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright, John Gage, Anthony Brown all those guys coming back and the Allen Twins coming in, Anthony Brown… They have pieces that are very, very talented. I would anticipate this being a very strong year for them.
"Coach Dawkins, I think that's a big part of it. Robert could not be personally more excited to play for a coach. There were a lot of coaches who Robert connected with and that he felt really good about. There were all sorts of different leagues that Robert was recruited for. For a long time University of San Diego was involved and we were extremely close with them. He really liked Coach Grier and the whole staff down there. At Harvard, Coach Amaker and some of their assistant coaches had a very close relationship (with Robert). And then there were coaches that came in along the way, further along where he developed some really good relationships with a variety of coaches. And Coach Dawkins was just one of those guys who Robert admired. I remembered Coach Dawkins when he was a player. He was younger than I was, but I showed on the Internet some tape of him playing and so he's seen what he can do and he has an air. You get in his office, there was almost a reverential tone. This man has impressed Robert as someone that he would be inspired by, that he would feel great to play for. We all just think he's a great man. He was an outstanding basketball player and I think he's an excellent basketball coach. We have great confidence in him and his staff being able to coach basketball and we think they have good players. We feel a tremendous amount of confidence in the direction of the program."