6-8 Elijah Saunders of Phoenix took the first of his five official visits last weekend to San Diego State. His next four visits in order, starting this weekend, will be to Notre Dame, Miami, Virginia Tech and USC. Saunders recently named his five top schools based on several factors.
“A mixture of me feeling I can come and contribute, how they see me in the program and development,” Saunders said. “All of them have been big on helping me work on my game and continuing to grow. They see a bigger picture than some other schools.”
USC assistant coach Will Bailey has been leading the Gamecocks’ recruiting of Saunders. He started to show strong interest early this summer, and after Frank Martin saw him in action, the offer was made.
“Someone my dad knows knows coach Will Bailey,” Saunders said. “I’ve been talking to him. Once we got to the first adidas event in Birmingham, Coach Martin came to watch me play. Then they offered, and we’ve been building the relationship ever since then.”
“They talk a lot about my versatility,” Saunders continued. “With my size and body, they felt like I can do a lot of things that can help the program. Maybe bring some different things to the table. I can shoot it. I can stretch the floor, but I can also go inside and play physical.”
Saunders has done some checking into the USC program and sees a place that could be a good fit for him.
“The fanbase is really strong,” Saunders said. “I feel like it’s very unique from a lot of schools. The location, really being the show. It’s a really tough program. I like Coach Martin a lot. All the coaches, I feel like they really believe in me. Playing in the SEC, it’s a great conference. I like it a lot. I like how they envision me in the program.”
Saunders, who plans to sign in November, is rated a three-star in the 247Sports Composite and is ranked the #24 power forward nationally in the class. He averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds per game for a state championship team.