Earl Timberlake is the kind of recruit that has typically eluded Seton Hall for years.
A five-star forward who plays for Maryland prep powerhouse DeMatha Catholic and Team Durant on the Nike EYBL circuit, Timberlake’s offer list is filled with blue blood programs. From North Carolina to Florida and Louisville, Timberlake has been recruited by some of the country’s top programs.
Instead of falling victim to the allure of big-name schools, Timberlake has been meticulous in deciding which schools truly are the best fit for him. Relationships and academics have been paramount in Timberlake’s recruitment, as well as his family’s opinion on each campus he visits and coaching staff he meets with. As a result, Seton Hall has been able to buck its trend of striking out on top recruits before even given the chance to reach the finish line and stick around as a prominent contender for Timberlake’s services with his recruitment winding down.
The Pirates are among Timberlake’s final list of schools which also includes Miami, Pittsburgh, Providence and South Carolina. A Nov. 4 decision date has been rumored as that is Timberlake’s birthday, but a ceremony to announce his decision on that date has yet to be confirmed. Either way, Timberlake’s recruitment figures to be wrapped up by the end of the fall signing period.
So, where do the Pirates really stand with the Timberlake sweepstakes nearing an end? Let’s take a look at each of Timberlake’s finalists to get a better feel of what’s going through his mind right now.
Seton Hall: The Pirates arguably have a better relationship with Timberlake than any other coaching staff who has been recruiting him. Timberlake’s family loves assistant coach Tony Skinn and the rest of the Seton Hall coaching staff. The school’s proximity to New York City and its educational opportunities also pique their and Timberlake’s interest.
Timberlake got a real glimpse at what Seton Hall has to offer both on and off the court on his official visit. He got to work out individually with Myles Powell and a handful of NBA players at the NBA Players’ gym in New York City and also got an inside look at Seton Hall’s biology program (Timberlake’s desired major is sports medicine, but Seton Hall does not offer that program).
Another major factor at play is Timberlake’s recruitment is his relationship with Seton Hall commit Dimingus Stevens. The two not only played together on Team Durant this past summer, but have known each other since middle school and are close friends. Stevens has been recruiting Timberlake heavily since he pledged his commitment to Seton Hall in July and has made a strong impression on him according to a source close to the situation.
They haven’t gotten much attention throughout his recruitment, but the Pirates have made major inroads with Timberlake. Consider Seton Hall a prime contender in this battle.
Pittsburgh: Pitt is the lone ACC program among Timberlake’s finalists, but don’t expect the Panthers to be his choice. According to a source familiar with Timberlake’s recruitment, his official visit to Pittsburgh left a lot to be desired in all areas.
Providence: If there’s any coach in the Big East that can charm a family with ease, it’s Ed Cooley. Timberlake’s mother is reportedly a big fan of Cooley’s, but has not visited Providence in a little over a year.
The Friars were one of the first programs to offer Timberlake and seemed like the front-runner for a while. However, if Timberlake was going to commit to the Friars, it likely would have happened already given his long-standing relationship with Cooley and the rest of his coaching staff.
Miami: The Hurricanes have come on strong in the past week or so and currently lead the 247Sports crystal ball predictions. Timberlake took his official visit to Miami a little over a month ago and had a solid stay in Coral Gables, but did not return from his visit with any indication that the Hurricanes were a definitive front-runner.
With Miami leading the crystal ball predictions and Seton Hall a serious contender, Timberlake’s recruitment could come down to a teacher versus student battle. Hurricanes head coach Jim Larrinaga coached Skinn, Timberlake’s primary recruiter, at George Mason and Skinn was an integral part of Larrinaga’s Final Four team.
South Carolina: Timberlake seems to be trending away from South Carolina at this point, but it wouldn’t be right to count out Frank Martin and his coaching staff just yet. They came from behind to snatch Chris Silva away from Seton Hall and a handful of other suitors five years ago. They could easily do the same thing with Timberlake if they catch a lucky break or two.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at email@example.com. Find him on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.