As the 2014 recruiting season wraps up, fans will start to focus their attention to the class of 2015.
Unlike the fans, the coaches are well aware of these prospects, and have been recruiting them for quite some time.
One prospect that is on a great deal of mid-majors radar is Vinnie Safin, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Rocklin High School in Rocklin, Calif.
Safin hails from the same high school as former Pepperdine forward Brendan Lane. According to Safin, Lane was highly regarded while at Rocklin.
“I’ve been following Brendan for a long time,” Safin said. “He was kind of the guy around here before I went to high school. When I was a kid, [Lane] was the guy I always looked up to”
Growing up, Safin was a post, playing more on the interior rather than on the perimeter like he does now.
“In middle school, I was taller than everybody, so they were projecting me to be about 6-foot-8,” Safin said.
Naturally, Safin tried to be like Lane as much as he could.
“I always modeled my game after Brendan,” Safin said. “That was the guy I wanted to be like.”
However, Safin did not grow as everyone anticipated and ended up 6-foot-4. After realizing this in the summer going into eighth grade, Safin knew he needed to make the transition to the guard position.
In order to get used to perimeter shooting, ball handling and other qualities attributed to the guard position, Safin said he has taken thousands of shots per week and worked on his ball handling with basketball skills trainer Micah Lancaster, as well as with some former Sacramento State basketball players.
All that hard work and dedication has presumably paid off for Safin. A host of mid-major schools from coast-to-coast have contacted Safin, including a few WCC schools.
According to Safin, Portland, along with Utah State, Utah Valley and Hawaii are the schools currently recruiting him the hardest. San Diego and Pacific, along with most of the Ivy Leagues have also expressed their interest in Safin.
As mentioned above, the Pilots been contacting Safin regularly and have been very active in his recruiting process. Assistant Coach Colin Pfaff has been the primary recruiter, according to Safin.
To Portland’s advantage, Safin has a familiar face on the team: Sacramento native Bryce Pressley.
“I’ve been around him since he went to Jesuit in Sacramento,” Safin said.
As a result, Safin is familiar with the coaches and the team and has received positive reviews about the school and the basketball program from Pressley.
“The way they work and their style is intriguing to me, since I play how they would play,” said Safin.
After all of the exposure to the school, the University of Portland has truly piqued the interest of Safin.
“They came down and watched a practice so I know they’re really interested in me,” Safin said. “I hope something is going to come out of that soon.”
The University of San Diego has been in contact with Safin as well, more specifically Assistant Coach Mike Burns, said Safin. While they have not been as persistent as Portland, the sharpshooting two-guard indicated that USD has given him some looks.
Pacific, which is about an hour drive away from Rocklin, Calif., has been interested in Safin for a while, even though it has slowed down in recent times.
“They recruited me a lot in the beginning, but they only have one scholarship for next year so they said they are going to take their time with it and make sure they give it to the right guy,” said Safin.
Safin, who plays for the NorCal Pharaohs Varsity Showcase AAU team, has upcoming tournaments in San Francisco and Anaheim coming up, as well as the Adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas.