Monday, August 29, 2011

Cressler Picks Cornell

Cornell received a commitment on August 29 from Nolan Cressler (Plum HS) Plum, PA, 6-4, G.

The Cornell Basketball Blog spoke with his high high school coach Ron Richards about Cressler.

Cressler, a 185 pound senior in the class of 2012 also had offers from Yale, St. Francis (Pa.), Boston University and Holy Cross and varying levels of involvement and interest from Penn, Princeton, Fairfield, William & Mary, Davidson, Kent State, Lafayette, Army, Navy, North Florida, Niagara and Robert Morris. He has a 3.7 GPA.

Richards told The Cornell Basketball Blog that as a sophomore, Cressler was only 6'1" and roughly 160 lbs. In just over a year, he grew 3 inches and added close to 30 pounds. "He's really pushing 6'5" at this point and still growing. I expect him to get bigger before he graduates," said Richards.

After attending Cornell's Elite Prospect Camp during June, Cressler visited Holy Cross and Boston U. on August 17, a pair of schools which had made offers. In fact, Holy Cross had just offered the week before. Following his visits, Cressler made his decision that he wanted to pull the trigger and commit to Cornell.

Richards told The Cornell Basketball Blog, "Nolan really narrowed his choices to Cornell, Yale, Holy Cross and Boston University by late August. Other schools started to come in late, but Nolan was focused on the four he visited. He really wanted a high level of academics." Penn and Princeton were noted as two schools that started to make late pushes for Cressler.

Richards stressed, "Cornell's coaching staff simply outworked the other schools recruiting him. They were at every single one of Nolan's AAU games all summer. They didn't miss a single game." Richards noted that Cressler formed a very special connection with Cornell assistant coach Marlon Sears as well as head coach Bill Courtney.

A big time scorer, Cressler averaged 25.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2 assists per game last season, scoring 46 on one outting. The Pittsburgh Basketball Report ranks him as the #6 overall prospect in the region and the #2 point guard. He is also ranked among the top 5 players in the WPIAL by D-Up Hoops. As a junior Cressler was selected by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette to its Fabulous 5 team of the best 5 players in the area.

As a senior, Cressler was selected to the Roundball Classic on April 21, 2012 at Geneva College. Cressler also played on March 24, 2012 in the Cager Classic All Star Game at Highlands High School in Natrona Heights (PA) where he set the all-star game's 16-year single game scoring record with a 38 point performance. The MSA Sports Network named Cressler as a First Team All Western Pennsylvania selection ("All Netters Team") amongst a group of Division I commitments. He averaged 25.8 points per game his senior season, 2nd in the WPIAL. Cressler was also selected as the Player of the Year by The Pittsburgh Post Gazette EastXtra blog and was named to the Super Six Team by Pittsburgh Basketball Report (PBR). PBR writes, "Nolan finished the regular season second in scoring with 25.7 ppg. He played many roles for his team, and was one of the most efficient players in the WPIAL. He led his team to the playoffs, defeating Kiski Area before falling to Shaler in the quarterfinals. Nolan has signed to play Division 1 basketball at Cornell University. " Cressler also was named 2nd Team All State for AAAA schools (largest school classification in Pennsylvania). See articles releasing the All State team at the Morning Call, Philly.com, PennLive.com and The Pittsburgh Post Tribune. The Tribune notes, "Cressler, a Cornell recruit, averaged 25.8 per game and led Plum (16-8) to the Class AAAA quarterfinals. He also averaged 8.8 rebounds per game and shot close to 60 percent from the floor. He finished with 1,565 career points."

Cresler was also named to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's Terrific Ten Team. The Gazette writes:

NOLAN CRESSLER

PLUM, 6-4, SR., GUARD

One of the top shooters in the WPIAL, his 25 ppg led Class AAAA and boosted the Mustangs to the WPIAL quarterfinals. The Cornell recruit also had interest from Yale and Penn.

He was also named to the Pittsburgh Post Tribune's Fab Five Team and was also selected by the Tribune as its WPIAL AAAA Player of the Year and selected by area coaches to the Section 2 First Team. The Tribune profiles Cressler on its Fab Five Team as follows:

Nolan Cressler

Plum senior

Height: 6-4

Position: G

The scoop: Cressler scored in a variety of ways. He played point guard and shooting guard and was the second-leading scorer in the WPIAL with a 25.8 ppg average. He shot 58 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3-point range and 81 percent from the free-throw line. He also averaged 8.8 rebounds in helping Plum reach the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals. He finished as Plum's all-time leading scorer with 1,565 points.

College talk: Cressler will play at Cornell of the Ivy League.

Most memorable moment this season: When I made my college decision and when we had some pretty impressive wins during a winning streak.

In basketball, you'd like to improve ... ? Mostly my on-the-ball defense.

Favorite school subject? Psychology.

Something you wish you could do over? Our [WPIAL] quarterfinal game against Shaler. I just felt like we could've won that game.

Movie you could watch anytime? "Dumb and Dumber." There are so many great quotes in that movie.

People might be surprised to know ... I'm climbing a mountain in August. It's somewhere in the Rocky Mountains with my uncle. It's a graduation present type of thing.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Hopefully having a great job in the business world and starting my life outside of basketball.

Cressler was also named to the Gazette's EastXtra Fab Five Team for schools in the eastern part of the Pittsburgh metro area. The Gazette writes, "Nolan Cressler-Plum-Guard, 6-4, Sr.-Cressler scored from both the point guard and shooting guard positions, averaging 25.8 points per game, the second-highest average in the WPIAL, despite never scoring higher than 35 points in any one game, a testimony to his consistency. ... He finished his career as Plum's all-time leading scorer with 1,565 career points and also averaged 8.8 rebounds per game this season. ... Cressler is signed to play basketball at Cornell next season."

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette during January 2011, Richards mentioned a wide array of qualities that makes Cressler such an elite scorer. "He's no one-trick pony," Richards said. "He's tough to defend because he's such a complete offensive player at a young age. He can take you off the dribble and finish, he has a nice mid-range game, and he can shoot the 3. Plus he has the size to post up. He's a tough matchup."

Richards made very similar comments when he spoke with The Cornell Basketball Blog. "He is absolutely not one dimensional. He's a scorer. He's good off the dribble, in traffic and from the perimeter. He's not a guy that is going to take the ball 94 feet for you, but he knows how to read screens, use picks, plays within the offense and finds his shots. He is just very efficient, he doesn't need many shots to score and he doesn't force things. He's also great at getting himself to the free throw line [when his shot isn't falling] and that is something we are continuing to work on with him." Richards noted that he also watched Cressler play this summer on the AAU circuit.

Richards repeated comments to The Cornell Basketball Blog that he made to the Pittsburgh area media when he described Cressler as unselfish, a tireless worker, and a"gym rat."

"He's a good defender, but that is certainly one of the areas that we are working with him most to improve. We are asking him not only to score, but to not take any possessions off on the defensive end." Richards stressed, "Because Nolan has such great size, he is going to create match up problems on the Division I level on both ends."

A member of the AAU team, the Ohio Basketball Club, Cressler told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on August 18, 2011, "Last year, I was just starting to become kind of a combo guard. Before that, I was kind of just a shooter, and now a lot of people even consider me a point guard, so I think I took my athleticism that I gained and my ballhandling skills that I've been working on, and I really think I became a combo guard, a point guard and a two-guard."

The Pittsburgh Post Tribune noted on August 18, 2011, "Cressler's game has undergone a metamorphosis and is blossoming into one of the better all-around collection of skills one will see in the WPIAL this season."

"I talked to a Division I coach from one of the schools that has offered Nolan and his comments have been right along with what most coaches are saying," said Steve Brodzinski, founder and president of Pittsburgh Basketball Report. "They really like his steadiness and basketball IQ, along with his shooting range. He is a very smart player who can control an offense, as well as play and defend multiple positions." Brodzinski also told NBE Basketball Report, "Cressler is another impressive combo guard with size at 6’4″. Playing for Plum HS, he can really score the ball from the outside, and is able to break down defenders and get to the hoop. He has a nice build and solid athleticism."

Below, a news article published by Bill Beckner Jr. of the Valley News Dispatch and PittsburghLive.com:

Plum star picks Cornell

Plum's Nolan Cressler managed to get out of Ocean City, Md., just before Hurricane Irene made its splashdown.

One might think a summer vacation would be a good time for a Division I basketball prospect to weigh the pros and cons of interested schools.

Thing is, Cressler didn't think much about his future in college hoops during the break.

"Actually, that was the farthest thing from my mind," he said. "I tried not to think about it much. I had just visited four schools in three days, and my head was spinning with information. I was confused."

Cressler saved the final mulling-over of his five Division I opportunities for when he arrived home, and on Monday, the senior made a verbal commitment to Cornell University.

"It's the best fit for me for basketball and academics," Cressler said. "Cornell just felt the most comfortable, and they have a financial package set up so I won't have to pay hardly anything.

"It's been a dream of mine to play Division I basketball for as long as I can remember."

Ivy League schools don't offer athletic scholarships, but Cressler, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound combo guard, has been promised a spot on the team, as well as the financial aid.

Cressler carries a 3.7 grade-point average. Transcripts are one of the first things Ivy League schools take into consideration with recruits.

Cressler also had scholarship offers from Boston University, Holy Cross and St. Francis (Pa.).

Yale, another Ivy League school, also said it would take his talents. Cressler said Yale was in the running until the end.

Plum coach Ron Richards believed Cressler would be a Division I player several years ago.

"A lot of people use the term 'gym rat' to describe kids, but he truly is one," Richards said. "He's done all the

things you have to do to have the (college) options and opportunities that he had."

Cornell wants Cressler as a dual-threat guard.

"They want someone who is going to be able to handle the ball and score," Cressler said. "That's a role I want to play."

Cressler, who spent most of his summer playing for the Ohio Basketball Club 17-under AAU team, will be the top returning scorer in Class AAAA next season. He averaged 25.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and two assists per game as a junior. He has 946 career points.

He will sign with Cornell in November, during the NCAA's early signing period.

Below, a news article published by Mike White in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's sports blog announcing Cressler's commitment to Cornell:

Cressler chooses Cornell

Cornell or Yale? The way Nolan Cressler saw it, how could he go wrong at either Ivy League school?

But he felt Cornell was right.

Cressler, a guard at Plum and one of the top seniors in WPIAL basketball, made a verbal commitment tonight to Cornell. Yale was his other top choice. Ivy League schools don't give athletic scholarships, but Cressler had been recruited hard by both Cornell and Yale and had been accepted to both schools.

Cressler (6 feet 4, 190 pounds) also had scholarship offers from Boston University, Holy Cross and St. Francis, Pa. He told Plum coach Ron Richards Sunday of his Cornell choice. Cressler called Cornell's coaches tonight.

"It was just a perfect fit for me and I think everything just felt really comfortable there," said Cressler, a 3.7 student who visited both Cornell and Yale twice.

Cressler will sign a letter of intent with Cornell in November during the NCAA's week-long early signing period. He was the sixth-leading scorer in the WPIAL last season at 25.5 points a game. He had 46 in one game.

"Why did I choose now? Because it's the ideal situation," Cressler said. "I commit before school starts or before our season starts and I don't have to worry about anything, or talking to college coaches. Probably 25 percent of my summer was spent talking to coaches.

"A lot of people said, 'Don't you want to wait and see if you get anything bigger?' A lot of people thought Boston or Holy Cross was a bigger and better situation. But the RPI of the Ivy League is better than the MAC or the Patriot League. The Ivy League is a pretty high level."

Although Cornell was only 10-18 last season, the Big Red had some top teams in recent years. Cornell won three consecutive Ivy League championships from 2008-10, made the NCAA Tournament every year and made the Sweet 16 in 2010 after knocking off Temple and Wisconsin in the first two rounds of March Madness.

I think it's a terrific fit for Cressler. This is not a knock against him, but he is not a Big East Conference type player. However, he most certainly can succeed at the mid-major level. He has excellent size for a guard and can score in a variety of ways. He can really shoot it, but is athletic enough to sometimes get to the basket. He might not be a slasher and driver at Cornell because it isn't easy to play that style at the Division I level. But Cressler is still versatile. You want evidence? He said he was recruited as a combo guard. He will need to get stronger, but that can come. How well he can defend might be the biggest factor in his playing time at Cornell.

Cressler will be one of two WPIAL players on Cornell's roster next year. Jake Matthews, a Greensburg Salem graduate, will be a sophomore guard. Matthews started 11 games last season at Cornell, but averaged only 1.4 points.

"I think I'll be able to play early and maybe even start all four years in the Ivy League," Cressler said. "I think there is an opportunity there for me to have a great career. Plus, the opportunities I'll get after college, I don't know if I could get anywhere else."
Below, an article by Michael Love of YourPlum.com:

Cressler gives verbal commitment to play basketball at Cornell

A school well known for academics and a basketball team that made recent waves on the national level soon will be the home of one of the area's top basketball players.

After several months of information gathering and discussions with people from family and friends to coaches at different levels, Plum senior Nolan Cressler decided Monday evening to verbally commit to Cornell University.

Cressler said the decision was "one of the hardest decisions of my life," and it came down in the final days to Cornell and fellow Ivy League member Yale.

"I went back and forth a couple of times," Cressler said.

A little more than a week ago, Boston University also was in the mix, Cressler said, and Holy Cross and St. Francis (Pa.) recruited him this summer.

"Cornell stood out as the place I would fit in the best," Cressler said. "It's really exciting. The Ivy League — it's a no-brainer."

Cressler said Cornell has a guard-oriented offense, and he will have the chance to get on the court right away as a freshman.

Cressler said he will make an official visit in a couple of weeks and will make it official during the early signing period in November.

"It's nice to not have to worry about the recruiting part anymore," Cressler said. "Now, I can focus on getting good grades and helping the team this year."

Cornell made three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances from 2008 to 2010.

The Big Red danced its way to the Sweet 16 in 2010 after upsetting No. 5-seed Temple, 78-65, and No. 4-seed Wisconsin, 87-69, in the East Regional.

Cornell's run ended in the regional semifinals with a 62-45 loss to No. 1-seed Kentucky

Cressler finished among the top scorers in the WPIAL last season at about 27 points per game.

Plum won two of its final three Section 2-AAAA games and qualified for the WPIAL playoffs.

The Mustangs defeated Latrobe, 53-51, in a preliminary game before falling to Shaler in the first round.

Plum was a young team in 2010-11, as only one player was lost to graduation.

Cressler enters his senior season with 945 career varsity points.

Above, some twittersphere reaction to Nolan Cressler's commitment to Cornell.

(updated 4.15.12)

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love how athletic our team is getting

Anonymous said...

This is a great signing for both parties. Guys with the shooters' mentality don't grow on trees.

It cannot be overemphasized that another key is that the young man, sometime between now and Fall-2012, adds yet another 10-15 lbs of muscle. The additional durability and stoutness on the court will steady his shot and let him shoulder aside more opponents when chasing down rebounds and loose balls.

Anonymous said...

Two good pickups in a week! Go coach Courtney.

Anonymous said...

Seems like a nice pick-up. Kid is very confident (some might say cocky) as he thinks he may be able to start for four years!

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Not all kids make those kinds of statements in public, but you can bet that 99% of the recruits actually think it.

High school to Division I is a big jump.

Anonymous said...

This kid ain't starting all 4 years.

Two words: Devin. Cherry.

Stump said...

Good job by Coach Courtney, his assistants, and supporting staff (Jay Andrus, etc.) in making this happen. Cornell will be a factor in the Ivies this season and many more.

Anonymous said...

How does this kid stack up next to cancer and cherry? Is he as highly touted as those two?

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Nolan Cressler is a legit D-I player. He had several offers (Holy Cross, Boston U., St. Francis PA, and Yale) before he played a single game of his senior year and might have picked up more offers if he chose to stay open on the market. He stacks up quite favorably to some of the guards taken by Ivy rivals, including by Penn, Princeton and Harvard.

Anonymous said...

At 6-4, hopefully 195-200, he'll be able to play some wing, too.

After watching the Red last year, it became pretty apparent that a successful team must recruit a cadre of players with a proven ability to score. It is a poor bet for fans to hope that a light-scoring, athletic kid from HS suddenly begins to light it up in D-1. There is something about the shot-making ability, the scorer's mentality, and the general court sense that goes with it, that they must bring to college with them.

Good players can learn the defensive tenacity and techniques necessary in D-1 ball after they arrive, but shooting skill is another matter.

Anonymous said...

The CBB has consistently argued that if you are looking for a reliable indicator of whether a player is considered to be a legit D-1 recruit, just look at the total number of confirmed D-1 offers the player received.

However, the "total offer indicator" wasn't so reliable when it came to predicting the future success of several key rotation players on three consecutive Ivy league championship teams, namely: Dale, Foote, Wroblewski, Gore, Tyler, Wire and Jacques, just to name a few. You could probably count the total offers made to that entire group on one hand, yet they consistently beat players on other Ivy and non-Ivy teams who boasted of multiple scholarship offers. And, they all developed differently.

The only reliable measure of successful recruiting is hindsight. However, verbal commitments this time of year do instill excitement, especially for the young man who has worked so hard for it.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Your premise is correct, however, just a point of clarification.

Chris Wroblewski was heavily recruited and had offers to virtually every school in the Ivy and Patriot (as well as teams in other leagues). He chose Cornell ultimately over Harvard.

Chris and Errick Peck were Steve Donahue's biggest recruiting captures in the 2005-2010 time frame. Max Groebe was probably 3rd.

Anonymous said...

And only one of those three has turned out to be a hit (Ski) while the other two keep threatening to be stars but have been painfully unreliable. So, so much for heavily recruited players, doesn't mean they'll deliver.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Hmmm. Go back and lock at E.P.'s numbers. He was just a sophomore and put up some big, big figures.

Basically he was an All Ivy guy who got snubbed.

EP's Ivy-only stats:

11.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 blocks, 24 min/per game, 44% FGs, 38% 3-PT, 67% FT.

With 2 years to go, EP is a POY candidate in the league.

Anonymous said...

This may be the very first time that someone listed in the CBB recruiting news section with some Cornell interest actually committed here.

The jury is still out on Courtney's coaching ability (remember Coach D had about five years in the books before people really paid close attention), but his recruiting acumen seems to be as advertised. Solid recruiting alone will likely keep Cornell top-3 in the Ivy. No transfers so far seem to show that Courtney has a least a decent handle on the team.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

"This may be the very first time that someone listed in the CBB recruiting news section with some Cornell interest actually committed here."

Oh c'mon, that is just wrong. We published info on guys like Shonn Miller and Galal Cancer well before they committed to Cornell.

Keith A said...

Cornell is fortunate to land Nolan Cressler. He is also fortunate to go there. He improved his game since he committed in August. If Nolan had not committed early, trust me, he would have been swamped with D1 offers. A legitimate player. I played 35 years ago and avidly follow high school hoops in Western Pa., write it down now, Nolan Cressler is the real deal.