After a year away from the Nike EYBL circuit, Cassius Stanley is back playing for a team sponsored by Russell Westbrook - Team WhyNot.
Stanley is soaking up as much as he can from the still-reigning NBA MVP as he plays his final summer on the circuit before heading off to one of the six colleges he's considering.
"He came to our Atlanta session and was with us basically the whole weekend," the 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Sierra Canyon (CA) said of Westbrook. "It was just really cool to talk to him and interact, pick his brain during the game and see what he's seeing."
Westbrook gave Stanley some advice on where to attack from on the floor.
"On the court, he was telling me to limit my space, what area I want to be attacking from," Stanley said. "He basically said to limit it to the middle of the floor. That was good. I took that advice from him on the bench and utilized it in the game and saw instant success."
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Stanley hopes to carry that success into EYBL Session IV this weekend in Hampton, Virginia. Team WhyNot is 5-7 and needs to go at least 3-1 to qualify for Peach Jam July 11-15.
"I think it's super important [to make Peach Jam], especially us being a first-year program," he said. "This year if we make Peach Jam it sets a precedent for the culture and how we do things at Team WhyNot."
Stanley returned to the EYBL in part to get "one more shot" at winning Peach Jam after his Cal Supreme team lost in the final four in 2016 to a Mokan Elite team led by Michael Porter Jr. and Trae Young, both projected top-10 picks in the June 21 NBA Draft.
Watching the careers of Porter Jr. and Young inspires Stanley about his future NBA dreams.
"Yeah, it definitely does," he said. "Those two examples are crazy because it was two years [ago], and everything can change in two years if you just stay on the right course."
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On the recruiting front, Stanley recently trimmed his list to six schools, including four from the Pac-12 and two from the Big 12: USC, UCLA, Arizona, Oregon, Kansas, and Texas
"That shows how strong the Pac-12 is in my opinion, so that was big," he said before breaking down each option.
"USC, they're pitching the hometown schools, same thing as UCLA," he said. "They're just saying, 'Stay home, be the guy for Los Angeles and be the premier guy for Los Angeles basketball.'"
The Trojans are already rolling in 2019 with the commitments of big men Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu, with whom Stanley is friends.
"Yeah, we're all friends in the basketball community," he said. "I was just talking to Isaiah's teammate and he said, 'Isaiah and Big O are probably going to start coming at you hard to get you to come to USC.'"
He added: "I think it could be really cool. They're two high-level bigs and I think that would just be really cool if we could all make it work and have fun and try to win a national championship for L.A."
"They're saying, 'You live 15 minutes away from here, you're comfortable here. You know a couple of players who are there now and are coming in the future so it would be a smart move if you came,'" he said. "I think the same actually."
Stanley knows Cody Riley, now at UCLA, and Moses Brown, Shareef O'Neal, Jules Bernard, and David Singleton from the 2018 class.
"I know a lot of the guys," he said.
"Arizona's been kind of quiet lately, but they'll text me sometimes and just let me know they like my game, they would really like it if I came," he said. "I talk more to Brandon Williams, who's committed there. He's a good friend of mine. He's telling me that I need to have them as my first visit. He's telling me really give it a fair shot and he's actually helping me a lot with the recruiting process because he had to do it twice and a couple of the schools that are my list were on his, so he's giving me good feedback."
"Bol Bol is a good friend of mine, so he was telling me that I should definitely put them in my top six," he said. "I just want to see how he does this year. I want to see what his take is because I think that can help me a lot. I just would like to see how his take is."
"They're always texting my dad and me," Stanley said. "Coach [Kurtis] Townsend is always sending things about Kansas and videos. I think the history of that program is unprecedented so I think that's just a big thing that they're telling me, 'Come to a program that has a great history.'"
"They came to school a couple times and they're just telling me they really like my game and they like how I get everyone going, facilitate," he said. "I've talked to coach [Shaka] Smart a couple times and he's a really great dude."
Stanley plans to take his official visits "in the beginning of my senior year," and his father, Jerome, an NBA and NFL agent, expects Cassius to decide by the November signing period.
"We want to wait until school starts and then we'll take the official visits," Jerome said. "And then we'll get to making a decision and we'll have it done in the early- to mid-part of the fall semester. It will be long done by December."