Georgetown Prep guard Billah Abdul-Jalaal insists it is merely coincidence.
The rising senior and longtime Stanford University fan, played last summer for the Virginia Cardinal AAU team, which shares its nickname with the Palo Alto, Calif. university.
Now, Abdul-Jalaal is trading one Cardinal for another.
He's participating in a academic program in Palo Alto this summer. Abdul-Jalaal, who wants to be a doctor, is taking college courses in human physiology and Latin. He’s hoping that acing the classes would give his application to Stanford a huge boost.
But the downside is Abdul-Jalaal would also consider a basketball scholarship to a lower-profile school, and by attending the Stanford program he’s missing Georgetown Prep summer league games and AAU tournaments that are a key part of the recruiting process.
“I’m all about whatever kids’ dreams and goals, we just try to support it,” Georgetown Prep coach Herb Krusen said. “Obviously, it’s a big loss, but at the end of the day, summer is summer.”
Abdul-Jalaal doesn’t have any colleges actively recruiting him yet, and though Krusen said the guard would be a “terrific player on the college level” and a Division I player in the right situation, Krusen expressed concern about the lack of exposure Abdul-Jalaal is getting this summer.
But Abdul-Jalaal considered the decision from all sides, opting for the Stanford program, even if he realizes it is risky for a basketball player still searching for a scholarship offer.
“Most kids would not,” Abdul-Jalaal said. “I thought every day about what I’d be missing, but honestly, I don’t think I’d be missing that much if I played over there, too.”
He hopes to play pickup games with any Stanford basketball players still on campus, and he’s looking into joining a California AAU team. If all goes well, a Stanford coach will notice him, opening the door to a potential walk-on opportunity.
“If I’m over there, working with the coaches right there, they’ll remember me,” Abdul-Jalaal said. “They might look me up.”
And if that doesn’t work, Abdul-Jalaal will at least get to experience college life at what he called his “No. 1 school.”
“I’ve always to wanted to go to Stanford since I was younger,” Abdul-Jalaal said. “If I don’t go to Stanford, at least I’ll have college credits. It will look good, and I’ll be able to work out, work on my game still over there.”
Knowing the potential recruiting downside, would Abdul-Jalaal have participated in a similar program anywhere else?
“I would’ve considered a lot of other schools, too,” Abdul-Jalaal said. “But this one was the best school.”