Nick Farrar had always heard that the best way to get major attention from Division I colleges was to join up with a shoe sponsored team on one of the three major circuits: Nike’s EYBL, the adidas Gauntlet or the Under Armour Association.
Only, Farrar didn’t want to leave his AAU coach Mike Proctor, who had brought him into his home and treated him like a son from the time the two hooked up when Farrar was in sixth grade.
So Farrar bet on himself and trusted his coach, who told him he was good enough to make it by staying with his local team, the Triangle Flight, which now is Big Shots Elite NC 2020.
And boy, has Farrar blown up.
The 6-foot-6, 230-pound left hander got his first Division I offer from Eastern Kentucky April 16. In less than a month, he’s tacked on offers from Chattanooga, High Point, Houston, Mount Saint Mary’s, Rhode Island, Stetson and Towson.
”It’s crazy how the attention comes so fast,” Farrar said. “Like, I didn’t expect all the colleges to come around this fast, but with the first offer, coaches started coming right away. And then I went to Hoop Group (in Pittsburgh) during the first live period (in April) and I really showed out, that’s when colleges started pulling the trigger.”
Proctor marvels at the relentless manner in which Farrar plays the game.
“I think some people I’ve heard compare Nick to Zach Randolph because he’s left handed. (Team Loaded president) Ty White called him a baby Zion Williamson. I think Nick is incredibly aggressive as a player and has an incredibly high motor, almost to the point you’ll think he’ll fall out from complete exhaustion.”
And the crazy thing is, Farrar is 16. Proctor notes that it’s not too far fetched to think that Farrar could be a high school freshman instead of a junior.
Farrar’s high school coach, PJ Lowman, mentioned the same thing: about Farrar’s age and his playing style.
“Man he can do a lot of things,” said Lowman, coach at Apex Friendship High School near Raleigh, N.C. “You can’t pigeonhole him. What position is he? Does it matter?”
Farrar broke his leg and missed his freshman season. But he became the first-ever all-conference player at his school as a sophomore (Apex Friendship is about to end its fourth year as a school).
Congratulations to Apex Friendship Basketball's first ever All-Conference selection, Nick Farrar @lilslick25 pic.twitter.com/CwrpCbjhTK
— Coach PJ Lowman (@CoachPJLowman) March 6, 2018
Farrar averaged 11.3 points and six rebounds as a sophomore, but Lowman saw big things ahead.
”It was just the transformation of his body,” Lowman said. “We had to stick him around the basket for most of his sophomore year, but as his body changed, he got thinner, way more athletic, and he began to take big guys off the dribble, post up small guys. I mean, if you’re an opponent, who do you guard him with?”
Sure enough, Farrar had the monster junior season his coach predicted: 19 points per game, 9.6 rebounds. In conference play, Farrar raised his game — and his numbers: 22 points, 12.5 rebounds.
And Lowman thinks this is only the beginning.
”I still see his body growing into a more athletic body,” Lowman said. “He’s getting stronger, faster and the kid doesn’t shave.”
Of course, Big Shots director Kevin Schneider has seen Farrar’s development up close. Schneider’s recruiting service ranks Farrar No. 7 overall in North Carolina, and Schneider is beginning to look like Nostradamus, since he’s said for quite a while that Nick Farrar was a big-time star that folks were not paying enough attention to.
”His game is so unique at the forward spot,” Schneider said, “and maybe the most valuable position at the college level, allowing teams (with him) to play small or play big. He creates a mismatch nightmare and continues to show as productive as any player in North Carolina in (the class of) 2020.”
But as good a player as he is, Proctor marvels at how level-headed his star is.
“On the court,” Proctor said, “he’s a street fighter. Off the court, he’s so unassuming. Yes sir, no sir. Thankful. But he has an incredibly high confidence level and he is an absolute basketball dog.”
Proctor took Farrar to Pittsburgh for the April live period and watched his star go for 40 points, 29, 28, 29 and 32 in five games. He got a lot of offers and he got serious interest from N.C. State and Virginia Tech.
With the summer recruiting period just getting underway, Proctor said Farrar is getting everything Proctor had promised — and then some.
And Farrar has been able to do it his way.
”He chose to stay with his team,” Proctor said, “and with people he trusts and you can make that work. It doesn’t have to be where a kid has to play for a shoe team to get great offers. All good coaches will tell you that coaching is about building relationships and not about wins and losses. The great thing about Nick Farrar is he is a relationship guy. They are important to him.”
And Farrar said that’s why he stayed local — and stayed loyal to Proctor.
”I had a lot of teams reach out, but it’s about loyalty to my coach,” Farrar said. “My AAU coach has been a great mentor and great person in my life. He’s helped me through a lot. And I know if I play like I’m supposed to, the colleges will come through and know who I am, as you can tell by the Houston offer.
”I’ve had a lot of kids from Team Loaded and CP3 say, ‘Why don’t you play with us? We’re a shoe team.’ I don’t like shoe teams. They don’t give you a lot of freedom. You’re averaging maybe 15 and 10 and I’m averaging 30. You have so many good players on your (shoe) team and it’s crazy. They all want to score. With us we play together.”
Farrar said he values the ability to practice with a team of local kids, build relationships and learn to play together.
”I like the team ball better,” he said. “There’s more than one way to go to college. I talk to my dad the most and I had to listen to him. He said, ‘If you show out, people will find you. You don’t have to play for a shoe team.’
”Playing for a shoe team gives you national exposure and a lot of people know you. It gives you fans. But if you’re hooping, good colleges know where you’re at. I’m proof. You don’t have to play for big teams to get looked at.
”You’ve just got to play hard.”