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Jay Simpson, a former Champaign Central High School and Purdue basketball standout, writes for The News-Gazette. He can be reached at jsimpson@news-gazette.com.

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Looking back on my recruitment, it sure was a fun time.

Even though I committed at an early age, I enjoyed it all. Of my visits to schools other than Purdue, the one that stuck out the most was Ohio State.

When I first arrived on campus, I noticed how big and beautiful it was and immediately started to compare it to Illinois. In fact, that’s who Ohio State’s football team was playing later that evening.

After a campus tour, we went to the arena to meet coaches and players. The first person I saw was coach Thad Matta, and we talked about my family and Ohio State’s campus.

Then we went to the practice courts to play pickup. I remember Jared Sullinger and David Lighty destroying everyone and winning almost every game.

Then it was on to my favorite part of the visit: the football game.

Walking through the tailgates, I saw a lot of friends from back home who were there supporting the Illini. Of course, they had a lot of jokes for me after seeing me with the Ohio State coaching staff, but it was all love.

When we got inside Ohio Stadium, they took us on the field and that blew me away. I had never been that close to the teams before, and they just let us roam the sidelines.

I got to shake Terrelle Pryor’s hand before kickoff. At the time, he was my favorite player, so you can probably imagine how excited I was as a 14-year-old.

To the youth dealing with recruitment, enjoy the process and don’t rush it.

If I could go back in time, I would just enjoy it a little bit more. Not saying I wouldn’t have chosen Purdue still, but at least I would have given myself more to choose from.

I went with the first place that fit me. I will encourage my children to weigh out all of their options and then choose the best fit.

Jay Simpson writes for The News-Gazette. His column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. He can be reached at jsimpson@news-gazette.com.

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