American author Horace Greeley coined the phrase “Go West, young man” after the Civil War to encourage veterans to help settle and colonize the frontier.
Craig Victor is taking those words to heart as he looks to take his basketball career to the next level.
Victor, a 6-8, 220-pound power forward, is moving from New Orleans St. Augustine to the renowned Findlay Prep school in Henderson, Nev. He hopes this move will allow him to continue to develop his basketball talent. At Findlay Prep, he will be reunited with national top-20 small forward Kelly Oubre. Victor and Oubre, a Houston native, are former AAU teammates.
“By me playing in New Orleans, there isn’t that much competition down there,” Victor said. “That’s one of the reasons why I am going to Findlay Prep next year. It will be better competition and on a bigger stage. Back at home, we don’t have that many 7-footers. It’s just a good experience for me to go there and play my last year.
“I come from playing at a high level to going back to New Orleans and being the best player. You can’t progress too much doing that. At Findlay Prep, they have a lot of nice guys. I’m just looking forward to going in there and working hard.”
Findlay Prep was 35-1 this past season and ended up ranked third nationally. Victor also mentioned how Findlay Prep helped develop Anthony Bennett’s game. Bennett spent one year at UNLV before being taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the top pick in this year’s NBA draft.
"That really opened my eyes," said Victor, who is rated as the nation’s No. 36 prospect overall, No. 7 power forward and top prospect in Louisiana according to 247Sports.com.
Playing for the New Orleans Elite squad, Victor was one of the top performers at the adidas Invitational earlier this month in Indianapolis. They will wrap their summer at the adidas Super 64 tournament this week in Las Vegas.
Victor has already enjoyed a strong prep career at St. Augustine. He helped the Purple Knights win a Louisiana Class 5A state title as a freshman. They dropped the Class 4A state title game in his sophomore year. This past winter, Victor averaged 14.1 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocks and shot 60 percent from the field. He was the New Orleans Times-Picayune player of the year and was also named honorable mention junior All-American by Maxpreps.com.
Victor in action at adidas Invitational
He was also a standout at the NBAPA Top 100 camp last month in Virginia. There, he averaged 10.4 points and four rebounds in five games. Victor has shown his versatility with his ability to play on the wing and also on the block.
“It depends on the match-up,” Victor said. “I can go outside or I can play inside. It’s whatever the team needs me to do. I’m not selfish to where I would say, ‘I just want to play on the block.’ Whatever helps us win, that’s what I want to do.”
Plenty Of Options, But Waiting Patiently
Victor has a ton of offers on the table, including the likes of Louisville, Kansas, Arizona, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, LSU, UCLA and Ohio State.
But he is hoping that Kentucky comes through with an offer after this July observation period.
"Even though they haven't offered me yet, I'm looking forward to Coach Calipari coming to watch me play," Victor said. "He came to the school after my high school season (in March) and talked to me, so if they weren't interested he never would've visited. He actually said exactly that on the visit.
"It's every kid's dream to have the opportunity to go to a place like that and play. I just want to work hard and have that type of opportunity. Anyone that's playing this game that doesn't want to make it to the league one day, I mean, I don't even know why they're even playing."
Victor said Calipari used plain language to explain the potential opportunity with Kentucky.
“He said Kentucky isn’t for everyone, which I understand,” he said. “Most guys coming in there are one-and-done players. If you can’t get it done your first year, he also explained that in that second year that group coming in behind you could wipe you out.”
Victor was asked if he feels like he is under pressure to perform at tournaments to earn that UK offer.
“It’s not pressure,” he said. “It’s like if you go to a camp and they tell you, ‘If you don’t play good, you won’t be seen.’ It’s all about competition and competing as hard as you can.”
A reporter asked if a Kentucky offer would end his recruitment.
“I’m not going to say that,” he said. “You have to stay open because you never know what will happen. Keep God first and the sky is the limit.”
He added, though, “That would be an offer I would be looking forward to.”
In March 2012, Victor was on hand in his hometown at the Superdome for the NCAA Final Four. That star-studded event featured four of his top schools in Kentucky, Kansas, Louisville and Ohio State.
“It was a blessing to experience that,” he said.
Regarding his other schools, here are some comments from Victor on what they have to offer:
* On Ohio State: “Ohio State has one scholarship left, I believe. I have been talking to (OSU verbal) D’Angelo Russell. He is going to be the point guard there. I was supposed to go to Montverde or Findlay Prep. D’Angelo and I are pretty tight.
“I like their tradition. I got a chance to see them play when they came to New Orleans for the Final Four. I was rooting for them to win.”
* On Louisville: “They are the champs, man. They just play hard, they get dirty. Everything about them … that’s a family for real. When you look at that team, they’re a family. By dirty, I mean they play hard and get after every loose ball. I haven’t seen them lose a loose ball. That’s my kind of ball.”
* On Arizona: “That would probably be one of the best schools for me because of the simple fact at my position they produce pros every year. They had Derrick Williams, Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and now they have Aaron Gordon.”
* On LSU: "LSU is on the verge of coming up big with Coach Jones there. I played at adidas Nations with Jarell Martin and (LSU signee) Jordan Mickey. Those guys are good players. I think I could help LSU be really special if I went there.”
Victor said he would like to finalize his college choice before he begins his senior year at Findlay Prep.
“If I can’t get it done after Vegas, I will just hold out a little longer,” he said.