When Quentin Buchman, a senior midfielder at Santa Margarita Catholic, announced a little more than a week ago that he was decommitting from Boston University and committing to Notre Dame, it was both an achievement to celebrate and an excellent illustration of the problem with early recruiting.
“Its exciting,” Buchman said in an email interview. “Knowing I’ll be competing for a national championship every year while getting an amazing degree is unbelievable. Playing for a school that has the community backing and history that ND has is surreal. It’s a family that I’m excited to be a part of.”
Happy to announce that I have committed to play Division 1 lacrosse at Notre Dame. Go Irish 🍀 pic.twitter.com/sXdkl9xLHK
— Q (@Quentin_Buchman) October 4, 2017
Only six months earlier, though, Buchman had changed his college commitment from Bryant University, to which he had committed in the fall of his sophomore year, to Boston U. As he grew and improved, new opportunities presented themselves, and he ultimately made some important decisions — and two difficult phone calls.
“Those two calls to Bryant and BU were very hard,” he said, “especially the call to [assistant] coach [Mike] Silipo at BU, because we have a tight bond. That one really hurt.
“What I learned was that being honest and up front is the best way to handle it all. Coaches might not be happy with your decision, but they will respect it if you are honest with them and show them the respect they deserve. It’s a life decision, not just four years of lacrosse, so you have to explore all your options.”
And that, Santa Margarita head coach Adam Guy said, is an object lesson in the problems of early recruiting. In April, the NCAA essentially outlawed early recruiting, prohibiting college coaches from making contact with a potential student-athlete until Sept. 1 of the student’s junior year. Before that, though, kids were accepting offers and “committing” at younger and younger ages.
“This is what happens with early recruiting,” Guy said in a phone interview, “This is why they made changes. When you’re a freshman, and a college coach calls you and says he wants you there, especially a coach like Mike Pressler [at Bryant], it’s hard to turn that down. And to boot, you’re being told Michigan has all its 2018s locked up, and Hopkins is already recruiting eighth-graders. That’s a big piece of it: ‘Everybody is filling up. Everybody is saying yes to places, I should lock it up, too.’ “
So Buchman did, accepting Bryant’s offer and committing in the fall of 2015, his sophomore year. But he kept improving. His sophomore season — 67 goals, 23 assists, Trinity League offensive MVP and first-team All-County — was even better than his freshman campaign (35g, 27a). Another solid summer on the recruiting circuit prompted the offer from Boston U. So he switched.
“Then he’s a junior,” Guy said, “and he’s improving again — he’s a hungry kid. He has a great summer; he kills it on the Under Armour West team, and suddenly the big boys are calling.”
After scoring 68 goals and recording 17 assists last spring, earning 2017 US Lacrosse All-American honors to go with his second Trinity League MVP award and second first-team All-County honor, Quentin Buchman scored 11 goals and was named all-tournament at the Under Armour Underclass Games last June.
He also performed well at other recruiting events last summer, prompting Recruiting Rundown, perhaps the best known website for tracking lacrosse recruiting, to write that Quentin Buchman “explodes out of his dodge and absolutely brings it with his hands free.” In August, Inside Lacrosse wrote that Buchman “has emerged as one of the elite midfield shooters of the 2018 class and has an arsenal of athletic moves and dodges to consistently get his hands free and be a scoring threat.”
“After the Under Armor Underclass All-American tournament, I had a feeling that things had a possibility to change,” Buchman said. “My recruiting blew up after that tournament.
“I was surprised, but I think I felt accomplishment more than anything. It was more like all my hard work had finally paid off, as top-ranked schools were calling me. I believed I was good enough for those schools all along, and they finally believed it, too.”
That’s a testament to his work ethic. In the two years since his initial commitment to Bryant, Buchman rarely rested.
“The working hard part is just who I am,” he said. “I have always been told to never be satisfied with yourself, because you can always get a little bit better. I kept training and working, because my goal is to be the best I can be. My goal was never to switch schools, but it was a byproduct of my goal to be the best player/person I can be.”
Much of that work came in the weight room, where Guy said the 5-foot-10, 185-pound Buchman developed into a powerful dodger with a hammer of an outside shot.
“Right- and left-handed, he’s fantastic,” Guy said. “With the right hand, it’s a cannon. He shoots angry. He’s using his whole body; he reaches way back; he gets his whole body into it. With his left hand, he’s more accurate. I think he’s technically more sound with his left, since it’s his off-hand, but he has plenty of heat behind it still.”
As a result, Quentin Buchman will enter his senior season with 232 career points and a spot waiting for him at one of the most prestigious universities and lacrosse programs in the nation.
“He is just a very, very competitive, driven individual,” Guy said. “One of the hardest things in coaching is to motivate a kid, to get him to play to his potential all the time, to give maximum effort; 99 percent of the time, I don’t have that problem with Q.”