Caleb Fields received a scholarship offer from Division I Bowling Green University last week.
It didn’t take him long to consider it.
Fields, a senior combination guard for the Wildwood Catholic High School boys basketball team, made a verbal commitment to accept Bowling Green’s offer during an official visit to the school’s Ohio campus earlier this week.
“The coaches there really made this decision easy for me,” Fields said. “I always wanted something that was going to be like a home away from home and the coaches made me feel like it’ll be home. You can tell they take care of the players and they take care of each other. It’s like family.”
The 6-1 Fields led Wildwood Catholic in scoring last season at 17.8 points per game. He shot 49.1 percent from the floor overall, 38.9 percent from three point range. He also made 77.9 percent of his free-throw attempts.
Fields, who averaged 13.2 points per game as a junior, surpassed 1,000 career points late in the 206-17 regular season. He led Wildwood Catholic to its sixth straight Cape-Atlantic United Conference title last winter and a spot in the CAL playoff tournament semifinal round.
“His work ethic, his discipline and the way he’s developed over the last three years are what have made him a complete Division I player,” Wildwood Catholic coach Dave DeWeese said. “He’s great on both ends of the floor. He can really defend and he can handle the ball and he can score. He’s put himself in position where he can do a lot of things very well and he’s continued to develop his skills to the point that he just keeps getting better and better.”
Bowling Green first showed strong interest in Fields over the summer after his performances with the Jersey Force AAU team. Bowling Green coaches made multiple personal visits this fall to watch Fields work out.
“They were very serious from the beginning,” DeWeese said. “We sent some game film to them and I know they had seen him in AAU over the summer. But their interest really started to peak this fall. There was some talk going around that maybe he was being under recruited and then we really started getting a lot of feedback from a lot of schools. But Bowling Green was very interested in him from the start.”
DeWeese said he had strong feeling Bowling Green would make an offer as they became more familiar with Fields both as a player and as a person.
“One of the things I know they realized right away is how great of a kid he is,” DeWeese said. “As great of a ball player as he is, he’s just as great of a kid and I think that came through right away to anyone who was recruiting him.”
Fields had also received Division I offers from Binghamton and New Jersey Institute of Technology. But once he visited Bowling Green earlier this week, he said he gained immediate clarity about where he wanted to spend his four years of college.
“The campus was big but it was just amazing,” said Fields.
With practice for the 2017-18 high school season commencing this week, Fields said the timing of his decision to choose Bowling Green was perfect.
“It’s just a feeling of relief,” he said. “With my senior year coming up and me not deciding yet things might have been stressful, especially if I didn’t play well. Getting that scholarship offer and committing is a moment of relief and now I can just go out and play my game.”
Fields said he wasn’t sure about his college prospects when he entered high school. His views changed over the past couple of years.
“When I started with the Jersey Force in AAU I was playing against some guys that had multiple Division I offers and I was competing against them and doing OK,” he said. “That’s when I first started thinking I’m good enough to play Division I (basketball), too.”
Bowling Green, located near Toledo, is a member of the Mid-American Conference. The team has started the season with wins in three of its first four games, including Monday’s wild 109-106 overtime win over Lake Erie College, a game Fields attended.
The Falcons’ head coach is Michael Huger. Last season, Bowling Green finished 13-19 overall, 7-11 in the MAC.
— Brian Cunniff