The recruiting circus was just that, a circus.
So with that in mind, La Salle’s Bowdien Derby decided to put an end to the fierce recruiting circuit and committed to San Diego State on Tuesday.
The senior-to-be Derby said he made up his mind Monday night and chose San Diego State because it had every component he was looking for in the school he was looking for: academics, team, coaches, weather, proximity.
Derby, a two-time Star-News All-Area selection, was nothing short of spectacular his junior season, particularly in the season finale against Palm Desert in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs, clocking at 91 mph in front of pro and college scouts. But he was impressive all season long, going 10-1 in 15 appearances with seven complete games, five shutouts and 101 strikeouts and a 0.94 ERA.
That Derby prefers to play shortstop is a testament to his talent. He batted .435 with three home runs, 19 RBIs and 12 doubles. He also earned first-team All-CIF honors in Division 4. He said he would prefer to play shortstop at San Diego State because he feels he “can contribute more that way” but the Aztecs are recruiting him at both positions.
“This year I showed a lot of strength on the mound. I’ll just work my butt off working both positions and wherever they see me fit is where I’ll go.”
Derby had initial offers from Loyola Marymount, Arizona, UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State, but the landscape opened more so after the Arizona recruiter left for Oregon, which then went after Derby.
“All these schools I was talking to for a while,” Derby said. “People were telling me to wait and see what else comes up and if there would be any other offers. I was like, in my mind there are not any other schools that would really change my mind. But I knew I wanted to be close to home. I’m a family man and want to be close to home as much as possible. For me, a two-hour drive is nothing compared to Arizona which was an eight-hour drive.”
Nevertheless, other schools got in the mix: Hawaii, Fresno State, Dartmouth and Azusa Pacific.
Derby said he was flattered that a Pac-12 school like Arizona, and now Oregon, were interested at all, but proximity, coupled with said requirements, would play a big role. That schools put intense pressure on Derby also was a factor in making an early decision.
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“They called me at school every day asking what was up with my decision,” Derby said. “I know it sounds dumb, but it got kind of annoying in a way because it was the same questions all the time, at a point where I just want to commit.”
The recruiting process wasn’t what Derby expected it to be, to say the least.
“I didn’t think it’d be as fierce as it was,” he said. “I thought it was going to be laid back, but the way it worked was some schools said, ‘Here’s your scholarship, we look forward to hearing from you in the next few days’ and for me it was like, ‘Geez, I have to decide in the next few days?’
“These schools call you in the next few days asking what’s going on with your decision. And people were telling me that if you wait long on schools they could pull your scholarship offer, and that really would scare me if that would happen. But I wanted to make the best decision and know which school was the best fit for me.”
Derby narrowed his decision to three schools: Loyola Marymount, UCSB and San Diego State.
“LMU, even with my scholarship, I would have been paying $9 to $10,000 a year,” Derby said. “For me, it was not something I wanted to put through my parents again. They pay $13,000 at La Salle and for me to play at Loyola I didn’t want to leave with $40,000 in school loans after four years. So that cut out LMU.
“With UCSB and San Diego State, it wasn’t about the money. Both were places that we could afford. With the scholarship at UCSB I would have only paid $3,900 a year, and my parents could afford that. At San Diego State all I’d have to pay for was $1,000 for dorms my freshman year only. After that, everything would have been taken care of, so with the last two schools it wasn’t about the money because both were very, very affordable. It was about which had the best fit and San Diego State offered everything I was looking for in a shcool.
“Even if I were to receive another offer from another school, I would still love San Diego State. I love the city, the weather, the team, the school, the academics,” Derby said.
Derby added that San Diego State coach and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn would be calling soon, that a prior engagement in Cooperstown to attend the Hall of Fame induction of a friend kept him busy.
Derby has one request, though.
“That (Gwynn) and the recruiter would come to La Salle on signing day at La Salle,” Derby said. “The recruiter said that wouldn’t be a problem, as long as it’s not against NCAA rules.”
“My goal is to get an education because a college education is very important in my family,” Derby said. “My second goal is I want to get to Omaha and play in the College World Series and my third goal is to get drafted high enough and play in the pros.”