Richard Davenport covers recruiting for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He appears weekly on The Red Zone w/ JB on 92.1 FM Fayetteville, The Morning Rush w/ Tye & Tommy on 95.3 FM in Fort Smith; 96.3 FM in Hot Springs; 104.3 FM in Harrison/Mountain Home, 99.5 FM in Fayetteville and The Zone w/ Justin & Wess on 103.7 FM in Little Rock.
The Recruiting Guy:
Scotty Thurman sees other side of recruiting
Romani and Scotty Thurman.
Former University of Arkansas great Scotty Thurman knows the ins and outs of college basketball recruiting firsthand as a player and coach, but he’s in the learning stages of the recruitment of his daughter, Romani, a highly regarded volleyball prospect.
The younger Thurman, 6-0, plays for Little Rock based 16-under Elite Volleyball Academy during the spring and summer and will be a junior at Little Rock Christian in the fall.
The current Little Rock Parkview basketball coach has leaned on friends he met while in Fayetteville for advice about the game and the recruiting process.
“One of them is the head coach at Bradley and one of them is an assistant at N.C. State,” Thurman said. “They were the first ones that told me she had a chance to be a legitimate Division I prospect in volleyball. As for me, I have no idea what that looks like.”
Romani has accumulated scholarship offers from Arkansas, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Kansas State, Texas- El Paso and Arkansas State. College coaches were able to start having direct contact with volleyball junior prospects on June 15.
“She’s probably fielded 40 to 60 calls,” Thurman said. “It’s been a little overwhelming for her, but I think it’s helped her understand this is a big deal. It’s not only big business, but it’s big deal to be wanted.”
Zoom meetings keep Romani and her parents busy. They have participated in Zoom calls with Arkansas, Notre Dame, Kansas State, North Carolina State. North Carolina, Louisville, Columbia, Louisville and BYU. She’s also FaceTimed with Iowa State.
“She’s handling the calls which is beautiful because I just get on the Zooms,” Scotty said.
Romani and Elite Volleyball Academy took part in the USAV national tournament in Las Vegas on July 2-5. She then participated in the prestigious Under Armour All-American Selection Camp the next day. She will attend the USA National Training Development Program in Anaheim, Calif., on July 18-23.
Thurman said his daughter has approached the recruiting process in a very business-like manner.
“She has her little book of what she wants to ask and she’s highlighting questions,” Thurman said. “Doing her research, so we’re just letting her go through that whole process.
He credits Romani’s maturity to his wife, Regina, who’s a physician.
“She’s just a very mature young lady,” he said. “She’s pretty sharp. I guess she gets that from her mom.”
Elite Volleyball Academy director Tanja Eckart said an average approach vertical is 18-19 inches, while Romani’s is 34 inches. Her touch has reached 10 feet, 4 inches which places her in Prep Volleyball’s 10 Foot Club.
Prep Volleyball’s description of the 10 Foot Club reads “It remains a magic number in volleyball today. If you can jump and touch the basketball rim, or higher, you are in rare air.”
“Romani is an extremely talented athlete who possesses [a] great deal of mindfulness in her training while being blessed with raw athleticism,” Eckart said. “This is a perfect combo for an athlete with a ton of potential to develop and reach amazing heights. She is already turning heads of some top college volleyball programs in the country and she barely scratched the surface of her potential.”
In 2019, Thurman was named to the Prep Volleyball Frosh 59 and the 2023 top 175, while the following year she made the American Volleyball Coaches Association 2023 Phenom List. She was named to the Junior Volleyball Association Watch List and All-National Team this year.
The younger Thurman also was outstanding in basketball and track and field but has decided to focus on volleyball. The Thurmans are working on her wants in a school.
“I’m just trying to best educate her and taking the knowledge I have from all those different aspects as a father and as a coach and as a former player and trying to utilize all of the things I can remember, all things I’ve experienced from on the job and just trying to share that with her,” Scotty Thurman said.
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