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In the grind

The teen-agers were out full-force, 12 courts packed, at the USJN Premier Invitational in Cincinnati on Tuesday, the first day college coaches were on the recruiting trail.

I was with Purdue women's coach Sharon Versyp, shadowing her for one of the stories for my recruiting package that will publish at the end of the month.

Finally settled into the hotel in Louisville now -- and it's about 11 p.m. The day started at one of Cincinnati's two locations for the USJN tournament at about 8:15 a.m.

We were lucky to get time for a couple food breaks away from the gym, but, wow, still a long and tiring day.

The whole point of doing this story was to be able to get a taste of the grind of July recruiting. I have one more day -- the Fila Derby Classic here in Louisville on Wednesday -- before I get to head back home to Fort Wayne.

The college coaches aren't so fortunate.

Versyp actually is driving from Louisville back to West Lafayette Wednesday night -- probably won't get in until after midnight -- because she's flying out at 8 a.m. Thursday to bounce to Iowa for less than a day.

The coaches typically are on the road recruiting 10 days, then get five off and then are out 10 more until the end of the month.

That hectic travel is just one facet of this month that I find interesting and will be addressed in the story later this month.

But what makes the experience rewarding for coaches is landing prime talent.

When I spotted a standout player from Kentucky sporting a black Purdue cut-off t-shirt before her final game of the day, I pulled her aside to ask what was up.

April Wilson, a 5-foot-6 point guard playing for the Lady Legends 17 team, was happy to oblige.

"I just wanted her to know I'm interested," Wilson said of Versyp. "I really do like Purdue. They were the first ones to offer me, and I think they showed me the most love out of all the colleges. I really like them."

Wilson, a junior-to-be at Manual High School in Louisville, showcased her athleticism, ballhandling skills, a nice stroke and some solid defense in the two games I saw her play Tuesday.

She said she has offers from Purdue, Xavier and Louisville. She'd like to make her decision by the end of the month, maybe see if any other offers come in, but she seemed ready to have the whole recruiting process over.

"It's intense," Wilson said of July. "It's game after game after game. It gets a little nerve-racking when (you see a) coach is here. But you've got to block that out and just play your game and the rest takes care of itself.

"It is a lot of pressure, though. Coach Versyp was first row my first game, and I was like, 'Oh, my gosh.' But my mom was like, 'She already likes you. She already knows what you can do so just play your game.' "

When I asked Wilson if Louisville, being in her hometown, had an edge, she said mentioned Purdue is only about three hours away.

"Purdue feels like home to me," she said. "I think Purdue's where it's at."