As a sophomore with offers from top college basketball programs, A.J. Hoggard knows he's ahead of the recruiting curve.
Now the aim is to stay there.
The Archbishop Carroll guard has emerged as one of the best prospects around for the Class of 2020, and college coaches are taking notice.
After a strong performance at the Victor Oladipo Skills Academy in Dematha (Md.) in July, Hoggard picked up his first offer, from UConn. In the weeks leading up to this high school season, both Rutgers and Seton Hall followed suit.
"It's just letting me know that the work I started off with early is paying off just a little bit," he said at the recent Jameer Nelson Classic at Jefferson University. "I've still got a lot of work to do, but it's paying off, and I like the direction I'm going in right now."
A 6-foot-2, 175-pound combo guard, Hoggard is a capable and confident ballhandler who can score from all three levels, displaying terrific body control and court vision on the way to the hoop.
Through the first 10 games of the season, he's averaging more than 15 points in eight appearances, and he's quite capable of filling up the rest of the stat sheet. Hoggard had seven rebounds and six assists in a win over Shipley late in December, an effort that's becoming more the norm than the exception.
The college interest is already piling up. In addition to his three offers, Hoggard is hearing from a list that includes La Salle, St. Joseph's, South Carolina, Xavier and more. Once rising juniors can finally start hearing from schools directly on June 15 — previously, college coaches have to contact the coaches or parents, though players can initiate some contact with coaches — Hoggard's phone is sure to be a busy one.
As Hoggard hears from a new school, he said, he Googles to find out more about the coach, the players and the program.
Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk has coached plenty of Division I talent in his 15 years at the Radnor school. Hoggard has a chance to wind up his brightest gem yet. And that's no small feat, considering some of Romanczuk's players went to the NBA.
But that's never a guarantee for someone who is only barely old enough to drive, and Romanczuk knows he needs to stay on top of Hoggard to make sure the young ballplayer fulfills the early promise he's shown.
"He's got to make sure he doesn't get complacent with how good he is," Romanczuk said. "Those types of talents at times get bored. It sounds awful, but that's the case. You need to try to keep their competitive juices however you possibly can, and that's what sets apart the real special ones. Their work ethic is tireless. A.J., I think he knows he needs to get better at that."