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Ray Somerville's six collegiate options present him with one major choice, one the Clash debated 37 years ago: Should he stay, or should he go?
The Shipley School senior center recently cut his list of schools to six, keeping in one Big 5 program (La Salle), two regional schools in the same league as local teams (Towson, Rhode Island) and three others that are a solid five-hour flight away: New Mexico, Cal State-Bakersfield and Loyola Marymount (Calif.).
Somerville, who spent his first five years living with his grandmother in California before moving to the Philadelphia area with his father for the rest of his childhood, says he is just as comfortable in any spot with numerous family members on both coasts.
"Distance isn't really a thing because I'm an East-West person," Somerville said. "I'm an independent guy, but I have people on both sides wherever I go."
A 6-foot-10, 240-pound center, Somerville is entering his senior year at Bryn Mawr's Shipley School, which finished runner-up to the Westtown School in the Friends' Schools League a year ago. The late-blooming physical big man isn't an elite rim protector or post scorer, but he's capable in both areas and puts in a strong effort whenever he's on the court.
Somerville played this July with Team Final, picking up the New Mexico and CSU-Bakersfield offers late in the summer, running to 15 the total number of Division I programs that had offered him a scholarship since last summer. He took several weeks after the recruiting session to study for the SATs and see which schools were still recruiting him hard, which ones fit what he was looking for.
"All these schools have good academic programs that I'm looking at that I like," he said, "and they're also the schools that I can see myself staying at for a few years and hopefully developing enough to go on somewhere and play high-level [professional] basketball after I'm there, too."
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Somerville's first scholarship offer came in last summer, from former La Salle coach John Giannini. But new Explorers coach Ashley Howard continued recruiting Somerville immediately after his April hiring.
Howard "wanted to let me know that I was still high on his list," Somerville said. "La Salle has given me all this stuff about making me the No. 1 target, and they think that I'll be the final piece to their program, to be able to take it over the top."
La Salle will be the only one of the final six not to receive an official visit, the weekend-long trips paid for by the college program. Prospects are allowed to take five trips during their senior year in high school. The school's Olney campus is close enough to Somerville's home in Media — "I can come up to La Salle for a weekend, both days," he said, "instead of using one of my five officials for that."