Zollo gives verbal commitment to WKU after ‘great weekend’

Vinny Zollo/Rivals.com

Jonathan Lintner

George Rogers Clark High School senior forward Vinny Zollo was torn between WKU and DePaul as late as Friday, but he gave his verbal commitment to WKU on Monday morning and put his mind at ease.

What changed so quickly?

“I had a very nice meal at Cracker Barrel on Saturday,” Zollo said. “Nah — just kidding.”

Zollo, a 6-8, 220-pound forward, visited WKU unofficially a number of times, including for Friday’s Hilltopper Hysteria, which he called an “all together great weekend.”

“Really sitting down with coach (Ken) McDonald for a 1-on-1 on Sunday afternoon, right before I left, was just great,” Zollo said. “I had a chance to really discuss his vision for not only me, but the team.

“A lot of things went through my head. I really took the ride home to just clear my head and relax. I decided (Sunday) night with my parents and announced today.”

Zollo originally committed to Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie as a freshman and de-committed as a sophomore after Gillispie’s departure. In that time, Zollo’s family uprooted from Greensfield, Ohio, and moved to Winchester to be closer to Lexington.

Zollo calls his case “really unique” being the recruiting process started before most prospects receive offers.

“Where I come from, not a lot of guys go to college,” he said. “The area I live in now, in Lexington, I couldn’t ask for anything better. A lot of people ask if I regret it — moving at such a young age for this and bringing my family with me — not at all. A lot of of people don’t know where I come from.”

Zollo joins a WKU 2011 class that’s already five players deep. It includes Cezar Guerrero, Derrick Gordon, Nigel Snipes, Deng Leek and George Fant.

Evan Daniels of Scout.com was one of the first to report Zollo’s commitment. Daniels said in his report that “WKU’s recruiting class is likely the best mid-major recruiting class of the year.” Zollo said McDonald’s recruiting over the last few months has been “genius.”

“It’s hard enough for schools to fill six scholarships, but these six guys have all been recruited by BCS schools,” Zollo said. “It’s huge that coach Mac targeted guys that would commit to Western because they all have one thing in common — yes, we’ve all been recruited by big schools — but the value of freshman playing time is huge.

“There’s going to be something special at Western for some time to come.”

Zollo’s commitment puts McDonald in a predicament. The Toppers will graduate four players after the 2010-2011 season, and one scholarship is already open. If all six committed players sign, either someone will lose his scholarship or McDonald will have to depend on another taking an academic scholarship.

Zollo said this situation isn’t something he and McDonald talked about — just that he would sign on Nov. 10, the beginning of the NCAA’s Early Period.

“All I know is that I’ve committed,” he said. “We’ll let the rest work itself out.”