Vaughn chooses prep school, keeps Gophers in the mix

Rashad Vaughn, one of the nation’s top recruits for 2014, won’t return to Robbinsdale Cooper High School next season.

Wisconsin Playground Elite guard Rashad Vaughn plays at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League tournament Sunday, May 26, 2013, at the High Performance Academy in Eagan, Minn.

Emily Dunker

Wisconsin Playground Elite guard Rashad Vaughn plays at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League tournament Sunday, May 26, 2013, at the High Performance Academy in Eagan, Minn.

Dane Mizutani

Troy Vaughn compares his son, local five-star recruit Rashad Vaughn, to an orange.

He wants to squeeze as much juice, or talent, out of him as possible, and at the moment, Vaughn doesn’t feel his son is being squeezed hard enough.

That’s the main reason Rashad Vaughn won’t return to Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope, Minn., next year. 

A few reports surfaced June 17 that said Rashad Vaughn — the No. 6 recruit in the nation for 2014 according to Rivals.com — will forego his senior season at Robbinsdale Cooper and instead enroll at a prep school next year.

Troy Vaughn confirmed those reports with the Minnesota Daily on June 19.  

“We’ve got a big cup to fill with him,” Vaughn said. “We love it here, but we’re in Minnesota and after a game [when] Rashad ends up with a nice dunk … that guy [he dunked on] wants a picture with him. I’m like, ‘OK, is he really getting squeezed right now?’”

Rashad Vaughn’s longtime mentor Pete Kaffey agreed he needs more consistent competition.

Kaffey serves as an assistant coach at Robbinsdale Cooper, but he’s known Rashad Vaughn since the stud shooting guard was a little kid. Kaffey said their relationship goes deeper than basketball, so it was easy for him to support Vaughn’s decision to pursue a prep school.

“I care about him a lot as a person, because he’s a good kid … and I’ve got to give him the best advice,” Kaffey said. “He’s got to play with and against the best to get better, and we don’t always have that consistency here.”

Troy Vaughn said he’s considered the move throughout the past year. He said his son was initially more excited about the decision than he was.

“I was more selfish on my part at first because I know he’s going to be going to college soon … and he’s a big part of our family structure here,” the elder Vaughn said. “But when we looked at it, we realized that he needed to be in the right environment to succeed.”

Troy Vaughn said they’ve narrowed his son’s list of possible prep schools to four, including programs such as Huntington Prep (W.Va.) and Findlay Prep (Nev.).

Troy Vaughn has spoken highly of Huntington Prep, a program Vaughn has communicated with since the decision process began.

“In our eyes, we have a great relationship with Rashad,” said Huntington Prep head coach Rob Fulford. “We have developed a relationship longer than a lot of other schools.”

“I’ve never lost a kid that I’ve wanted,” Fulford added. “If we want them here at Huntington, we usually get them.”

Fulford said Vaughn has the raw ability to be a special player at the next level, but his work ethic will put him over the top.

“That’s one of the first things he asked me when he got here: ‘How late can I stay in the gym?’” Fulford said.

Fulford seemed confident in his relationship with Rashad Vaughn, but Troy Vaughn said the decision is still a ways out. He said he wants Rashad to focus on his summer basketball commitments now.

Troy Vaughn said his son’s decision to leave Minnesota doesn’t rule the Gophers out as his college choice. He said he loves the direction new head coach Richard Pitino and his staff are taking the program.

“That would be a dream for me that I could watch him in my own backyard,” Troy Vaughn said.

Kaffey also disregarded the notion that Vaughn’s decision to enroll in a prep school eliminates the Gophers from contention.

“He’s going to evolve into something special,” Kaffey said. “That’s why he wants to make this move. He wants to be the best.”