Taking a rare break from an unquestionably exhausting summer of AAU play, Larry Bastfield Jr. settled into his seat at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas last July to watch Team USA's basketball team take part in an intra squad scrimmage.
Bastfield was in Las Vegas with Team Melo for the Main Event AAU tournament. Almost every major college coaching staff had representatives on hand for the tournament, but the University of Toledo's coaches had shown particular interest in the 5-foot-11, 178-pound point guard.
So when Bastfield's father, Larry Bastfield Sr., met up with his son at UNLV's arena that day, the look on his face told the younger Bastfield all he needed to know. Toledo had offered a scholarship.
"He really gave me a look, but he didn't have a surprised look," said Bastfield of his father. "He tried to keep it under wraps. He didn't try to get really excited, but he did."
On Saturday, Bastfield finally made it official, offering his verbal commitment to the Toledo coaching staff.
The Towson Catholic star proved himself as a Division I player throughout his junior year, averaging approximately 12 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals per game. A self-proclaimed setup point guard with a deceiving power game, Bastfield helped guide the Owls to a 31-6 record and the MIAA A championship.
Surprisingly enough, Toledo was the only DI scholarship offer Bastfield was seriously considering. Fortunately for him, that offer came from a school that's no stranger to success.
Stan Joplin has guided the Rockets to a 192-136 record and four NIT appearances in his 11 years at Toledo. Last season's team went 14-2 to win the Mid-American Conference regular season championship.
The opportunity to play for a program that is regularly in contention for the NCAA tournament was a major selling point for Bastfield.
"I wanted to be around a winning tradition," Bastfield said. "I didn't want to go to a school that was in a losing situation. [Toledo is] always competing for the MAC championship."
The Rockets lost two senior guards from that MAC title team, and they'll lose another before Bastfield arrives. That open depth chart and Toledo's penchant for producing great freshmen – namely three MAC Freshman of the Year recipients in the last seven years – bode well for Bastfield making an early impact.
"They expect me to come in and compete," Bastfield said. "Kashif Payne is going to graduate. They told me I'll be in the playing group. I'll have to work hard to start, but they have said there will be playing time for me."
Bastfield will have to shoulder a heavier load this winter as Towson Catholic attempts to compensate for the losses of Donte Greene (Syracuse) and Malcolm Delaney (Virginia Tech). But for now, Bastfield's content knowing he'll be continuing his basketball career next year – and getting a free education along the way.
"It was a big relief," said Bastfield of his commitment to Toledo. "[Getting a college scholarship is] what I've played basketball for. I always wanted to not have my mother and father have to pay for my education. This was about hard work."