DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — Gavin Coone had no idea how this might play out. How does someone even approach recruiting during a global pandemic?
With his school closed, the Walton High senior decided to be proactive, picking up his phone and starting down through his digital rolodex.
Just one week into his sequestering, Coone had a full-ride scholarship to Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kansas, which he accepted Saturday.
His initiative paid off quite literally.
"It’s a relief, really, ’cause I got offers from other schools and just figuring out that (Fort Scott) was where I wanted to go is a big relief," Coone said. "I didn’t have to worry about deciding and all that, plus I got a full ride and I’m not having to pay any money. That was the main thing, not wanting to take out student loans."
Coone first got in touch with Fort Scott coach Michael Cook this past December through his recruiter. He said he and Cook, entering his 13th season as the Greyhounds’ coach, hit it off immediately but fell out of touch as Coone’s senior season wore on.
"I guess we just lost contact and he thought I just wasn’t interested anymore," Coone said. "The offer came up like three weeks ago and he talked it over with me, offered me the full ride, and I just took it because it was the best opportunity."
Coone said he even had a visit scheduled to meet his new coach in person until the pandemic put a kibosh on all recruiting visits across the country, though that didn’t stop Cook from showing Coone around.
"He’s sent me pictures and videos of the gym," Coone said. "I liked all that. And I guess me and him just connected more than I did with other coaches. Some coaches I would text or be on the phone with and that just didn’t really feel like a connection, but with coach Cook I felt a connection right off the bat."
In Coone, Fort Scott is getting a versatile 6-foot-6 wing who averaged 12 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game this past year, helping the Braves reach the District 1-4A semifinals.
He said he plans to study either business or sports medicine with an eye toward staying close to the game when his playing career comes to an end.
But in the meantime, Coone said he’s focused on improving, so he can continue that career when his two years in Kansas are spent.
"A dream of mine has always been playing college ball, and now that I’m here I think it’s a big accomplishment for me and my goals that I’ve always dreamed about doing," Coone said. "I’m super excited."