Robbinsdale Cooper High School boys' basketball coach Steve Burton is convinced Cooper is still the best place for Rashad Vaughn.
Burton had heard rumblings of the possibility of losing his star shooting guard to an out-of-state prep school. Those rumors went public Monday morning when it popped up all over Twitter that Vaughn would not return to Cooper for his senior season.
The coach assumed it was probably true, but wouldn't confirm it to others until he spoke with the Vaughn family.
Burton said Tuesday that he is understanding of the family's decision and will support it. He would still like an opportunity to speak with Vaughn about the move and wish him well.
"I still think Cooper would be the best place for him and I'm not going to waver from that," Burton said. "It's bigger than just basketball. It's about relationships and the students, and that's going to be a loss."
Vaughn, who is the No. 11-rated player in the country by ESPN, is considering Huntington Prep (W.Va.), Findlay Prep (Las Vegas), La Lumiere (Indiana) and Prime Prep (Texas), according to his mentor, Pete Kaffey.
Burton had begun protecting Vaughn since the rising star began attracting attention from outsiders interested in his talent. He limited the contact others had with Vaughn throughout the high school season.
During the offseason, though, Vaughn was more accessible to other basketball influences and a year ago the idea of transferring to prep school was brought up. Burton was able to keep Vaughn around for his junior season. But the lure of improving against better competition and a national-high school schedule eventually pulled him away.
Earlier this spring Vaughn showed his willingness to leave Minnesota for other basketball opportunities when he joined Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Playground Elite in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League. Other top local players, including Tyus Jones (Apple Valley) and Reid Travis (DeLaSalle), played with the local Nike team, Howard Pulley.
Burton said he is concerned that Vaughn might receive backlash for his departure from Minnesota basketball. He said the family's intentions are good, though.
"As a fan base, and as a school, and as a community, I can see where people would ask the question, 'What is it about Minnesota that isn't good enough?" Burton said. "In making a decision like that, they are going to have to deal with the fallout. People will feel like they jumped ship."
The Cooper coach will try to avoid such situations by explaining to his players and fans that people move on in life.
Athletic director John Oelfke said the program will really miss Vaughn, but Cooper basketball has built a solid foundation and will get itself together.