For Western Michigan recruit Chris Palombizio, the Mid-American Conference has always had a certain allure. His father, Dan, played college basketball at Ball State and he grew up watching the league as a kid in his hometown of Chesterton, Indiana. And before his own recruiting process started, Palombizio would visit the school he would eventually commit to.
Four years ago, when his sister was a student at Eastern Illinois, Palombizio visited Western Michigan with his family to watch his sister Morgan play basketball against the Broncos. While there, his mother said something that would foreshadow Palombizio's future.
"Immediately, when I went there, I loved the campus. And it's only an hour and 15 minutes away," he said. "My mom actually mentioned it. She said this would be a nice school to go to."
As a player, Palombizio is prototypical college wing. He has good size at 6'5", can shoot from most spots on the floor and is a decent finisher inside. At the next level, he'll need to get quicker and develop a better handle with his off-hand to finish inside. But with his shooting ability and the Broncos' having room for improvement from 3-point range, Palombizio should fit in nicely.
He will join a Western Michigan program that is currently on the up-and-up. Although the Broncos lost star forward Shayne Whittington to graduation, the Broncos return most of their key contributors this season and will only lose two seniors after the upcoming season. And with the team coming off an NCAA tournament bid and a MAC regular season championship, the Broncos look poised to consistently complete year in and year out with traditional MAC powers such as Akron, Ohio and Kent State.
"[The MAC] is just so competitive. There's always a new team rising in the MAC," Palombizio told Hustle Belt.
Palombizio did receive some interest early on from Ball State when he was a sophomore, but he said that stopped once the Cardinals replaced Billy Taylor at head coach with James Whitford. That bothered Palombizio.
"Once the coaching change happened, we really didn't pursue it too much," he said. "Ball State is a very nice school and everything. It did kind of bother me that they were looking at me just because my last name is Palombizio. But it worked out. I like Western a lot."
When he gets to Western, Palombizio thinks he'll fit right in. When he sees the Broncos play, he sees a team that plays hard and that's the kind of style he enjoys playing. And although signing day is still months away, he can't see himself changing his mind, even if a bigger school comes calling.
"I don't want to be just another number," he says. "From day one, [the Western coaches] told me they like to battle in practice everyday and I absolutely love that. My first visit there I felt like I was at home. If they were last in the MAC, I'd still go [to Western]."