No.1 2016 Justin Lavey talks about committing to Louisville

By Steve Nielsen
Scouting Director - Wisconsin/Illinois

Just as Jeren Kendall (Holmen) did for the 2014 class and Brendan Meissner (West De Pere) in the class of 2015. Justin Lavey (Tremper) has started the train for commitments in Wisconsin’s Class of 2016. Only a few weeks ago, Lavey made his first college visit to Louisville and it didn’t take much convincing for the No. 1 prospect in the state to make his verbal commitment to the Cardinals.

According to Lavey after playing in a tournament at Jim Patterson Stadium, Louisville became a “must have”, and if you’ve ever watched Lavey on the baseball field you can tell in an instant that this kid gets what he wants through hard work on and off the field.Justin Lavey

We first saw Lavey in January of his freshman year (2013) at the Prospect Identification Showcase at Hitters Academy and he jumped out at us as one of the top prospects in the state. Initially ranked in the top five we followed Lavey throughout the spring and summer and after attending the Class of 2016 Top Prospect Games in July, Lavey jumped up to No. 1 in the state and No. 7 overall.

Getting the widespread attention that Lavey had seen it is not surprising that he was the first commitment in the Class of 2016. We caught up with Lavey to talk about what exactly went into the process of choosing the Cardinals.

PBR: What were your expectations about the recruiting process? Was it as expected? Easy/Difficult?

Lavey: Coming into the recruiting process I had many questions. As part of the Hitters Academy I have had exposure to college coaches for the last two years and during that time RJ Fergus has talked to us about the process, which has really helped. I also learned a lot about the process from the college coaches, past players, and current coaches and it helped knowing some key factors about it. I was told by some coaches that I would have the chance to play Division 1 baseball so when the letters and emails started coming it was very exciting.

PBR: When did the recruiting process really start to heat up for you? Was there a particular game or event that you feel turned the corner for you?

Lavey: Everything started to heat up after the Hitters Midwest showcase at Carthage College this past August. With coaches able to work and communicate with us, I really got to hear their interest in me and I got to hear things from multiple colleges. In addition, I went to the PBR Top Prospect Games at UIC in July and from there I was ranked No. 1 in Wisconsin and No. 7 overall for the 2016 class.

PBR: What were you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at?

Lavey: First is education. The main reason I’m going to college is to get an education and Louisville is definitely a place where I would like to get my degree. The amount of things that Louisville does to help their players succeed in the classroom is amazing and it was great to see and hear. Also I was looking for a program that is full of competitors and an organization that has a chance to go to Omaha year after year. Louisville is a program that I know will make me a better player, a smarter person, and ready to move on with my life whether in baseball or a new career.

PBR: Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

Lavey Yes. Ever since I started playing baseball I knew I wanted to go down south to play in college.  I still wanted to be close enough to make it home and have my parents, family and friends able to come and watch me play, and Louisville was a great fit.

PBR: What do you like most about Louisville and what were the key factors in making your decision?

Lavey: Louisville has always been my dream school and when I got the chance to see the facility when we were there for a tournament this past summer, it made me all the more eager to get there.  When I was on my visit everything there just fit me. It was a place I really see myself going to with the schooling, the baseball program and the training. Another key factor was the coaches. The coaches there are the best I could ask for and I can’t wait to get there and learn from each and every one of them.

PBR: What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?

Lavey: A few other schools I had been considering were Missouri, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, and Indiana State.

PBR: What is your best attribute as a baseball player and how does that transfer onto the field for your team?

Lavey: One thing about me is that I am very competitive in whatever it may be. I compete against myself on the field and in the classroom. Although we have to accept failure, I really don’t like losing and I work hard on whatever I need to do to help my team win. I have always played the role of a leader on my past teams and I love being one. 

PBR: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

Lavey: My advice would be to work your butt off because the opportunity is once in a life time and it’s something none of us want to miss. It comes up super-fast and you better come ready to perform because there are a ton of talented players just as eager to play college baseball as you and you’re the only one who can prepare yourself and achieve your goals.

PBR: What do you do in the offseason to keep yourself in baseball shape and prepare for the upcoming season?

Lavey: Hitters has a winter workout program that is a huge part of my off season. The workouts are extremely demanding and help make me faster and stronger. Also we work a lot on fundamentals and we stay on top of our game year round. In addition to baseball, I play basketball for my high school. Basketball helps my footwork a lot and I love the running part of the game to help my cardio. After practices, I will always go in the weight room and do some lifting and forearm workouts because baseball is always on my mind so I prepare all I can for the next season.

PBR: Where do you play in the summer? And what has been your most memorable experience with them?

Lavey: I play for the Racine Hitters Baseball Academy. My most memorable moment with them was the first time I had to push sleds. It really pushed me to my limit and I loved it because RJ Fergus always told us “mind over matter” and that saying never left me and really helped me in the weight room. This program has really taught me the mental side of baseball and to always give 110% in whatever you may be doing and it has helped me succeed immensely as a player and a person.

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