Dustin Cole, the talented Bonny Eagle High point guard, entertained fans with his play last winter as a freshman.

It was understandable that it wouldn’t be long before colleges showed interest.

After a summer of AAU basketball, where Cole played numerous games at different age levels including as a member of the MB Nation 18-and-under national champions from Maine, recruiters have taken notice.

Cole, 5 foot 9, scored 40 points in one game playing for a 16-and-under team at the nationals.

That interest is certain to grow over the next two years.

Columbia, the Ivy League school from New York, has invited Dustin and his father, Dan, to pay a visit and explore the basketball program.

“They told us they want to start the recruitment process,” said Dan Cole.

The Coles have been in contact with Columbia assistant coach Koby Altman, who watched Cole play in the nationals in Orlando, Fla.

“We did watch him play this summer,” said Altman, “and we are recruiting Dustin.

“We don’t have the ability to go into further details regarding his recruitment as per NCAA rules.”

These days, colleges are offering scholarships to athletes earlier than ever. With competition strong for the top athletes, schools feel being first gives them the best chance of landing a prize recruit.

Athletes can give non-binding verbal commitments to schools, but nothing becomes official until the signing day of their senior year.

Cole averaged 15 points per game for Bonny Eagle last winter and was named to the Southern Maine Activities Association first team.

Cole already has been selected a co-captain of the Scots for next season, with Cole Libby

“A lot of what we do pertaining to our program is based on Dustin and his abilities,” said Bonny Eagle Coach Phil Bourassa.

“Dustin has a very bright future in our program. It says something to the type of athlete he is that a college would already be very interested in him before his sophomore year.”

Bourassa said he’s looking forward to this winter, when Cole will be in a leadership role.

“We have some younger players than Dustin on the varsity and I’ve asked him to show them the ropes,” said Bourassa. “I love Dustin’s game. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Cole also has received recruiting letters from St. Joseph’s University of Philadelphia, Army, Bucknell and nearby St. Joseph’s College in Standish.

Over the next year, his mailbox is likely to be stuffed.

“It’s pretty exciting, that’s for sure,” said Cole about the interest from Columbia.

Cole has worked to improve his overall game.

When he’s not playing, he works out at a gym with a personal trainer.

“I know I need to add more strength,” he said.

After the AAU national tournament ended, Cole needed some down time. After all, he played something like 25 games in 10 days in the national tournament.

It will pick up again shortly with the AAU fall schedule. On Tuesday, he heads back to school.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

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Twitter: TomChardPPH