Canadian sprint star Andre De Grasse has a summer of decisions ahead of him.
The 20-year-old from Markham, Ont., who has made a meteoric rise up the world rankings this season, hasn't decided whether he'll return for his senior year at the University of Southern California or turn professional.
His Canadian coach Tony Sharpe has been fielding calls from agents, and a source told The Canadian Press that De Grasse has been offered a seven-figure shoe deal.
"I'm still discussing that with my coaches," De Grasse said on a conference call Thursday.
"I believe it's best that he stay (in school) because he's so new," said Caryl Smith Gilbert, his USC coach. "But we did talk about it, the other side of things, and ultimately it's up to him and what he wants to do."
De Grasse, who was first spotted by Sharpe at a high school meet three years ago in Toronto, has reeled off one eye-popping result after another this season. He broke the Canadian record in the 200, and became the first Canadian since Bruny Surin in 1999 to dip under the 10-second mark in the 100.
Last weekend in Eugene, Ore., he blew away the field in both the 100 and 200 metres — which were less than 45 minutes apart — at the NCAA championships.
While his times of 9.75 and 19.58 were both wind-aided, being slightly over the allowable 2.0 metres-per-second tailwind, they rank as the fastest wind-aided times in the world this year.
Now he has his sights set on next month's Pan American Games. No Canadian has ever run both a sub-10 and a sub-20, and — if the conditions are right and the wind is legal — De Grasse could do it in the same meet.
When asked about pressure, De Grasse said there's none.
"Naw, I don't have any pressure in this sport, I'm just having fun," he said. "And coach Caryl tells me that all the time, just go out and have fun. Winning is fun to me."
A month after Pan Ams, he'll go up against superstars Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin in the 100 metres at the world championships in Beijing.
"I feel like I can be competitive with these guys," De Grasse said. "I've just got to put my mind to it and feel confident that I can go out there and beat these guys and I can't be afraid of them just because they're gold medallists. I have to go out there and try to make a name for myself as well."
He'll also take aim at the 16-year-old Canadian record of 9.84, shared by Surin and Donovan Bailey.
De Grasse won't run the 200 at the world championships, coming at the end of a very long season. Smith Gilbert has taken a patient approach with the young star this season — which makes his times even more remarkable. The coach leaves the impression that the Canadian is nowhere near at his best.
Because he's young and relatively new to the sport, he only trained at 70-75 per cent of what Smith Gilbert considers a full load, she said. In the gym, the focus was on lifting properly rather than lifting max weights. Moving up to heavier weights will improve his power and strength coming out of the blocks, she said.
Despite all his success, Smith Gilbert said De Grasse's persona hasn't changed at all.
"Andre drives me nuts, he has not changed," she said. "He's still way too laid back, but I like that, that's what makes him not get so tense all the time."
She hasn't changed her approach to coaching him.
"I'm still going to yell at him, and I'm still going to tell him he's slow," the coach said, laughing. "I kinda always joke with him and say 'That was the worst 9.75 I've ever seen.'
"I never let him believe it was the perfect race or the best race, because I just believe that there's always something he could do better and you always strive for excellence. That takes the pressure off of him if I tell him 'That wasn't that fast, you can do this.' That makes him feel better and we can keep moving forward."
De Grasse, who is still taking classes and so plans to stay and train in Los Angeles for the summer, said his fast performances last weekend were slow to sink in.
"My phone is still blowing up," he said. "And honestly I was just in a lot of shock, I was looking at the times, and was like 'Wow, that's unbelievable.' I know coach Caryl told me I could run that time, but at the same time, I was like 'Wow' I still didn't believe it. I thought I was in the dream, it felt unreal.
"I'm just happy I got off the double and I'm hoping that I can do something like that again, something spectacular."
Bolt holds the world records in both the 100 (9.58) and 200 (19.19).