Outside The Lines
I hope everyone watched Outside The Lines on ESPN. If not try to catch this past weeks repeat when it comes on. They did a great story on how HS and Travel Team coaches are competing for kids, and who actually is controlling recruitment and basketball decisions.
Great program that brought up some interesting topics. Showed Nick Irvin, one of the sons of legendary Chicago basketball power broker Mack Irving, coaching HS basketball. Seems a potentially great player transferred from another Chicago HS to Nicks school right before the playoffs started. Interesting that this kid also competed in the summer for the Irving Families AAU/Travel Team. UMMMMMMMM! Nuff Said!
They also had 3 guests in the studio including the HS Coach at Labron James old HS, John Baeline of Michigan, and our own Gary Charles sitting with a hat on his head and a frown and serious look on his face.
The topic was who is at fault? All three gave great answers but John Baeline is definitely a high profile coach now as he seemed to be very careful with his words because he did not want to piss off from the travel team or HS community. Boy was it different seeing him like this compared to how he was at LaMoyne, Richmond, and even West Virginia.
The HS Coach, who I remember being a big Sonny Viccaro guy years ago, also walked the fence. I am sure he remembers how he got to where he is and I would bet he is still involved with Labron in some capacity.
But the guy with the Hat and frown made the most sense as usual. Gary Charles, despite the frown and Hat indoors is one of the true good guys. He also is a professional who works as a bank Vice President during the day. Gary said the new term is grass root basketball. He also mentioned that yes HS coaches should have a say but so should the guy who worked with the kid from when he was in 7th or 8th grade. The HS coach gets the finished product in most cases and only has to do a tune up on the kid was the point he seemed to be making. I think he is correct and on point. Every HS Coach is not making players great. Many kids show up as 9th graders with great potential.
I also think there is a role for everyone. But there are some bad AAU/Travel/ Grass Root folks working with kids. But there are also some horrible folks coaching HS and even College basketball who could care less about players.
Some kids would never get exposure if they did not play summer travel/Grass Root basketball. For every HS coach who works hard to get his or her players into college at the D1, 2, or 3 level there are 5 who do nothing. In fact NYC still has that dumb rule that a coach has to be a NYC Teacher to coach. Because of that we still see many schools with coaches who know nothing about basketball. I still go back to that HS game I saw in NYC many years ago where the coach read the NY Times during the game and the other coach socialized with other teachers sitting behind the bench. In Northeast Pennsylvania I see very good HS coaches WHO DO NOTHING for players after the season in regards to colleges or exposure. But most are very good x and o guys.
On the other hand there are few travel team/grass root guys who would not welcome an opportunity to call and talk basketball with anyone, especially a college coach. So when it comes to pushing players, these guys get it done. Unfortunately some make deals on the side. Others use the time to network for jobs in coaching. And others make money based on running events and getting sneaker deals although most of that money has dried up in recent years. Guys like Jim Salmon in NJ, Gary Charles in NYC, and even Kyle Lowery's Brother in Philly, most likely spend more money out of their pocket than they bring in. Jim runs alot of events to support his program. It is like a full time job. But I would bet his financial rewards are nothing compared to the satisfaction he gets seeing kids go on to college and become successful. Ditto Gary Charles, despite the frown and the hat!
Local College Teams
Not trying to be controversial but I honestly think this season we will see alot of improvement on the college level with some local teams. In fact one local team could be outstanding if the players get along and jell. Another will be much improved and surprise people. However one local team in my eyes is in a holding pattern and would need a Rick Pitino Providence College type transformation to be better. Either that or play NJIT 4 times, St. Peters twice, play home and home against Delaware State, play St. Francis of NY, and St. Thomas Aquinas of Rockland County. But even that schedule could be a hard one if players are not focused and show dedication and improvement.
Recruitment of Area Players
Looks like the area kids are again looking at the same programs to attend in upcoming years. It is becoming harder and harder for programs to convince local kids to stay home. Kids are going away to find the programs of their dreams. If you look at where kids are considering, many are only listing some local schools as a courtesy. These kids talk all the time and they know what is happening on every campus. NUFF SAID!
Will A Local College Team Ever Make The Final Four? Who has the best chance?
My answers later.