This is a very important time for HS seniors all over the country. Not only are the great athletes being recruited, so are other HS students who have special gifts. The kids with super grades, the kids with special talent in science and math, Kids in the school band, the kids who exhibit leadership skills, and even kids who are great managers for sports teams or cheerleaders. Yes, the managers on many college teams get scholarships at least as seniors if they do 3 or 4 years as a team manager, Ditto the cheerleaders at some of the larger schools. So please don't frown when your son comes home in 9th grade and says he is in the band, joined cheer leading, or will be the manager of the HS team. Ask Lawrence Frank, head coach of the NJ Nets. I knew him when he was 16 and the manager of the basketball at Teaneck HS. He was really into it and even went to Indiana as a Manager to Bobby Knight and the rest is history!
Basketball wise kids need to understand it is not just the campus and facilities, although they are important. It is the academic offerings, personality of the coaches, track record with similar players, ability to motivate and push kids to excell,and opportunities after basketball is over. What do the kids not playing much say? And finally, why not just stop in unannounced and watch a practice. With that in mind lets look at some of the kids being heavily recruited.
Speaking of recruitment I need to talk Tobias Harris and his family. What an organized team they seem to be. Food menus set, questions in place, an understanding of style they want for Tobias, and even the type of coach they want to see Tobias play for. With that all in place the process will eliminate a few folks off the back, but that will not be announced until later I am sure.
Lets look at the two from last week. John Calipari, a college super star came in and gave a great presentation. Kentucky is Kentucky, a great program no matter who the coach is. Great facilities and even better support. A real pressure cooker regarding expectations of players who often are idolized for years after their playing days are over. One of the few programs that players are almost looked upon as basketball Idols when they walk the street. The question here is will he choose a school that will continue to bring in guys at his position with just as good skills to compete for minutes? Also, will they allow him to play the point forward position when he arrives? But starting his home visits with Kentucky makes everyone coming after step their games up. Not sure if they are doing this, but many tend to have the top school on a list go first so they can do a comparison.
Next up was Georgia Tech and Paul Hewitt. Sincere and polished guy originally from Long Island. And like Coach Cal, a guy who never played D1 basketball but was fortunate enough to go through the ranks and excel everywhere he has been. His accomplishments at Georgia Tech are great, especially considering he has to go against folks with millions of dollars and private jets in the recruitment wars. Maybe Ga. Tech has a similar budget. But as far as I know places like Kentucky, Kansas, NC, Duke, UCLA, the well is never empty or questioned. Georgia Tech will be in the mix for many reasons including Paul Hewitt is loved, not liked, by many folks who know the Harris family well. One guy in particular is a huge fan of both Paul, and Norm Roberts at St. Johns, which is one of the reasons SJU is back on the board. Question here is will Ga. Tech offer same opportunities to Tobias? Will the staff prepare him for the next level? Is the support for basketball what it should be? If those questions are answered with yes, trust me they will be in it until the end and could be a place he winds up at. Academically, an outstanding school. The head coach....A true gentleman who never ever embarrasses kids during a game. A true role model who many would want their son playing for!
Lets look at Notre Dame who is up next. Many of these coaches I know well. Paul Hewitt and Mike Brey are two of those who fall into this category, even though I have not spoken to either in a long time. I need to start with Mike Brey, who to me is an OUTSTANDING PERSON! I know because my son played for him at Delaware. I thank God for allowing my son to play for him the one season he was there before becoming the Head Coach at ND. Mike found time for every family and every player regardless of if they were 1st on the roster or 16th. I still remember watching Mike spend 35 minutes sitting and talking to the parents of a kid who rarely played during a practice just talking about opportunities for the son after basketball career wise. He even got along with me, and that's huge because I was one crazy parent lol. Mike Brey is a GREAT GUY to play for. Not just basketball wise, but also mentally. After leaving the Big 10 school my son attended with a coach who never even spoke with the players after practice or seemed to care (His Son does a much better job) Mike Brey was just what the doctor ordered. Notre Dame is Notre Dame! Tobias at Notre dame could be the best PF since Adrian Dantley or John Shumate. It would be huge. And the ND network is amazing, especially for a star player. Questions here would be development? Will they have a good supporting cast? Can he play point forward? Can they afford to make him a point forward? But one thing for sure, the Harris family could not find a better person for their son to play for than Mike Brey or Paul Hewitt!!!!!!
Not sure what is happening with Kyrie Irving. But it must be nice to have an opportunity to talk to him anytime you wish like Rod Strickland can since he is his God Father and has a long time relationship with the entire family which I think allows him to see the family when he wishes as long as they do not talk basketball recruiting.........yes right lol. This young man who looks like he is 13 but plays like he is 24, will pick the right school. As a student first kid, I am sure Kentucky is really in it based on Rod Strickland. Not that UK is a bad place or lacking academically. But when your dad and mom are successful, you understand the importance of academic excellence more than many others. This is why Duke is such a player for his services. Surprised Stanford is not in there. Looking forward to watching how this plays out.
So Doran Lamb will be meeting with Jeff Capel, The Boy Wonder!! And he really is because he has done more in his short coaching career than manu guys much older. But what do you expect from a Duke player who has a dad who was the head coach at North Carolina A&T and Old Dominion. But getting Mr. Lamb will be hard because I think this guy Book Richardson knows everyone in NYC and as the Assistant to Sean Miller at Arizona, he has opened doors previously closed. When Sean Miller hired Book away from the NY Gaucho's, folks wondered what this would really do for Miller. Well, a few years and two schools later it seems like Miller is a genius for hiring Richardson, who might at the moment be one of the best assistant coaches recruitment wise in America. I think Arizona has a great chance of getting Doran Lamb!
Locally SJU has stepped it up and is very involved with many of the good players. I honestly feel SJU will surprise alot of people this season. They have really worked hard to get the program on the right track and to me they have succeeded. Seton hall will have a hard time this season recruitment wise only because they have so many good players and not because the coaches are not on the job, Kids want to play! They already have a very good player from Paterson Catholic and will get others as well. But it will be harder based on current talent, which often happens when a team is good. Rutgers I am not sure about. Lots still happening regarding the Craig Carter situation, Chandler dismissal (Newark Guys really still upset), and overall team achievements and fan support. Some kids who want a BE team by any means possible might still consider because the storm is over. But the true program changers are looking elsewhere.
This does not mean all 3 teams cannot be successful. It just means some have to work harder in all categories including relations with community folks who often can make or break you! The mid majors need to step their game up. Come on Iona, Manhattan, Monmouth (With the great new facility and closeness to the beach), St. Peters (What a hard job!), etc. Go after those kids and get them signed. And please do not just look at NYC and NJ. Lots of great mid major talent in Westchester County, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Heck even in the Pocono Mountains there are some very talented but unnoticed players lacking exposure. At least last year there were some.
Lastly I keep getting folks emails on the blog and privately asking what's up with FDU. Honestly I think I need to answer that in an entire blog post. But for now all I will say is the following: SC+DB+FI+GM+FS+GP+GCS=S Stay tuned for what the formula means.