Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday, January 7, 2012

College Basketball

Ok the huge news all over the NY Tri-State Area is the verbal commitment of  Aquille Carr, a 5 ft 6 Jr. from Baltimore Maryland. Please allow me to tell you what I know and have heard about this young man. This kid is a true winner who makes everyone around him better. This kid will put people in the seats. This kid is exciting. This kid competes. And finally this kid will be the backbone of the SHU Recruiting class of 2013 by attracting other kids to South Orange based on the respect many have for him.

Now many will argue that at 5 ft 6 just how much can he accomplish? Well I say check him out against very good HS competition similar to what he faced last season and this season thus far. Trust me, and this is not a knock, he is not Pokey Wiggiton (sp....sorry Pokey).  This kid could be Calvin Murphy for Seton Hall without leading the nation in scoring or being a close second.  Being from Baltimore is different than being a great player from Beverly Hills HS, in Beverly Hills California.  Just getting to school on a daily basis often takes heart on the part of a student in certain areas of America. Playing games in a tough summer league and HS league also is different than playing summers in the Franklin Lakes  Summer Rec League or even the Teaneck Summer League, which I love and adore. In other words the toughness is there!

Please understand that division 1 basketball takes serious mental and physical toughness along with skills and desire for players to be successful. This is why many kids we all know who can shoot, pass, dribble, and win skill contests are not D1 players. They often miss having the other qualities I have mentioned. Aquille Carr has everything necessary except the height that we always look for in the sport of basketball. But his huge heart and desire make up for his lack of height.

Now lets break this recruitment thing down. And honestly I am not busting any bubbles on this. Division 1 recruitment in a very complex thing. High majors such as Seton Hall, Rutgers, and St. Johns have to be on their A game all year long evaluating and recruiting players. Mid major programs such as lower A10, CAA Schools,  and a few MAAC programs need to be standing close by. Low D1 schools along with many D2, D3, NAIA, and JC schools are almost wasting time recruiting players in the summer and fall. Why? Because 90 percent of kids on teams think they are high D1 players and only face reality when they have no high D1 offers in April of their senior year.  Coaches from those type of schools would be better off just attending games and speaking with HS Coaches, and people in the stands who know players. I oftem smile when I see the coaching staff of local D3 schools out in force going after kids. They might as well stay home because these kids are not ready for them at this point! This brings me full circle back to Seton Hall and the recruitment of high major players by them, Rutgers, and St. Johns.

High Major recruitment starts with deciding who to realistically go after based on talent, program need, and honestly who  players are associated with. I know folks are wondering what I mean by "who players are associated with?"  Well, some kids are associated with people who steer players based on numerous factors.  You people know what I am talking about! You can even predict where some kids will wind up based on past relationships many coaches have had with friends of the players being recruited and this has nothing to do with anything illegal. Stevie Wonder knew Michael Gilchrist was going to play for Coach Cal even if he was at FDU! Writing was on the wall very early based on friendship between The Gilchrist camp and The Coach Cal camp. Again nothing illegal here just a trust factor maybe.

Before anything is done thousands of kids are recommended and observed at camps, AAU tournaments, and in local leagues.  Some kids based on AAU affiliation are recruited higher than others. Check out an AAU tournament and see which teams the Coaches are watching. On courts 1 and 2 the stronger teams are playing and on courts 3 and 4 you have the teams with the hard working non D1 kids playing in front of family and friends hoping to get a sniff from a D1 program .

After the player to be recruited is identified the next step is to get that player interested in your program.

Interest letters are sent out as early as players are identified. This can happen when a kid is in 9th grade. But there can be no official contact. Please note I said no "Official" contact. Kids reply with schedules and personal info which is stored in a very sophisticated data base often including other information gathered from talking to people. Things like parents occupation and education level, siblings names and athletic potential, influential people in the players life, Grand Parents names and closeness to the player, favorite food, girlfriends name, best friends name, and much more.

In between all of this calls are made to people coaches trust for more information on a particular player. It could be a guy like Tom Konchalski, Rob Kennedy, Steve Keller, Ed Butler, Rebel (NYC), Nate Blue. Jim Couch, or even a local low major  D1 coach who might have seen the player and could provide some insight.

Using this information and schedules players are observed,

After that you need to be visible at games the player is playing both in the summer and during HS open gyms and actual games. Heck I have seen some coaches now sit right behind a teams bench.

Than there is the establishment of great, not good, great communication between an  Assistant Coach, determined by actual connections to people in the players circle and community, and a player. This is done to establish a true comfort level.

Next is to involve the Head Coach more in the recruitment process if the HC has not been the lead recruiter from the start, something many of the more dynamic and younger head Coaches already do.

Next is to get them to agree to visit your campus.

Than it is back to staying visible.

Than it is to get a verbal commitment

Next is to act like you just signed the next Michael Jordan

Next is to stay on this kid as if you are re-recruiting him because any slip and bang.....he re-opens his recruitment.

For a Jr., this is a long and tedious process because many college programs are grimy and could care less about a verbal commitment.  HS Coaches are even often offered jobs at a college that the Head Coach is a friend of the Coach at the school attempting to steal the player away from. Of course the next time around it is done opposite. Called keeping it in the family!

Now after re-recruiting the kid until national letter of intent day where he and his parents sign the dotted line, coaches have to re-celebrate getting the official signed document and commitment.

It is not over yet!  Now the process is making sure the grades are right, in most cases at least (smile). I hear a certain school has really relaxed the admission requirements. Hope the kids recruited can keep up.

And last but not least is Coaches have to get the kid on campus and enrolled as soon as possible. Even if it's  summer school, to lock in the commitment.

In the case of Aquille Carr, the recruitment process is far from over with his commitment to Seton Hall. Will it stand? In most cases it will. But knowing what I know about Baltimore politics and other colleges and universities, Seton Hall has to stay on top of this until he signs his LOI .

I end this by saying Kids like this want to make a difference. He is not even thinking about comp at his position as much as coming and doing his thing. I frown on a kid like Sina jumping up and saying he no longer will consider Seton Hall.  Honestly now is the time to jump on the band wagon with a kid who will get you open shots and make you better because at this time you certainly are more of a two guard who night just grow 3 more inches based on Dads height, and you could perfectly compliment Mr.Carr. JMHO!

My thoughts about a few local teams playing basketball.

FDU is now 1 and 12 and getting worst each time out. Can you even imagine attending a game there? The atmosphere must be very interesting to say the least. I still say this has more to do with the Administration than the coaching staff. A staff with Coach Tom Green, assisted by Ron Brown and yes Greg Vatrone would have much better results because they were used to not getting support and learned to work around it. Again the NJAC is waiting for that call!

Binghamton made national headlines a few  season back. Head Coach and Assistants were let go and Mark Macon was retained as head coach with very little experience. Place was selling out with close to 5000 per game years ago, had a kids corner, it was the place to be in that town. Now they are 0-14 and ready to face FDU in the losers bowl on QVC because they can sell anything to people there.  I am sure they could sell out the St. Charles CYO gym for this game! Meantime the ex Coach is back at Georgetown waiting for his next opportunity. And if people pay attention they will realize what a good job he actually did. (Here comes the hits and attacks towards me lol).

Marist is 7-8 so a great guy,  Chucky Martin,  will hopefully get more time to get it rolling at marist as it was years ago with sell outs and exciting games.

Siena beat Fairfield last night and people were actually at the game. Amazing!  Imagine if they won more often! Or could it be there is really nothing else to do in the Albany area on a Friday evening? Close to 7000 people came out! They currently average around the same number.

Iona is 12-3 and I have to just say good coaching and some luck in landing a few players they could normally not get makes them a very good team. You know the players so no sense in saying the names. OK I will say them anyway. Glover and  Jones are both BE caliber players as is the PG Machado who has worked to become a great player at his position.

Columbia is 10-5 so the band and Ron Kapon, the biggest Columbia University fan in the world must be feeling mighty good!

Fairfield is 7-8 and looks to need a boast after last nights loss to Siena. Great campus and wonderful arena they use in Bridgeport. Just wonder if they would not be better off back at Alumni Hall on campus. Also why would a person leave Princeton? That's a life job with prestige!

Did I say FDU is now 1-12?

St. Peters, one of the most difficult jobs in America along with St. Francis of Brooklyn, is 3-12. John Dunn is a nice guy.......

Manhattan is 9-7 and just getting it going. I expect the next few seasons will be even better!

Fordham is 7-7. Please see Manhattan comment. But they do need a new gym!

Wagner has a hot commodity in Dan Hurley. I still remember when he was "Danny" lol. They are 11-3 and I expect some schools to make a run at Dan when the season is over. Will Bob Jr. who used to be "Bobby" take his place if he leaves or go with him?

St. Johns is 7-7 after all the fanfare about the recruiting class and world class coaching staff. Again I hope Steve Lavin recovers well and gets back on the side line because at this time that is the only excuse they can use because they do have players! I really want SJU to return to the glory days. NYC and the tri-state area needs strong BE teams to make the Garden jump again!. Hard part of the season approaching. Good Luck!

Rutgers won their annual feel great game against Florida. They are now 8-7 with some big games on tap. I do think this program is headed in the right direction but feel the need is still there for a facility face lift and not just a coat of fresh paint.

Seton Hall has been the surprise teal locally and everyone is excited. My big question is will the coaching staff still allow Sina to attend games after he said he is no longer interested in attending.


Just want everyone to know I am working on some HS stuff including best player lists in NYC and NJ, best regardless of class, best coaches in tri-state area, and even best sleepers. Stay tuned. Hopefully by this week!

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