Maui Classic Could Provide Redemption for Washington
Aug 8, 2010, 1:26 AM | Updated: Apr 5, 2011, 11:20 am
Washington will face their former cross state rivals Tony Bennett and the Virginia Cavaliers at the 2010 Maui Classic on Monday November 22nd at 9 PM (PST). The Dawgs and UVA are in the same bracket for this 8 team event as none other than the Kentucky Wildcats of Terrence “I’ve got to get another hat” Jones, Enes “No speak English” Kanter and the worst of them all John “Super Sleaze” Calipari.
It will be a major challenge for the UW coaching staff to keep the focus on Virginia, who are a program on the rise and one with a coach whose system has given Romar and the Dawgs fits through most of he and his dad Dick’s tenure in Pullman.
On Kentucky’s side of things, they must beat the Oklahoma Sooners of Jeff Capel who really should be on probation along with UK after the discovery of cash payments to forward Keith “Tiny” Gallon and other questionable situations worthy of an NCAA investigation. If UW beats the Cavaliers and Kentucky beats the Sooners, there will be a showdown between UW and UK at 6:30 PM (PST) on Tuesday the 23rd.
The only way that these two face each other is if both win or both lose their 1st round games. In the other bracket sit two of the top programs in college hoops,
One is a model of doing things the right way and the other one not so much. Michigan State and Tom Izzo is about as successful a program, while strongly adhering to the rules, as there is in college basketball, with the possible exception of Duke.
UConn is a machine, a college hoops factory, run by an iron fisted tyrant in Jim Calhoun. Calhoun has played it fairly fast and loose, at least of late, but has parlayed it into success which includes two of the greatest heartbreakers in UW history.
Those were the famous Richard Hamilton put back shot which sank UW at the buzzer in the Sweet-16 in 1997 and the infamous double technical foul assessed in a scrap with play stopped between Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay, which gave Roy 4 fouls in a game in which Washington had things well in hand.
Michigan State was also the cause of some serious Washington disappointment during March Madness, as Scott Skiles 1986 MSU team eliminated the Huskies of current assistant coach Paul Fortier, as well as UW all-time leading scorer Chris Welp, in the 1st round of the tournament on two foul shots with 2 seconds on the clock.
MSU will play host Chaminade and UConn will take on a quality opponent in Wichita State. The story line for this Maui Classic for Washington is this. Will UW vindicate itself from the hard to stomach defeats of the past from the “other” Huskies and the Spartans, not to mention the difficult to address feelings of betrayal at the hands of “Coach Cal”, “T-Jones” and Enes “The Menace” Kanter?
Rivals blogger Jeff Eisenberg is one of many who are aware of the national interest in a Kentucky/Washington second round match-up.
“If both the Huskies and Wildcats take care of business as expected in their openers, they will meet in the semifinals on Nov. 23 in what would likely be one of the most anticipated non-conferences games of next season. A battle between a pair of likely top 25 teams always makes for a nice non-conference match-up, but it’s the recruiting back story that ensures a Washington-Kentucky showdown would be must-see TV. The enmity between the two fan bases started earlier this year when five-star Turkish big man Enes Kanter committed to Washington and then reneged on the decision and opted for Kentucky instead. Then McDonald’s All-American Terrence Jones revealed in mid-May that he was signing with Kentucky after originally donning a Washington cap at a news conference at his high school three weeks earlier.”
Any way you slice it, this Maui Classic is going to be a test of will for this year’s Huskies. I see problems for UW this early in the year, if they do not figure out a way to get consistent inside scoring, especially against power teams like MSU or UConn. Virginia will be rebuilding, but don’t forget about the distraction that Kentucky looming ahead could cause the Dawgs.
I see UW beating the Cavs hopefully, then routing Kentucky, but unfortunately for Husky fans, I don’t see them taking down what will probably be a Final four team next year in Michigan State in the final game. I think that Izzo’s guys will get the best of Calhoun, who may be getting ready to call it a career.
MBA Makes British National Team
When I first spoke to the newest UW Assistant Coach, Raphael Chillious, he was still at South Kent Prep in Connecticut coaching Matthew Bryan-Amaning, a new commit to UW’s class of 2007. We spoke about the possibility that someday Matt could play in the Olympics for the British team. That possibility came closer to being realized when Matt was chosen for that team this week.
Matt was there on Monday when the Brits beat Hungary, but did not play. It seems that he will be a bench player, for a team that includes Luol Deng of the Chicago Bulls.
Deng is a good friend of Matt’s and he thanks him in an article about his selection to the British team in the London Mirror.
Matt spoke to in the piece about his hopes to play in the NBA after his senior year at UW.
“Hopefully I can get a contract to stay in America because the NBA is the place to be. I have seen what Luol has achieved over there which is very inspiring.”
Matt will attempt this year at UW to be a major force in the post and take on a much larger role with the loss of Quincy Pondexter. This was something that Quincy did last year in the wake of the exit of Jon Brockman and he was very successful.
With the addition of Aziz N’Diaye and the hopeful continued maturation and progress in coming back from injury of Darnell Gant and Tyreese Breshers, Matt could be the third inside scoring Dawg in 3 years to lead his team to conference and NCAA Tournament success.
Brockman meanwhile has started a basketball camp in his home town of Snohomish WA for 6-16 year olds. According to a feel good feature in the Everett Herald, Pondexter, Jon’s former UW and Sacramento team mate Spencer Hawes and former Sonic Nick Collison will be there supporting Jon.
While Matt plays for his country this summer and Jon debuts his camp, UW Coach Lorenzo Romar has been coaching US Select team, a group of 20 college all-stars that played against NBA Summer League squads in Vegas this past month. That team has been cut to a 10-man squad that will play against the US National team in NYC. Romar and Villanova Coach Jay Wright were commended for their work in Vegas by USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo.
“Lorenzo Romar and Jay Wright did a terrific job of coaching the select players in Las Vegas. It worked so well we’ve decided to bring to New York a smaller group of players from that Select Team to do the same thing. They were very valuable to us and it’s a great experience for them”
Romar will not continue on in the Big Apple, as Wright will take the reins for that leg of the journey, according to Matt Norlander of Yahoo.
Husky Recruiting Corner
2011 UW guard recruit Brett Kingma was reported by Rivals to have picked up offers from Oregon, Vanderbilt and Washington. We spoke to Brett and he told us that he also picked one up from Colorado, but that he is not going to commit until October. It seems to me he wants to see who all offers and take his visits, which is understandable.
Percy Allen of the Seattle Times, who is newly returned from family leave, interviewed Brett on Wednesday.
One interesting part of that interview to me was when Brett talked about what Romar has told him as to why he has been officially offered by UW since his breakout performances in Vegas and Phoenix in late July.
“He just said the fact that I can score and I can also play the point guard, he didn’t know I could do that before. He said I showed that in Vegas and Phoenix.
He said my feet were quick. They weren’t lightening quick and I wasn’t a jet, but he said I could run the floor, push the ball and that I had a burst of speed that he liked. And that I could play defense and not get burned and stay in front and make stuff happen on defense. He said with strength I’ll get better because my body hasn’t really matured too much yet. He said if I can work on that, I can be a really good player there.”
Normally recruits don’t go into such great detail as to what coaches tell them, but Brett is an especially articulate kid as well.
Brett’s back court mate for Friends of Hoop is 2011 UW guard recruit Hikeem Stewart and the Colorado Rivals site did an update on him as well on Tuesday. According to the piece, Stewart has, “Picked up offers from UCLA, Colorado, Arizona State and Santa Clara to go with previous offers from Washington, Washington State, Oregon State and UNLV” and added that “Kansas and Oregon have also shown interest”.
Hikeem spoke about his interest in Washington and let it be known that the Dawgs are going to be tough to beat to get him to sign on the dotted line.
“I have known Coach Lorenzo Romar at Washington for so long and he is a good person and a good coach and they have been recruiting me for a while now. And it is in my hometown so that kind of puts them above everybody.”
In the piece Stewart also compares his style to Brandon Roy. I also saw Hikeem down at the UW Open Gym on this past Thursday.
2011 UW guard recruit Jahii Carson was all but signed sealed and delivered to either Arizona or UCLA, depending on which hype machine you want to believe. He then told Rivals ASU site on Thursday that he was definitely going to visit UW, as well as Oregon State and Arizona.
“I’m going to take [an official] visit to UA the first week of September and I’m going to visit Washington the third week and then Oregon State in October and then after that I’m going to narrow it down and from there make my decision. I’m going to be deciding by November and signing then.”
That same general plan was again confirmed by Rivals’ Eric Bossi later in the day. Bossi speculated where Carson may take his other two available visits.
“Among the other programs that have been in touch or could wind up with official visits are Arizona State (where he visited unofficially on Wednesday), UCLA and North Carolina among others.”
Carson is a fantastic athlete who is extremely fast and can jump like very few. Many have remarked that his hops remind them of Nate Robinson.
There’s a clip from ballislife that demonstrates some of that.
In another Carson recruiting update by Zagsblog on Friday, the NY based hoops site reported that Jahii stated that he would also definitely visit St. Johns, as well as UW, OSU and ‘Zona. They also stated that his last official would be filled by either UNC or Alabama, according to what Jahii told them.
Jahii has not been the most dependable source for information on his recruiting though, as he stated in a Youtube video two weeks ago that Arizona was his leader, then a week later stated that UCLA was his leader.
This weekend at the Nike Global Challenge in Portland OR, Carson put on a show in the warm-ups with his circus athleticism then helped his USA Midwest team take it to Team Asia.
“USA Midwest point guard Jahii Carson of Gilbert (Ariz.) Mesa – all 5-feet-11-inches of him – earned some early votes for the NBA Slam Dunk Contest circa 2014 after putting on an aerial display during pre-game warm-ups that sent a group of kids from a local Boys and Girls Club into a Coke-and-Pop Rocks kind of tizzy. And that was before he scored 22 points on 9-for-11 shooting against All-Asia.”
According to ESPN, Jahii’s sound play was impressive and redeemed him from some stumbles in late July.
“Carson, who has a tendency to play more for flash than substance, was terrific in his team’s dismantling of Team Asia. His 22-point, nine-assist (with only one turnover) performance was solid on many levels. His penetration into the teeth of the defense and decision making were the catalysts to his team’s easy victory. He has elite-level quickness and speed and his change of direction was impressive. Plus, when the opening wasn’t available, he calmly sank his jump shot.”
Carson had another good game on Saturday in Portland and against a tough opponent, as Jahii led the USA Midwest team to a victory over the French team.
“Carson consistently broke down the defense with his penetration and found teammates and knocked down jumpers in the gaps. On 50 percent shooting he scored 13 points to go along with six assists, five rebounds. Carson was also the point of attack for the Midwest’s spirited man to man defense.”
Jahii also more clearly defined his recruiting for Jerry Meyer of Rivals, at least for the time being, but did make it clear that his recruiting was heading for a spring signing.
“Jahii Carson said Arizona State, Arizona and Washington standout right now and are recruiting him the hardest. The tempo of play for Arizona and Washington appeal to him, and he will be watching Arizona State closely this year to see if they truly do transition to a faster style of play. An official visit is set for Arizona the first weekend of September, a Washington visit the last weekend of September, followed by an Oregon State visit and then a visit to UCLA at a still to be determined date. Despite the fall visits, don’t expect a decision until the spring. Outside of the Pac-10, St. John’s, Alabama and Memphis are schools of interest.”
2011 UW guard recruit Jabari Brown is now getting recruited by UCLA according to the Bruin Rivals site.
“Even though, to this point, the Bruins have not recruited Brown very intensively, they may be changing their mind. His stock has risen precipitously this summer to the point where he now is considered a potential Top 20 player. Brown, who recently was named MVP of the Las Vegas Fab 48 Tournament, has gotten the attention of everyone in the last few months. Brown is a strong, solid athlete who has become a great shooter and a very tough defender. It’s hard to get a handle on his recruitment, but we are hearing that if UCLA actively pursues him, there may be a shot here.”
Scout’s Bruin site was less optimistic about getting Brown so late in the game, but they confirmed that he is actually getting the push from Ben Howland and company.
“UCLA has stepped up its recruitment of Brown over the last couple of months, but it got on him late, so it’s an uphill battle.”
Jabari was the MVP of the Fab 48, but a number of UW recruits made the 30-man all tournament team including 2012 post Brandon Ashley, 2012 post Grant Jerrett, 2011 guard Nick Johnson, 2011 guard Brett Kingma, 2011 post Kyle Wiltjer and 2011 guard Tony Wroten.
Jabari is also down in the PDX this weekend for the Nike event and though his USA West team was beaten by the French, in a game that they easily could have won if Brown were hitting his 3’s, Jabari was again impressive according to Rivals.
“Jabari Brown was the game high scorer with 25 points, but only shot 2-10 from behind the arc. He did get to the line for 12 free throws.”
At the event, Rivals Jerry Meyer evidently did some digging into Brown’s recruitment and confirmed that Washington was definitely in the picture.
“Jabari Brown definitely plans to visit Washington and will also likely visit Kansas and Georgia Tech.”
Jabari against struggled with his outside shot in Portland, but once again was able to produce points, this time in a win over the All-Asia team, according to Rivals. So far for the event he is 3-17 from behind the arc.
“Jabari Brown struggled from behind the arc at a 1-7 clip but still managed 19 points.”
Brown confirmed his interest in UW to Scout on Wednesday.
“I have a great relationship with the (UW) coaching staff. Coach (Lorenzo) Romar, coach (Paul) Fortier and coach (Raphael) Chillious have all been talking to me. I wouldn’t say I have any favorites, but I do like Washington a lot.”
That doesn’t tell UW fans much, but if I had to make a guess right now I would say that Brown and UW are a good possibility, but that the Dawgs are keeping all of their options open as well. If I had to make an educated guess at this time I would say that UW will get Wroten, highly thought of San Diego post Angelo Chol, Kevin Davis of Tacoma CC and either Jabari or Hikeem and either Carson or Kingma.
The Dawgs only have 4 open scholarships, but if they play it true to form, I would guess that they’ll sign 5 in 2011.
2011 UW post recruit Norvel Pelle is, “High on the Baylor wish list”, according to Jerry Meyer at Rivals. It’s hard to gauge what Pelle is up to with recruiting, as his responses to the media have been rather vague and evasive, unless he truly is unable to say anything about the direction he is heading, as he keeps reiterating.
Another guard being mentioned as having interest in and from UW is LA CA’s Spencer Dinwiddie. What level that interest holds is yet to be determined, but Dinwiddie did nothing to hurt his reputation by showing well in Vegas.
Scout reported back on July 25th that, “Dinwiddie had coaches from San Diego, Santa Clara, UCLA, UNLV, Colorado, Arizona State and Washington on hand for his game”. Dinwiddie was named MVP of the Super 64 Event in Vegas in late July.
2011 UW wing prospect Kevin Bailey, “Is leaning to Stanford at this point, but UCLA has not yet pursued him with a maximum effort’, according to the always optimistic about the Bruins chances UCLA Rivals site.
Scout is also reporting that yet another 2011 prospect is being recruited by UW in West Virginian Tyquan Goard.
Relatively little has been written about Goard by the major sites and he is on the slight side at six-foot-six and 170 lbs. according to Scout. Goard played previously at George Washington HS in Charleston WV, but has transferred to prestigious Mountain State Acad. where he has garnered recruiting attention from Bob Huggins among others.
In a piece for a WVU fan site on March 2010, Goard was listed at six-foot-seven and 197 lbs. so he may not be as slight as Scout has him.
2011 UW post recruit Kyle Wiltjer is definitely a target for the Dawgs. Kyle confirmed that UW has recently offered him, according to an update in Scout’s Georgia Tech site and that he will be cutting his list to seven soon.
“When we last talked to Kyle, he had more than a dozen offers. He has picked up more offers since our last conversation. ‘I’ve gotten offers from Kentucky, Washington, UCLA, Virginia, and Georgia Tech’.”
Kyle led his Canadian team in the Nike event in Portland to an impressive win over the USA East team, leading all scorers with 31 points.
According to ESPN, Wiltjer is starting to look the part of a truly elite prospect.
“Wiltjer is arguably the most skilled 4-man in the country. He isn’t overly athletic and he needs to get stronger for the next level, but his skill level is peerless. He has savvy beyond his years and understands scoring angles better than most. His up-and-under moves, step-back jump shots and left-handed finishes are impressive. The knock on him through the years has been his tendency to play soft, but throughout the summer that area of his game has significantly improved. Overall, he didn’t have his 3-point shot going (1 of 7), but he finished the night with 31 points and 18 rebounds.”
Wiltjer had a much more difficult game in a loss to the USA South team on Saturday, but still finished with a decent stat line.
“Kyle Wiltjer struggled from the field going 6-19. He finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.”
2011 UW guard recruit Nick Johnson is probably not a player that UW has a great shot with, as it seems that the Dawgs are more focused on other guards, but he has mentioned Washington way back and is currently staying wide open, not at all eliminating UW, so his progress is worth following for UW fans.
ESPN gave Nick a nice mention and his skills would seem to be a very good fit for Romar’s program.
“Nick Johnson (Henderson, Nev./Findlay Prep) is an undersized shooting guard for the next level, but he affects the game in a variety of ways. He is a tenacious on-ball defender and attacks the rim with a vengeance.”
Johnson blew up in Portland at the Nike event on Saturday, showing why he is such a highly rated prospect.
“Nick Johnson was the game’s high scorer with 32 points on 13-24 shooting, 4-8 from behind the arc.”
2012 UW post recruit Brandon Ashley is far from having any favorites or even a list, according to an update in Scout. He did mention that Arizona was on him the hardest in the article.
2012 UW guard recruit Kevin “Yogi” Farrell was the toast of the adidas Nations event in Chicago, according to Rivals.
“While there was a ton of talent on the floor, ’12 point guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell stole the show while leading his 2012 squad to a come from behind victory. Yogi got off at slow start and looked downright shaky during the first half. He was playing a little out of control and seemed to be pressing as his team trailed into the second half. During the second half, the 5-foot-11 point guard got it started defensively by making life rough on Quinn Cook and Ryan Boatright. Then, he hit one of his trademark jumpers. After that, another, then, a pull-up on a dime three on the break and Ferrell was in the zone. He made a tough floater from 12 feet plus a foul and found others for easy buckets to go along with his 17 second half points.”
Rivals Eric Bossi, reporting on the event stated that Farrell’s list consisted of, “Indiana, Butler, Notre Dame, Purdue, Ohio State, Illinois, Washington, Michigan, Virginia and Florida”.
2013 UW guard recruit D’Erryl Williams II is another new face in the UW recruiting picture. According to Rivals, Williams has an offer from San Francisco and is talking to, “Stanford, Washington, Washington State, USC, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Notre Dame and UC Santa Barbara”.
In a feature in Scout on Thursday, it was reported that WSU 2010 signee Faisal Aiden will be on campus in Pullman in two weeks.
The article also pointed out that 6 different players are listed at much higher weights, most notable Deangelo Casto at 255 and Steven Bjornstad at 240 (up from 217).
According to Rivals, “Iowa, Minnesota, Butler, Rutgers, Utah, Princeton, Yale, Harvard, and now Washington State are amongst the many who have” offered 2011 Minnesota forward Shelby Moats.
Pac-10 Round Up
According to the NY Times, everyone in the revamped Pac-12 wants to stay as connected as possible to the LA market. Proposals that have divided the conference for football between a North and South division have not been well received by the schools that will lack exposure in Southern California by that type of alignment. For hoops it looks as if there won’t be the same sort of problem, but a 100% official scheduling plan has not yet been released.
One of the great small players in the past 20 years of the Pac-10 was UCLA’s Tyus Edney who took the team on his back with a coast to coast drive to win the 1995 National Championship on a Bruin team that included Seattle U Head Coach Cameron Dollar and was coached by then assistant Lorenzo Romar. Edney was named director of men’s basketball operations for his alma mater on Monday, according to the AP.
That position is very often a step up from a graduate assistant, as it pays better. Perhaps Edney intends to use it as a route to enter the coaching profession.
ASU Blogger Doug Haller speculates that Rihards Kuksiks participation on the Latvian National team, which will compete this month in a qualification tournament for the 2011 European Men’s Basketball Championships that lasts until August 29th. The kicker here is that Kuksiks must attend school by August 19th or lose his eligibility for his upcoming senior season in Tempe.
The best that the Sun Devils could hope for would be if Rihards starts school in time for winter quarter, making him eligible for conference play. Since Rihards has not commented it is hard to say what his intentions are actually, but since there were plenty of rumors that he would turn pro in Europe after last year, this does bring out some concerns for ASU, especially without any comment from Kuksiks and according to Haller’s sources, his situation has changed.
Without Kuksiks, who was ASU’s leading scorer in 2009-2010, ASU is doubly damaged, as they are also very thin in the front court when it comes to experience. Only little used seven-foot-two Ruslan Pateev returns with any experience and his minutes were almost exclusively in garbage time.
Oregon dodged a bullet by getting starting PG Malcolm Armstead to come back to play next year after he was granted a release. Armstead’s presence gives the Ducks a fighting chance, as now they have two viable PG’s with Malcolm and Garrett Sim to go with two viable shooting guards in Teondre Williams. Many have the Ducks headed for the conference cellar this season, but Armstead staying sheds a dim ray of hope.
If Joevan Catron has a good year and Michael Dunigan continues to improve, this Oregon team could possibly surprise, but the biggest question appears to be whether or not new Coach Dana Altman can turn around a culture of losing without his own guys.
Arizona’s sanctions that were handed down by the NCAA last week are the tip of the iceberg according to numerous Husky Digest sources, who have reported that for many years ‘Zona boosters and others like agents and shoe reps have provided the ‘Cats with unfair advantages in recruiting and improper benefits. One source, a former staff member for then Lute Olson’s program, told me once that players were commonly getting cars and lots of nice clothes.
On Scout’s Washington site this past weekend two anonymous posters relayed similar info.
“Poster#1: I have a feeling this could go deeper. i.e., kids getting paid. Poster #2: I’ve heard it from a former walk-on himself (he walked on around the time Jason Terry played at AZ) that a big time booster (who owns many car dealerships in the Tucson area) gave the players brand new vehicles for $1. Poster#1: I know of one myself who freely admits getting paid. When asked about possible repercussions…he acted incredulous…like every school did it. ‘No, they don’t’ was the reply.”
I am hearing from a handful of well placed sources that Arizona is still doing things like this and in fact could have upped the ante a bit in an era of William “Worldwide” Wes. Wesley is suspected more for helping out John Calipari and Oregon, as a favor to Nike’s Phil Knight, but also does a favor or two for Nike’s biggest basketball sponsorship account in the west in Arizona, according to sources on the business side of basketball.
We’ll be following this story, as the NCAA continues to pursue corruption on a number of fronts, including Kentucky and the Pump Brothers who’s influence has been felt in Kansas, UCLA and Louisville to name a few.
Speaking of the ‘Ville, Rick Pitino won his anticipated victory, as Karen Sypher was convicted by a jury of extortion. In the course of the trial, quite a bit of embarrassing testimony for the celebrity coach was given though. Sypher was noticeably disappointed by the verdict.
“I know now there is no justice system. There is no justice.”
She went on to say that she felt rest assured that she made the right decision to reject various plea bargains.
“That would mean I was guilty. I can honestly say I’ve never felt so calm in my life, because I finally was allowed to speak after being duct-taped over my mouth for so many years.”
I think that Sypher was up against a huge machine when she took on Pitino and I admire her bravery, regardless to what I think of her character.
The college basketball media all seemed to support Pitino, as a summary of columnists on the subject by Yahoo showed, instead painting him as a victim of an obvious case of “Fatal Attraction”.
I don’t buy that. I have heard since the beginning of this from sources who would know about the details, that Sypher was kept shut up over the course of a number of years and that her claims that she was intimidated into getting an abortion against her will well were not baseless. Pitino now attempts to put this behind him and he will have the support of the Louisville Athletic department.
A number of sources that have seen him in action and know how he conducts business on the recruiting trail have given me a pretty fair picture of Pitino, in course of our coverage of players like Peyton Siva, Josh Smith and others that Rick has courted. My feeling is that he is cut from the same cloth as John Calipari, in fact very much his equivalent adversary like Coke and Pepsi. It’ll take a lot of doing to repair his image, but I don’t think this story is done.
If Calipari goes down, my hope is that the other big “cheeses” in college hoops don’t just pick up quietly where he leaves off. I’m hoping to see more scrutiny of Pitino, as well as a number of others result in more corrections to the college hoops ethics equation that is definitely trending in a downward direction.
Is the punishment of having to repair his image enough for Pitino. Fox Sports spoke about the challenges that Rick and the multi-million dollar company that is his hoops machine will need to face to repair his image, but I don’t think that’s really all that needs to be done.
Pitino, like Calipari, thrives in a world in my opinion where teenage kids’ parents and other “handlers” look to be taken out of a world of struggle and poverty by illegal and non-compliant means. They do not care about his image, only in the sense that it may put them under more scrutiny and more likely to get caught. That punishment becomes actually helpful at some point, because when the people get away with it, it only affirms the correctness of the decision to cheat.
People like Pitino and Calipari need to not only get embarrassed and their images tarnished by suspect circumstances, they need to be appropriately punished by the NCAA. They have made their millions. They won’t spend a day in jail, as Karen Sypher more than likely will. But they need to be taken out of the sport and replaced by others who have a greater reverence for the NCAA and playing a game fairly that is meaningless unless it is played that way.
One figure that is constantly mentioned is Wesley, but there are many others that do the types of things that he has been suspected of doing. William is starting to get way too much publicity for someone who would want to operate in the fashion that he is thought to have been for a number of years. Wesley intends to become a legitimate agent and has been a part of CAA (Creative Artists Agency) for some time now.
The NY Times explored the conflict that his past activities as a complete enigma could have if he were to continue the activities that he is suspected of by so many, while acting as a licensed agent. My hope is that the NCAA watches him very closely, as it makes sense to me that this old dog may not be able to learn so many new tricks so quickly.
Wesley’s most visible partner in crime or recruiting “Magic”, if you read what Kentucky fans say on message boards, is Calipari. His train may have hit a little funny section of track in Chicago with Michael O’Brien of the Chicago Sun-Times reports of referenced requests for payment for 2011 top-10 post prospect Anthony Davis.
The story originally came out with the statement that sources alleged that Davis’ reported commitment to Kentucky came with a large price tag. The article was then pulled, because of an attempt by lawyers representing Kentucky to deflect a swarm of public outrage by threatening civil action.
The Sun-Times then republished the article with additional information and rephrased wording.
Here is the part of the original article that provided the most information as to what could be viewed as a major potential violation of very possibly unprecedented size that should if proven result in punishment of great severity for Kentucky.
“Rumors that Davis’ commitment is for sale have surfaced since he cut his list of schools down about a month ago. ‘There is all kinds of speculation and innuendo out there in the recruiting world regarding his recruitment and if it is going to turn seedy,’ recruiting analyst Joe Henricksen said. ‘But that’s often the route that this story takes when you see a player emerge like this. Who knows what’s true and what’s not.’ The rumors/sources that have Davis choosing Kentucky are also alleging that the commitment cost $200,000. Davis Sr. has flat out denied everything. ‘We haven’t asked anyone for anything and no one has offered us anything,’ Davis Sr. said on Thursday at a club basketball event in Merrillville, Ind. ‘It’s a little unfair for a kid to have to listen to those type(s) of rumors if they aren’t true,’ Henricksen said.”
The follow up article on Friday in the Sun-Times further stated that, “Sources from three separate universities told the Sun-Times that Davis Sr. asked for money in return for his son’s commitment, with the amounts ranging from $125,000 to $150,000”.
Henricksen publishes a blog on the Sun-Times web site on a similar beat to mine. I spoke to him on Friday, but he did not wish to comment, instead directing me to Michael O’Brien.
At first many college basketball columnists around the net indicted O’Brien as “Irresponsible”, but like the sheep that they often are, they seem to be turning that around somewhat.
Adam Zagoria called the report “Completely irresponsible” on Wednesday and quoted Henricksen who said, “It’s a little unfair for a kid to have to listen to those type of rumors if they aren’t true”.
I don’t fault Joe, Adam or any of them, as they only seek to keep from being shut out by sources on future “inside” recruiting information. This is common in my opinion for most of the college hoops media, many of whom actually get some of their best information from the perpetrators of these capers, but need to keep them safe and happy to continue to trade info with them.
These exchanges help the bad guys more than these writers financially by a long shot, but the writers who don’t actually participate (though a few likely have) can sleep easier I guess.
Some like Yahoo’s Matt Norlander are either too high brow to deal with this stock in trade or just playing dumb in my opinion.
Matt’s comment regarding the Davis family is a gem.
“Of course, the family couldn’t possibly accept money now, even if for some reason all of this was true; they’d be even dumber than the Sun-Times in this quagmire if they took cash.”
I have to believe that Matt is the guy with tunnel vision pounding away on his typewriter while someone else at Yahoo/Rivals gets the inside scoop.
Some bloggers like Deadspin applauded O’Brien and the Sun-Times for their decision to not back down from Kentucky’s legal threats.
Kentucky fans sites of course exploded in a sea of true blue denial.
In a post blogger Glenn Logan seemingly begs for someone to put him out of his misery and actually provide sourced evidence, rather than the anonymous sources that clearly dominate the landscape, though he concludes with a wispy hope that it is all a lie, reminiscent of the fall of Rome or the old south in “Gone with the Wind”.
“So I call on the Sun-Times and the alleged witnesses — come out of the shadows. Help us clean up college basketball. If UK is really this filthy, I want everyone associated with this mess fired and prosecuted tomorrow morning, starting with President Lee Todd and working its way all the way down. This sort of behavior is intolerable, if true, and even though Kentucky is my favorite team, I would spare them not a whit if they were involved in something so nefarious. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, they say. Come out of the shadows. Tell the truth. Offer proof. Let’s get rid of all the bad actors we can. Or shut up, and stop hurting other people with anonymously-sourced stories that are facially unbelievable.”
Criticism of the Sun-Times coverage of Davis even came from their top competitor in the Chicago Tribune, which makes sense. These papers are really struggling these days and I guess this does provide a window for an adversary to show it’s true colors.
In this case I believe that regardless to the outcome the Tribune won’t be helped by this ground breaking story.
If all that wasn’t enough for good old’ “Coach Cal”, Gary Parrish of CBSSportsline.com reported that Enes Kanter’s eligibility has been brought into question by the NCAA.
Another case of impropriety, or what actually seems like petty larceny compared to the situation surrounding Calipari and Kentucky, Oklahoma Coach Jeff Capel’s problems with Keith “Tiny” Gallon’s documented $3K cash payment have kind of disappeared from the sports pages.
When the NCAA finishes investigating they could pop up there again, but in the meantime, Capel took the time to go on record that he feels that players and agents deserve to be punished (rather than just the schools and those poor coaches), when they get involved prematurely. I find this to be quite rich.
No coach can know everything a player is doing 24 hours a day, but to say that this stuff can easily go on without a coach looking the other way or being incompetent is preposterous. These guys are being paid like major corporate execs and should be held accountable.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Kansas’ top recruit Josh Selby, who some feel is the top guard in the class of 2010 and Memphis’ top recruit and a top-5 overall recruit himself Will Barton are both having their eligibility brought into question by the NCAA. Selby’s troubles stem from a relationship with an agent and reports in the NY Times that he was driving a fancy car when interviewed earlier in the year. Barton’s troubles appear to be academic.