Monday, September 07, 2009

It's Good To Know A Top Recruit

Louisville gets a mention in an Andy Katz blog post from Friday, although not for that Pitino sex scandal that has been grabbing the headlines. Katz is actually writing about the hiring of Indianapolis Pike High assistant coach Shabaka Lands to be Pitino's 11th assistant coach. Now I'm sure that just about nobody has ever heard of Lands, and nobody would ordinarily care about Louisville's 11th assistant coach, except that Lands got the job specifically because his former school (Pike High) is the location of one of 2011's Top 10 national recruits, Marquis Teague. And if you don't think the fact that Lands coached Teague, and Teague is Pitino's top target for 2011 are related facts, I've got a bridge to sell you.

This highlights an NCAA coaching trick that has been going on for years - in fact, decades. Teams hire relatives and coaches of the players that they want to sign, in hopes of luring those players. Now, that is bad enough behavior - giving jobs to people who aren't qualified as an attempt to push the recruiting envelope as far as possible. But sometimes it actually gets worse, with coaches/parents and players becoming package deals, where kids will flat out tell coaches that they'll only come to the school if their father can get a job, or if their coach can be on the staff. John Calipari is probably most famous for this trick, such as hiring DaJuan Wagner's father in exchange for Wagner's letter of intent. Calipari has even has done it with players who insist on coming as packages, such as star 2009 recruit Xavier Henry, who insisted on being a package deal with C.J. Henry, his brother. C.J. is a mediocre recruit who wouldn't have gotten a whiff of attention from big time programs, but he has now followed Xavier to Kansas, where Bill Self was willing to give up a spot on his roster to a non-productive player in order to get arguably the best player in the '09 class.

Katz matter-of-factly talks about this practice, even resigning himself to the fact that "Coaches who have ties to players joining staffs has happened for decades. It's not going away at any juncture." If it isn't going away, it's only because the NCAA chooses to do nothing about it. If the NCAA wants to pass a rule then they can, and I have a simple rule that would fix almost all of this in one fell swoop:

1) Whenever any coach is added to the staff of a college basketball team in any position other than head coach, that team may not sign any player that the coach has had on his high school or AAU team within the past 3 seasons.

2) A school may not hire to any position (basketball-related or not) a direct relative of a basketball recruit while that player is eligible to play at the school, nor shall they sign any player within two years of hiring a direct relative at the school.

If the NCAA passed those two rules then they would end almost all of this bad behavior immediately.

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