You're a new coach at a Division I men's basketball program. You're amped, of course, but you're realistic, too, and you know the toughest part of your job begins after you sign the line which is dotted. First, you need to "win" the news conference. (Whatever that means.) Then you need to convince your current players -- those bound for the NBA and those considering a transfer -- that you are worth staying and playing for. Then you can turn your eye toward the future of your program, namely the committed recruits you inherited from your predecessor.
There's only one problem: One of these recruits won't pick up his cell phone. His parents are deflecting your attempts to contact him at home. You're worried that if you can't get in touch with him shortly, you could lose this player for good. Frankly, you're worried that you already have.
In the world of college hoops, this counts as a pretty innocuous story. Coaches lose commitments. Players want to transfer. These things, as they say, happen.
Unless you're Brian Gregory. Gregory, Paul Hewitt's new replacement at Georgia Tech, is currently dealing with one of the more baffling recruiting chases you'll ever hear about, one that stretches to the Far East and has been dubbed a "mystery" by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The story revolves around Yellow Jackets recruit Bobby Ray Parks Jr., the No. 31-ranked shooting guard in the class 0f 2011, who signed a national letter of intent with Georgia Tech in November of 2010. He has disappeared since. Gregory has been unable to contact Parks or his father, former Memphis State star Bobby Ray Parks Sr., in numerous attempts by phone. He told the AJC that Parks's is the most "bizarre recruiting situation I have ever seen."
So: What happened to Bobby Ray Parks Jr.?
Thanks to Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn, we now know the answer. According to Luke, Parks' father -- a hoops legend in the Philippines -- took a job as the sports development director at National University in Manila in the summer of 2010. He took his son with him, enrolling him in home-schooling and, this past fall, as a freshman at National University. Parks Jr. began playing basketball for National's hoops team, the Bulldogs, where he immediately became the best young player in the Philippines.
There is a bit of intrigue attached to the story, too, as Winn points out that Parks Sr.'s decision to move to the Philippines and enroll his son at National University just so happens to coincide with the acquisition of a 60 percent stake in the school by the family of shopping mall-made billionaire Henry Sy.
But Gregory and Georgia Tech fans eager for the school's desired hoops turnaround will be less fascinated by the reasons for Parks Jr.'s departure -- though you have to admit, they are fascinating, so be sure to read Luke's entire story -- and more interested in whether he can still one day suit up for the school. That is looking unlikely. The NCAA told Winn that Parks Jr.'s time at National meant he would be treated as a transfer, not a recruit, and barring a hardship waiver would have to wait a season to play in the U.S. were he to return in the first place. Worse yet, it seems the Parks duo is set on staying at National University for at least another season.
Nor does Gregory seem all that eager to welcome Parks Jr. back into the fold. And, sure, while it always hurts to lose a recruit -- especially one that might have contributed immediately in the Yellow Jackets' backcourt -- Parks Jr. is only barely regarded among the top 150 recruits in his class and is unlikely to be a program-changer even if he came back to America.
Anyway: So solved was the mystery of Bobby Ray Parks Jr. Consider one task checked off Brian Gregory's to-do list. Next up? Finding players that want to come to Georgia Tech who aren't going to bolt for the Philippines after signing their letters of intent. You wouldn't think this would be that hard, but, apparently, you never know.