Archie Goodwin is a Little Rock, Ark. native who also happens to be the No. 13 recruit in the class of 2012. He's been going through the standard recruiting -- fielding offers, visiting schools, narrowing his list of potential suitors, and so on. But while a lot of prospects tend to politely sugarcoat the reasons they eliminate schools from their considerations -- "Coach seems great, I just want to be closer to home," et al. -- Goodwin has been remarkably candid, especially in this interview with Sync Magazine's Evin Demeril. Goodwin recently dropped Texas, Missouri and Baylor as three of his options. Why? Here comes the straight shooting:
“I did away with Texas simply because I didn’t feel like my relationship was strong enough with Coach Barnes. I can see myself playing for Texas, but I didn’t feel comfortable with him as my coach.”
Harsh, but fair enough. And fret not, Texas fans, because Missouri gets it way worse:
“I talked to the assistant coaches all the time. Coach Tim Fuller is one of the coolest assistant coaches I’ve ever known, but as far as the head coach, I really didn’t know his name. I couldn’t tell you the head coach’s name. He talked to me on the phone, but Tim was the one that mostly called.”
I'm going to go ahead and guess that if a recruit can't name the head coach of a program -- it's Frank Haith, by the way -- he's probably not going to be too interested in attending. Just a hunch.
Anyway, those bites are merely the palette-pleasing appetizer for the main course of deliciousness to ensue. When asked why he removed Baylor from his list, Goodwin got his Tim Gunn on:
“Coach Scott Drew is a great guy. I love Coach Drew. They were one of the first schools that were recruiting me. But I didn’t like that they were an adidas team, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t go to Kansas because Kansas is a great team. I can look over the adidas thing -- I own some adidas stuff. [Goodwin played recent summers with the Arkansas Wings Elite team, which is sponsored by Nike] I didn’t like their colors, either. I don’t like green and gold. That’s ugly …. When you got ugly colors like that, you gotta be Nike. …. Baylor has some ugly shoes, too.”
There are two reactions to this. The first is laughter. I mean, let's face it: Baylor's shoes are ugly. (But the uniforms aren't that bad!)
The second reaction I had was less about how hilarious Goodwin's quote is -- and it is hilarious -- and more about how unintentionally revealing it seems to be. We've long known how important shoe-company affiliation is to recruiting; that's why Nike and Adidas invest millions in grassroots teams and elite prospect camps each and every year. It's the reason the two spend so much money competing for major college sponsorships. It's all about brand loyalty, exposure, and getting early hooks into the next big product-moving NBA star.
But only recently has college football, with its score of schools now seeking to replicate the Oregon attention-economy model, shown us how much high school kids care about the actual uniforms themselves. Apparently, they do care. They might not care as much as Archie Goodwin, but it'd be foolish to assume he's a major outlier here. This might be one of the more underrated aspects of recruiting, something to throw in the kit next to coaching style, tradition, location, NBA development and gleaming facilities.
Is this a good way to decide your basketball future? Absolutely not. If Baylor is the right place for you, it's the right place whether the team wears green, gold, purple, pink, red or jerseys that look like vintage Marquette. (Actually, that would be pretty cool.)
But it's Goodwin's choice, you know? Silly or not, how he comes to his decision is, well, his decision. I wouldn't recommend it, but you can't fault the kid for his honesty.