May 7, 2008
The world of college basketball recruiting is absolutely wacky.
Recently an eighth grader decided on his college choice. OK, he has a few years before he will be hitting the campus, but this story is wild.
Michael Avery from Lake Sherwood, Calif. made headlines by verbally committing to Kentucky and coach Billy Gillispie. Avery was at a basketball camp and Gillispie liked him enough to offer him a college scholarship. Meanwhile the young man is still undecided about which high school he will attend!
I'll tell you what is next. We are going to have some coach looking at a great athlete who just produced a child. The coach can go to the nursery, check out a true diaper dandy, look at the size of his feet and offer him a scholarship! Yes, I am just kidding, but you have to wonder to what lengths people will go to recruit!
Think about what can happen for an eighth grader between now and college. It is five years, but the kid has lock city with a firm offer of a scholarship. Gillispie made the offer, but I don't think it is healthy and good for college basketball.
When I was coaching and recruiting for Rutgers and then Detroit, you heard about young players around their sophomore year. The world has changed. There are so many recruiting services that rate players, even kids in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades. There is so much evaluation and you are aware of every name possible.
Guys make their living doing this. People like Bob Gibbons, Clark Francis and Tom Konchalski over the years have done a super job. You can get list after list of recruits.
Kentucky got a lot of headlines out of the Avery story. The bottom line is that this is not good for the game.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.