Wednesday, June 10, 2009

John Calipari - Greatest Recruiter ever?

From time to time I like to read the college basketball scouting reports for the upcoming season. I was especially intrigued about this particular kid John Wall. He's a 6'3 point guard from North Carolina. He's a McDonald's All-American and he is considered the best of the crop for the upcoming 2009-2010 season. The reports all say that he is good enough to go pro now. He's what you would call a "One and Done." My brother, a walking sports Almanac, tells me that this kid is a die hard Tar Heels fan and it became public knowledge that his mother had pleaded with coach Roy Williams to take a look at him for recruitment to Chapel Hill. Roy took a look but then did not actively pursue him. Coach K from Duke and John Calipari, now from Kentucky, were relentlessly hounding this kid to come to their respective schools. In the end Calipari won out. With Calipari's switch over from Memphis to Kentucky and his upcoming recruiting class he has been dubbed the greatest recruiter ever by many of the talking heads. But is there any truth to this, is John Calipari the best college basketball recruiter ever?My brother, the sports almanac, and I both disagree with this sentiment. Calipari is a good coach no question, but he is far from the best recruiter. Any school worth it's salt can get a top pick from High School. It's finding a talented player that also has the personality and character that helps your team win. That is a special skill that only a few have, coaches like Roy Williams from UNC. No one will deny that Williams is an excellent recruiter. If this is true then why did he turn down John Wall a point guard who could run the Carolina offense possibly better than anyone? Not to mention he is from Carolina and, as I said above, his mother pleaded with Roy Williams to consider him. With all of these chances why would Roy Williams not really consider this wunderkind of Basketball? This kid who could take UNC to another National Championship probably in his Freshman year. Well it could be that John Wall, as good as he is, he might be a noose over the neck of any school he plays for. If you've read the news recently, John Wall was charged with breaking and entering. Kids do stupid things sometimes no question but this is trouble a top University does not need. Not to mention there are rumors circulating that John Wall has received cash incentives from colleges. This is even worse news. It appears as if this kid is selling his talent to the highest bidder. Calipari and Kentucky, I guess, don't care about this. Kentucky hasn't been a relevant team in a while and now that they have brought controversial coach John Calipari aboard I guess they figure as long as they win championships they can deal with the backlash.Here is something to consider about John Calipari and this is not to say that he is or was involved directly in these dealings, but it does cast a shadow on him and his basketball program. Calipari has only been to two Final Fours. Calipari was leaving Umass to coach the Nets when his first Final Four appearance was under question because of one of his players, Marcus Camby. Camby had received gifts from two agents while still at Umass. Calipari had a bit of a scarlet letter on him with College Basketball after that. So when Calipari decided to return to College Hoops he found the offers to be lacking. No one wanted to really touch him. So he ended up in Memphis for the 2000-2001 season. For nine years he built up the school at Memphis. And in the 2007-2008 season he took his Memphis Tigers to the final game of the Final Four only to lose to Kansas. Now as he takes over at Kentucky his former school is under investigation. Memphis player Derrick Rose is being targeted for cheating on his SATs in order to get into Memphis. If these allegations prove to be true, like Umass, Memphis will have it's Final Four record expunged from the record books. This could be pure bad luck or it could be a pattern of mis-conduct on Calipari's part. It is true he has never been fully investigated in all of these circumstances but if there are to be violations later regarding John Wall, who will be to blame? I think it's time the NCAA does it's job and truly investigate Calipari and his tactics. If the John Wall situation escalates and that it is discovered that he took money then Calipari deserves even tougher scrutiny.

*Updated note - Apparently the SAT situation has been resolved for Derrick Rose and he seems to be in the clear for that violation. Although he is now being scrutinized for unpaid trips his brother took on the Memphis players private plane. There are also new allegations against another Memphis player Robert Dozier and his entrance exams into college.

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