D.J. Gardner Learns the Reality of the Social Media Era the Hard Way

Posted by nvr1983 on August 27th, 2011

Over the past two years few programs have had to deal with as many major issues related to eligibility and suspensions as Mississippi State has had to. From the initial investigation and year-long suspension of Renardo Sidney to the nine-game suspension that Dee Bost had to serve last year and finally the ugly fight between Sidney and teammate Elgin Bailey in the stands at the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii last December the program has had a difficult time getting out of its own way and putting its best possible team on the court. This time it involves a player, D.J. Gardner, who was not even going to be on the team this year.

Stansbury appears to be running a three-ring circus in Starkville

On Thursday, Rick Stansbury, announced that Gardner, a highly touted recruit who was considered a top 20 shooting guard in the class of 2011, would be redshirting. According to Gardner’s mother, her son approached the staff about redshirting after finding out that he would be part of a three-man shooting guard rotation rather than receiving the majority of the playing time that he had reportedly been promised during his recruitment to Starkville. In addition, she reports that the decision as to whether or not her son would be redshirting was not supposed to be decided on until November. However, when Stansbury announced that Gardner would be redshirting, D.J. fired off the following tweet (edited for our family audience):

These b***es tried to f**k me over.. That’s y I red shirted .. But I wish my homies a great as* season.. I don’t even know y I’m still here

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Andre Drummond Commits To UConn & Changes The National Title Picture

Posted by nvr1983 on August 26th, 2011

A little over two weeks after he decided to spend an extra year in prep school rather than go to college Andre Drummond announced that he had changed his mind and would head to Connecticut this fall. It was a shocking change of heart even by the standards of a typical teenager that dramatically changes the landscape of college basketball next season. Instead of the expected North Carolina-Kentucky showdown that college basketball writers have been hyping since the NBA Draft deadline passed we should get a national title picture that is a little less clear. While the Huskies won’t go straight to the top of the pack they may possess the most talented starting line-up in the country with Shabazz Napier, Jeremy Lamb, Roscoe Smith, Alex Oriakhi, and Drummond. Even though that group will need a little time to mesh and we expect the other four to take a while to adjust to life without Kemba Walker that is one of most talented, versatile line-ups we have seen in several years.

Drummond and Muhammad may never meet in college now

On top of adding the talent of a potential #1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft to the defending national champions, Drummond’s decision gives Jim Calhoun (we are assuming that he is definitely coming back at this point) the flexibility to use two other less-hyped, but still very talented freshmen–DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright–in more targeted action early in their college careers. Perhaps more importantly it allows Smith to move to small forward and Oriakhi, who went through maddening stretches last season where he couldn’t grab a rebound, to power forward where he should be able to overpower most of the other power forwards he faces. And when the leaner, more athletic blow by Oriakhi? They wind up facing Drummond, a player whom many NBA scouts have compared to Amar’e Stoudamire (a little premature, but if you watch the video below you will see why).

Contrary to some of the reaction online this doesn’t automatically vault the Huskies into the #1 spot and a sure-fire repeat champion like Duke appeared to be last season before Kyrie Irving‘s injury. Like the other top contenders the Huskies have their own issues to deal with. The Huskies will have to deal with the obvious issue of how their offense functions without Walker dominating the ball, adjusting to having to run more of the offense through the post, and sorting out a rotation that will rely on freshman who are unproven at the college level no matter how talented they are. What Drummond’s decision does mean is that this year’s national championship picture is suddenly a three-horse race and a year in which college basketball was expected to have its most talent in nearly a decade will get even deeper.

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Around The Blogosphere: August 26, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on August 26th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Texas Commit Jaylen Bond Released From Pittsburgh LOI: “Following the Wednesday morning news that Kevin Thomas failed to qualify academically and an all-around rough offseason that saw what could have been high hopes for the coming season come crashing down, Texas basketball fans needed some good news. It came hours later on Wednesday afternoon when the school announced that recent 2012 commit Jaylen Bond was released from his letter or intent to play at Pittsburgh, becoming the ninth (and final) scholarship basketball player for the Longhorns this season and bolstering a thin frontcourt.” (Burnt Orange Nation)
  • ESPN Releases Schedule For Its Annual Tip-Off Marathon: ESPN will be running college basketball games for a full day for the fourth consecutive year. (Gonzaga: The Slipper Still Fits; Washington State: CougCenter)
  • Greg Sequele Will Not Enroll At WSU After Falling Short Of Eligibility Requirements: “Washington State freshman-to-be Greg Sequele won’t actually arrive on campus in Pullman after falling short of eligibility requirements. While Sequele was seen as a raw prospect, and a bit of a project, head coach Ken Bone desperately needed his presence in the post after losing DeAngelo Casto this past offseason. Sequele had yet to show up on campus, and now we know why. According to Vince Grippi on Twitter, Sequele’s inability to meet the eligibility requirements was confirmed by Washington State on Thursday afternoon.” (CougCenter)
  • Kenneth Caldwell is at it again, this time pointing fingers at UL: “The Big Lead picked up on Caldwell’s twitter account, in which he had some thoughts on the connection of Louisville assistant Clint Hurtt to the Miami scandal, and why Louisville should be worried.” (Kentucky Sports Radio)
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Morning Five: 08.26.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 26th, 2011

  1. Isaiah Armwood, who announced that he was leaving Villanova last week, has decided that he will be moving on to George Washington. Armwood, who played at nearby Montrose Christian, should help bolster the frontcourt for a team that has fallen off significantly in the past four seasons after making the NCAA Tournament three consecutive years. Although his contributions to the stat sheet in the past (2.5 points and 3.6 rebounds per game last season) are marginal he was named captain of this year’s team so he should help with the “intangibles” that the team has probably been missing.
  2. It seems like we are always dealing with these conference realignment rumors, but yesterday was a fairly interesting day for the Big 12 as Texas A&M officially told the conference that it was exploring its conference options and Southern Methodist declared its interest in joining the conference. Honestly, from the Big 12′s point of view this would be a pretty significant downgrade unless SMU returns to its “Pony Excess” glory, but realistically as long as the conference has Texas (and maybe Oklahoma) the rest of the conference probably doesn’t matter financially. We know that Kansas runs the conference in basketball, but they are essentially irrelevant in the conference in football with the exception of a few seasons under Mark Mangino.
  3. It appears that Bruce Pearl has already started his PR/spin tour after receiving a three-year show cause penalty from the NCAA. According to Pearl the NCAA is using him as an example and called the sanctions a “very, very heavy price for the mistakes that we’ve made” while criticizing the NCAA’s rulebook for being too onerous. Later in the day, Pearl went on The Doug Gottlieb Show for what turned out to be a fairly insightful interview in which he appeared to throw his assistants under the bus for the infamous photo of him illegally meeting Aaron Craft andJosh Selby. While at some level I understand Pearl’s need to frame this a certain way if he hopes to get back into college basketball I sort of wish he could just own up to what he did without having to cloak it in a handful of qualifiers.
  4. ESPN released the schedule for its Tip-Off Marathon, which is scheduled for November 15th. We will have more on the line-up later, but ESPN appears to have put together a fairly impressive line-up yet again. Obviously this year they are helped by the Champions Classic that features Duke against Michigan State and Kentucky versus Kansas, but Florida at Ohio State may be the best game on the docket. The other intriguing games are Belmont at Memphis and what will probably be George Mason at Virginia Tech. Outside of that the games aren’t particularly noteworthy, but at this point in the year we would take just about anything that we can get.
  5. When we first heard the story of DePaul assistant coach Billy Garrett, who reportedly came back from a trip with the team to Europe to find his house had been burglarized we were shocked. Among the items that were reportedly stolen were some family memorabilia including mementos from his father William, the first African-American player in the Big 10, and shockingly an oxygen tank used by Garrett’s son, who suffers from a form of sickle cell disease. Now news has come out suggesting that the case may be a disagreement between Garrett and his landlord. We aren’t sure which direction this story is going, but we assume that it is going to get very messy.
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What Shall Be The Fate Of Rupp Arena

Posted by jstevrtc on August 25th, 2011

Make your pilgrimage now, Kentucky fans, and take as many photos as you can, for the Rupp Arena you have worshiped for so long is on borrowed time.

An article from Tuesday’s Lexington Herald-Leader by Beverly Fortune and Jerry Tipton has us thinking that it’s merely a question of time, now, and which model to follow. Do the powers that be in the Bluegrass go the Fenway Park route and make piecemeal renovations over several years to the existing structure in downtown Lexington, or do they adopt the Yankee Stadium philosophy and build a brand new church arena elsewhere? Among UK backers, a discussion on this matter can get every bit as heated as one between Red Sox and Yankees fans about which group has the right to claim moral ascendancy.

Renovate the Old Or Start Afresh? Rupp In Its Current Form (image: uky.edu)

Fenway might call itself the oldest sports venue used by a sports franchise in the United States, but it’s undergone an almost yearly series of alterations since 1999 to bring up to speed everything from the sod to the seats to the scoreboards. Heck, there’s even a party deck. Most importantly, the renovations have been so well done that, even though this isn’t your grandfather’s Fenway Park, Boston officials say that the place has another 60 years of life in it and you can forget any plans for a replacement. Yankee Stadium, as we know, received a different treatment; the one built in 1923 hosted its inhabitants for the last time in 2008 and was demolished in 2010, a year after the Yanks had moved into a brand new glittering jewel of a stadium called…Yankee Stadium. Aside from a tendency for balls hit to right field to carry a little longer than they did in the old park (this happened even when the Yankee pitching situation was more stable), it opened to raves, not to mention a championship in its first year.

So what fate, then, for old Rupp Arena? If it can be updated in its current location, should it be? Or is it time for a brand new facility?

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Around The Blogosphere: August 25, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on August 25th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Longhorn Basketball Recruit Kevin Thomas Fails to Qualify: “The bad news just keeps coming for the Texas Longhorns basketball team. Canadian Kevin Thomas, a 6-7 wing from the same AAU program that produced Cory Joseph, Tristan Thompson, and Myck Kabongo, failed to qualify academically and will attend a junior college this season, according to a Longhorn official Wednesday.” (Burnt Orange Nation)
  • The NCAA Hands Down Penalties For Tennessee: “The hammer has finally fallen on Tennessee, albeit rather gently and without much damage to their sports programs.  Not so for coach Bruce Pearl and his assistants.” (A Sea of Blue)
  • Schedules for the 2011-2012 Season: Several major programs released their schedules for the coming season. (UNC: Tar Heel Fan; Maryland: Testudo Times; NC State: State Fans Nation; Virginia Tech: Tech Hoops)
  • Jordan Hulls talks about leadership role: “Indiana guard Jordan Hulls was made available to the media this afternoon and there was plenty of talk about embracing a leadership role as he prepares for his junior season.” (Inside the Hall)
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Morning Five: 08.25.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 25th, 2011

  1. Bruce Pearl received his punishment yesterday from the NCAA and although he did receive a show cause penalty under the language of the document (PDF here) he would be allowed to be hired by a university, but could not participate in any recruiting activities until August 23, 2014. While some consider this to be a harsh penalty there are ways to work around this (having a strong recruiting staff that can talk up Pearl). In the end it seems to be a much lighter penalty than we would have expected for a head coach who willfully violated NCAA rules and then lied to the NCAA about having done so (don’t forget that Dez Bryant lost all of his eligibility for lying about something that wasn’t even a violation). Put another way, the violation is light enough that Mike DeCourcy at The Sporting News is advocating for Pearl to be hired. If the NCAA wants to coaches and administrators to follow their rules they need to put in place that would make violators radioactive.
  2. Recently-retired Maryland head coach Gary Williams will receive $400,000 per year for the next five years for his job to help with fundraising and speaking engagement “from time to time as reasonably requested”. While the figure is a far cry from the $2.3 million that Williams received in 2010 it is a substantial paycheck for someone who no longer has to deal with the rigors of coaching in the ACC. We aren’t sure what Williams deems reasonable, but that actually doesn’t sound like a horrible deal when you consider that the new coach Mark Turgeon will be making $1.9 million and Williams will probably raise a lot more money on the road than a coach that is unproven at the school.
  3. After initially committing to Xavier as a member of the class of 2012, 7’5″ recruit Sim Bhullar has decided to enroll at New Mexico State this fall due to what Bhullar and his family call “unique clearinghouse issues that have forced us to really examine the best course of action”. Neither Bhullar nor the involved programs have expounded on what those issues were, but apparently they were big enough that Bhullar opted not to spend a year in prep school in West Virginia before trying to become eligible and instead will pay his way at New Mexico State for the first year. Bhullar, who has a stated intention of playing in the NBA in two years, will join a roster that features five other Canadians.
  4. Texas was dealt a setback today when Kevin Thomas, an incoming freshman from Canada, was declared academically ineligible. Normally losing a three-star recruit wouldn’t be a big blow to a team with a roster as talented as what the Longhorns, but this isn’t a typical Rick Barnes team. Instead of a roster that goes ten deep, the Longhorns are currently left with a team of eight scholarship players with five of those being freshman and only three of the eight being frontcourt players. The announcement means that the Longhorns will be pushing even harder for Pittsburgh to release Jaylen Bond from his signed letter of intent and allow him to play for Texas now instead of having to sit out a year.
  5. We have been hearing fans claiming for years that Tom Crean has Indiana on the road back to glory. Today, they have ESPN’s new recruiting rankings for the class of 2012 to point to as proof after ESPN ranked the Hoosiers current recruiting class of 2012 as the best in the country (may or may not require Insider access). Realistically though it is way too early to even bother with class rankings. Just scanning the order of these rankings, which has several programs that aren’t considered traditional recruiting powers at the top, should tell you something is a bit fishy with these rankings. Basically none of the top players have committed, which makes these rankings meaningless. Pittsburgh, for example, is ranked 4th in the country with one recruit. Kentucky, which has dominated the recruiting circuit since John Calipari‘s arrival, isn’t even in the top 25 because nobody has committed to them yet since they are recruiting all the top guys in the class. We are pretty sure the Wildcats will find a way to sneak into the top 25 when all is said and done.
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Bruce Pearl’s Show Cause: Which Schools Might Take a Shot at Him?

Posted by rtmsf on August 24th, 2011

News leaked on Tuesday night that the NCAA will hit Bruce Pearl with a three-year “show cause” penalty for his role in facilitating and later lying about numerous violations while acting as the Tennessee head basketball coach from 2005-11.  We all remember the story of NCAA investigators presenting Pearl with a photograph of current Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft standing next to him at his own cookout, and his subsequent disavowal of knowledge of such a thing.  But his transgressions were considerably more than that incident alone — it was the systematic and rather clumsy attempts at a subsequent cover-up that ultimately doomed the jocular head coach to the harsh penalty he faces today.  Here’s the relevant statement from the NCAA’s 21-page Infractions Report:

A Scene at Pearl's Home, Apparently (credit: KSR)

From the 2008-09 academic year through June 14, 2010, the former head men’s basketball coach acted contrary to the principle of ethical conduct when he knowingly engaged in violations of NCAA recruiting legislation and failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standards of honesty and sportsmanship normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics by providing false and misleading information to the institution and the enforcement staff and by attempting to influence others to furnish the institution and enforcement staff false and misleading information concerning their involvement in or knowledge of matters relevant to a violation of an NCAA regulation.

Ouch.  Once again, the lesson learned from an organization in an authoritative position is that the cover-up carries more weight than the actual crime.

What does this really mean, though?  It seems as if most commentators are interpreting this as an effective banishment of Pearl from the NCAA for the next several years as a direct result of carrying a cheetos-colored letter on his chest, but a reading of the fine print of the NCAA’s report shows that this isn’t true.  Mike DeCourcy points out in an article today that the “show cause” is one of the most misunderstood penalties that the NCAA has at its disposal.  Even a spectacularly reliable source such as Wikipedia states in its first sentence about such a penalty that “a coach involved in major rules violations at a university’s athletic program may not be hired by any other NCAA member institutions without permission from the Infractions Committee for a set period of time.”

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Frank Martin Weighs In On Paying Athletes

Posted by nvr1983 on August 24th, 2011

Over the past few months there has been quite a bit of discussion about the possibility that schools might pay their athletes (legally) in the near future based on reports that the Big Ten was looking into the option. The topic has been discussed ad nauseum by administrators, pundits, and fans weighing in on both sides of the debate with the majority apparently favoring a system where players get paid. Interestingly, one group that has been noticeably silent is the coaches. Outside of a small group of football coaches in the SEC who supported paying players very few coaches have gone on the record about the topic. To our knowledge the few college basketball who have spoken out on the issue like Mike Krzyzewski and John Calipari have been supportive of the idea (ok, Calipari’s ideas go a bit beyond supportive). Today, one prominent college basketball coach, Frank Martin, came out against the idea in a pair of tweets (#1 and #2) earlier this afternoon.

Martin, who has long been known for his antics on the court, isn’t as well known for his views on policy issues, but it appears that he feels pretty strongly on the topic of paying players. While his stance may go against popular opinion, he does make a good point that paying athletes creates its own problems notably a more uneven playing field even if the more cynical (or possibly realistic) fans think that the big-money schools are already paying players while the smaller schools are left to work with the players who are happy just to get some money off their college tuition. It also could make the act of paying athletes beyond whatever the set amount is a less significant offense in the eyes of booster and program administrators creating a slippery slope where increasing payments could be seen as insignificant offenses.

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Did You Really Expect Pat Summitt To Go Quietly?

Posted by jstevrtc on August 24th, 2011

We don’t often wander into the territory of women’s college basketball. In the past, it’s taken some landmark occurrence — say, a coach reaching one of those round-number milestone games, or some ridiculous play, or an awesome fight may have gotten a mention in the Morning 5. This isn’t really because of any animosity or lack of respect toward the women’s game. It’s simply not what we cover. You could say the same thing for the men’s game in Division II or III. It’s not what our editors and correspondents all have in common. Only the most extremely newsworthy circumstances would result in a mention around here.

Unfortunately, something extremely newsworthy happened yesterday.

Summitt's Greatest Coaching Lesson Is Yet To Come

By now, you’ve heard the news that Tennessee coaching legend Pat Summitt has been diagnosed with a disease called early-onset dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. There’s a good chance you’ve read at least one or two of the glowing articles about Summitt, all unquestionably well-founded in their praise and their rememberances of her career. Other than to mention that surreal number of career wins and preposterous-looking record — that’d be 1,071-199 and counting (on which more in a moment), an 84.3% win rate — we will not cover that well-documented ground here. We’re not going to use this woman being diagnosed with a cruel disease as a reason to start talking about women’s college basketball or what she’s meant to that game like we’ve been secretly following it all along as some sort of afterthought. We all know she’s a legend, a title she’s earned regardless of her gender or that of the athletes she coaches. Everyone’s aware of how she belongs in the discussion, if not carved into the theoretical rock, of possible candidates for a basketball coaches’ Mount Rushmore, if one were ever to be constructed. She needs our approval about as much as she needs a flat tire or an IRS audit.

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Around The Blogosphere: August 24, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on August 24th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

General News

  • Bruce Pearl Expected to Receive “Show Cause” Penalty: Reports indicate that the former Tennessee coach will receive a multi-year show cause penalty. (A Sea of Blue)
  • USA 86, Germany 83: “Team USA earned it’s sixth win of the World University Games tournament and secured fifth place with a three point win over Team Germany, 86-83.” (Villanova by the Numbers and The Daily Gopher)
  • Billy Gillispie already causing problems at Texas Tech: Reports of multiple staff members leaving including at least one after an altercation with Gillispie. (Kentucky Sports Radio)
  • Lakers’ Luke Walton to play assistant coach at Memphis during NBA lockout: “Walton was recommended by Memphis Tigers head coach Josh Pastner to become an assistant coach on his staff, a move that will go through barring any disapproval by the Tennessee Board of Regents or the school itself.” (Arizona Desert Swarm)
  • Pittsburgh’s Non-Conference Schedule: A look at a fairly benign list of opponents. (Pitt Blather)
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Morning Five: 08.24.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 24th, 2011

  1. Although we focus primarily (OK, solely) on men’s basketball, we would be remiss if we did not talk about Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt, who disclosed yesterday that she was suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. In addition to announcing the news, Summitt also stated she intended to continue coaching her basketball team next season and for the foreseeable future. We are sure that many members of our audience have either had loved ones or interacted with individuals who suffered from this progressively debilitating condition. Like the rest of the college basketball community, we wish Summitt the best of luck in her battle with Alzheimer’s. Also if you are going to read just one column about Summitt today, we suggest this piece by Sally Jenkins in The Washington Post.
  2. The day’s other big college basketball news also came out of Tennessee, but this time it came from the men’s program where it appears that recently-fired head coach Bruce Pearl will receive a three-year show cause penalty while three of his assistants will receive one-year show cause penalties. Outside of the penalties against these four coaches and the school’s previous self-imposed ones, the school got off with relatively little damage, including the football program and former coach Lane Kiffin. For new coach Cuonzo Martin this means that he has an opportunity to rebuild the program without having to deal with a significant amount of fallout from Pearl’s prior indiscretions. As for Pearl and his assistants, this means that they will have to be away from the game of basketball for a little while. Oh wait, the NBA…
  3. It seems like the athletic department at Miami just can’t seem to catch a break. First there was Reggie Johnson‘s knee injury that will sideline him until at least the start of ACC play. Then there was the small matter of the ongoing Nevin Shapiro debacle. Now there is news that senior Julian Gamble may be lost for the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee. Gamble’s junior year numbers (3.8 PPG and 4.0 RPG) might not make this seem like a big loss, but in the context of losing Johnson’s huge inside presence, the injury to Gamble will make life even more difficult for new coach Jim Larranaga. The way things are going, Frank Martin must be feeling pretty good about being passed over for the Miami job.
  4. If any coach in men’s college basketball is having a worse summer than Larranaga it may be new Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie. After being caught up in not one, but two high-profile Ponzi schemes, the former Kentucky coach finds himself in the news again after Sports by Brooks reported that he was already causing havoc within the basketball program in Lubbock. In addition to having several members of the staff leave the program, Gillispie was reportedly in “multiple, heated altercations” with an assistant, who eventually left. It is possible that Gillispie might just be the unluckiest guy in college basketball, but at this rate he may develop a reputation bad enough to make him untouchable, even with his stellar resume prior to his arrival in Lexington.
  5. A number of big-time recruits in the class of 2012 announced that their “lists” had shrunk yesterday, but only one — Kris Dunn – is set to make a verbal commitment. According to Adam Zagoria, Dunn, one of the top point guards in this year’s senior class, is set to commit to Providence at a conference at 1 PM today. While this would be a huge pick-up for new coach Ed Cooley it is worth pointing out that the Friars also had a verbal commitment from Ricardo Ledo earlier this year, but he later backed out of the commitment, although Ledo is still considering the Friars in his new final five. The lesson here is that while you should be happy when a recruit commits to your school, don’t get too excited until he signs a letter or, even better, sets foot on campus.
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