Morning Five: 05.10.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 10th, 2013


  1. In yesterday’s M5, we linked to an LA Times article exploring how new USC head coach Andy Enfield is taking to his new environs in Hollywood. What’s been forgotten amid all the buzz surrounding Enfield is the school that allowed him to become a household name in the first place — Florida Gulf Coast. According to the Fort Myers (FL) News-Press, new head coach Joe Dooley has been adjusting to the job through a whirlwind of recruiting trips, a national search for an assistant coach, and getting to know his returning players. One interesting idea put forth in the article is that Dooley appears to be looking at graduating seniors with another year of eligibility as a quick solution to gather some quick elite-level talent. It’s not a bad thought, especially considering that the brand recognition of FGCU is likely to give the program a number of marquee non-conference games next season, a nice selling point for players at bigger schools who might be looking to trade down for one year.
  2. Mike DeCourcy is back with his Starting Five column this week, and he took some time out from his trip to the British Isles to tackle several interesting subjects: notably, Andrew Wiggins, Andy Enfield, and our favorite, RTCing. On the subject of Wiggins and where he thinks he’s headed (or should head) next season, he couldn’t have been more politically savvy, writing 200 words on the “prediction” without actually answering his own question! With respect to Enfield, he gives the new USC head coach a puncher’s chance at making Trojans basketball a hot ticket, but we’re in agreement with him that the focus of the school on football makes it a very tough place to become truly relevant. Finally, he also attacks the practice of RTCing as a “massive potential liability,” and of course he’s right on that point — but it’s also incredibly fun for the students involved, and love it or hate it — ahem, we fall in the love category — it’s one of the few unique traditions that college basketball can claim as its very own, and we hope that it remains part of that fabric of the sport for as long as we’re around.
  3. Yesterday’s transfer news includes a couple of good players looking to take advantage of the graduate exception to play their final season immediately at their new location. Florida State forward Terrence Shannon announced that he will enroll at VCU for his last campaign, giving Shaka Smart’s already-talented Rams a big and athletic post player who can team up with Juvonte Reddic and Treveon Graham in an outstanding frontcourt next season. Out west, Arizona State’s Evan Gordon has been granted his release and is rumored to be considering a transfer closer to his home in Indiana for his last season. The obvious choice for Gordon would be Tom Crean’s Hoosiers, given that older brother Eric played in Bloomington a few years ago, and the personnel losses that IU faces this offseason. As players around the country move toward graduation and recognize the immediate value of this exception, we expect to see quite a few more of these free agency situations before the month is out. Somewhere up in Wisconsin, Bo Ryan just kicked his dog.
  4. One of the best movies of all-time is the documentary Hoop Dreams, a Chicago prep basketball saga that follows the high school careers of William Gates and Arthur Agee through their many ups and downs. Both Gates and Agee have reached middle age by now, but they remain quasi-celebrities by virtue of their affiliation with the movie and the raw reality of the stories they told. The Dagger‘s Jeff Eisenberg tells the story of William Gates, Jr., Gates’ son, who as a high school senior at Samuel Clemens High School in San Antonio, just recently accepted a scholarship offer to play Division I basketball at Furman. Anyone who struggled with the disappointments that the elder Gates suffered after blowing out his knee in Chicago two decades ago has to love this story of a family’s redemption. Great piece of work here.
  5. Finally, in a sad testimony of just how far the industry of journalism has fallen (and the end seemingly nowhere in sight), the New York Daily News laid off longtime college basketball scribe Dick “Hoops” Weiss. A mentor to many in the business and a true gentleman admired by everyone privileged to have met him at MSG or one of his 40+ trips to the NCAA Tournament, we surely hope that he will find a comfortable landing spot somewhere else. It’s a shame that someone so influential to the game of college basketball for nearly a half-century can be thrown out like yesterday’s news, but as we’ve said many times before, the modern era of reporting and sports writing seemingly will not stop itself in its vulgar race to the very bottom.
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The RTC Interview Series: One on One With Arthur Agee

Posted by rtmsf on September 3rd, 2010

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: an Interview Series, which we hope to publish weekly on Friday mornings throughout the year.  If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at

Arthur Agee is one of the inimitable names in basketball circles for his excruciatingly real portrayal of a hotshot recruit with dreams of the NBA in one of the greatest documentaries of all-time, Hoop Dreams.  The movie tracked Agee and his Chicago compatriot, William Gates, as they moved through the shady underworld of high school basketball star-making and college basketball recruiting in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Agee, the player who seemed more likely to end up on the wrong path as a result of his tough home life, ended up winning the Chicago Public League championship in 1991 and attending Arkansas State on scholarship.  While he nor Gates never made it to the NBA, they both have found meaning through their experiences captured on film to pass on their lessons to youngsters in the community: Gates as a pastor, and Agee as a motivational speaker who travels around the country inspiring students to follow their “hoop dreams” in all walks of life.  Agee was kind enough to speak with us last week.

Rush The Court: Arthur, talk to us a little bit about what you’re doing these days with your foundation (Arthur Agee Foundation) and your upcoming Hoop Dreams Tour (@HoopDreams2010 on Twitter) in October.

Arthur Agee: My Arthur Agee role model foundation involves me speaking and doing motivational things for kids.  The tour coming up with Mike Brown at Hoop Connection will have us traveling around from city to city [scheduled cities: Chicago, Orlando, Dallas, Sacramento] in October to help young athletes in those places pursue their hoop dreams.  We’ll be picking one person in each of those places to tell his or her story about their struggle and try to help them achieve their hoop dream — whether it’s a scholarship to college, a job in coaching or whatever else.  Our hope is that a reality televison show will pick it up and air what happens while we’re on this tour.

Agee Reached his Athletic Pinnacle at Marshall, But Much More Was on the Way

RTC: It’s amazing that this low-budget independent movie still has so much resonance over fifteen years later.  We hear from basketball fans regularly that it’s their favorite movie of all-time.  Can you discuss how you’re trying to use the opportunities it is still providing for you now?

AA: Well, realize that my family didn’t see any money from “Hoop Dreams” the movie.  Maybe $150,000 to $200,000.  The filmmakers saw it as a stepping stone project for themselves, but often times we were forgotten about.  That said, they have authorized me to use the name Hoop Dreams to brand it.  A consultant we talked to says there might be about $4 million left in it, so we got permission from the filmmakers to start a full clothing line — sneakers, hats, and so on.  So that’s the business challenge that I’m currently facing with it — branding Hoop Dreams and making it profitable.

RTC: What about the movie itself?  What has changed from those days and what life lessons can you give to young people today as a result of your experiences?

AA: Well, the basketball landscape has changed.  From the mid-90s until a few years ago, you could jump straight to the NBA from high school.  But the statistics on actually making it to the pros is really small.  Kids should be thinking about the primary goal to get a scholarship to college, and let the rest take care of itself.  I use a phrase, “Education is a necessity… basketball is a privilege,” and it’s true.  In the movie we did a couple of years ago, “Hoop Reality,” which was a fifteen-year follow-up to “Hoop Dreams,” I helped Patrick Beverley achieve his hoop dream.  We focused on him in the movie, and he eventually went to Arkansas on a scholarship and just recently signed a $1.5 million deal with the Miami Heat.  At Arkansas State, I had to do everything on my own to get noticed, and some agents came to me because of the movie, but that was about it.

Many of the Lessons From 20 Years Ago Are the Same

RTC: How is your relationship with co-star William Gates [a minister in the Chicago area now] from the movie?

AA: Will is great, and I keep up with him quite a bit. You have to keep in mind, though, that William Gates in the movie was still a lot better player than a lot of people with two good knees.  His son, Will Jr., is sixteen now [Class of 2013] and at St. Joseph’s just like we were.  Still with Coach [Gene] Pingatore!  I’d tell him what I’d tell anybody with a hoop dream — live your hoop dreams and control your own destiny, which means to go hard after whatever you want and don’t let anybody else get in your way.

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07.23.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 23rd, 2009

It’s actually been a fairly busy week in the world of college hoops despite the mid-summer lull, so let’s take a look at some of the other key stories coming down the pike…

  • Hoop Dreams, 15 Years Later.  This week in his Hoops Thoughts column, Seth Davis pushed us down memory lane to the grungy days of 1994, a year of Cobain, Madonna’s undies and OJ’s white Bronco, but also of a bedraggled jewel of a documentary called “Hoop Dreams.”  We have a fair amount of younger readers on this site, so if you’ve never seen this movie, stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW, and rent it on Netflix or your local movie shop.  It is without question the best basketball film ever made.  Davis’ summary of the movie is good so we won’t belabor that here, but even fifteen years later, the movie holds its color, bouquet and taste much better than most items from that era.  We slightly quibble with Davis on his contention that HD was the first reality tv (The Real World says hello) or that the two players featured in the film, William Gates and Arthur Agee, were ordinary people (their extraordinary skills at basketball at a young age is what made them not ordinary), but we completely agree with his fundamental assessment that the authenticity behind these two players’ struggles still resonates today.  The early 90s, when Gates and Agee were documented in the film, was an era at the edge of a precipice in two key cultural shifts that are still impacting the game: 1) the worldwide online revolution of 1995, which has impacted scouting and recruiting in an exponential fashion now that players can be commodified based on Youtube clips and independent assessments from anywhere on the globe; and 2) Kevin Garnett’s decision to go to the NBA straight out of HS in 1995 led to a sea change in how high school players were viewed, pushing scouting (and dreams of riches) earlier and earlier into a player’s development.  From a re-viewing of the movie in 2009, it’s easy to see the seeds of World Wide Wes and his ilk as assembly-line talent evaluator-cum-agents strategically dropping their whispers of fame and fortune into player family’s ears at a young age.  What was once limited to the bigger cities and at a much smaller scale is now ubiquitous; where elite players were once counseled by their coach (as in, their HS coach, not their AAU coach), they now listen to runners and quasi-representatives from shoe companies.  All of the dirty elements that are plaguing today’s amateur player development and the college game are there on display, in a rawer, more transparent form, in Hoop Dreams.  The authenticity of how the system uses these players, only to spit them out when they’re no longer useful, is front and center – how have things changed?  Thanks to Seth for re-awakening everyone to this movie – it’s a must-see.     
  • SEC-TV.  Starting this fall, the SEC announced that it will broadcast an all-SEC sports network as part of its new $2.25B deal with ESPN.  The SEC Network (through ESPN Regional) will syndicate its college football and basketball games to 73 (and counting) markets, but what makes this announcement particularly compelling is how the SEC has strategically decided to move outside its traditional nine-state southeastern footprint for this deal.  Local affiliates in the major markets of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as the three major Texas cities, are included in this deal, which unequivocally shows that the SEC isn’t playing games in terms of its foray to dominate college sports through national recruiting.  Where this could really pay dividends is not with the Kentuckys and Floridas, but with the Mississippi States and the Georgias of the SEC.  If games involving those teams are on tv in major media markets showing recruits a fun, winning style, they might be more inclined to consider going there over local state U.  How will the other leagues react?
  • F the Gazelle Group.  They’re back again this season with another faux-tournament in the form of the Legends Classic.  Remember our piece shredding them on this last year?  If you don’t, here’s a refresher.  The Gazelle Group got upset when little Gardner-Webb upset Kentucky in Rupp two years ago during a preliminary round game, meaning that the legions of UK fans they expected to buy tickets the next week weren’t showing.  So what’d they do the next year – they fixed the tournament!  Yep, all four of the ‘host’ teams get automatic entry to the Championship Rounds (final four teams) despite what happens in the prelims.  Total asinine garbage.  This year’s four faux-champs?  Michigan St., Rutgers, Florida and UMass.  MSU-Florida could be interesting, and definitely keep an eye on summer hotshot Mike Rosario from Joisey (playing in AC). 
  • Quick Hits.  Anthony Mason, Jr.: back in a Johnnies uni for 09-10.  Jim Calhoun: still going full boreJosh Selby/World Wide Wes: that’s just messed upWooden Classic: Georgetown v. Washington; UCLA v. Mississippi St.  Coach K: are Duke fans mad atchaMurray Bartow: 2-year extension at ETSU.  Dickie V: Summer Rolls-RoycersTop 25 Recruits: broken downGary Parrish: on the summer circuitSix OTs: enjoyAntonio Burks: recovering after robbery where he was shot.  Centenary: downgrading to D3WCC Tourney: in Vegas through 2012 (at least).  2010 Vegas Odds: sell Louisville
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