The Harassment of Billy Gillispie by that Coward the NABC

Posted by rtmsf on September 30th, 2008

For the second time since last spring’s Mario Miracle, the NABC has put out a statement that squarely fixes its crosshairs on Kentucky’s second-year coach, Billy Gillispie.  Certainly you remember the June directive the NABC made to stop recruiting junior high players in the wake of the media firestorm over Gillispie’s recruiting of 8th grader Michael Avery.  We wrote at the time:

Luckily, this may be a situation where coaches were doing it because they felt they needed to avoid a competitive disadvantage.  Now that the NABC has effectively disavowed this as a strategy (although it is still legal), coaches [including Gillispie] appear to be supportive of the line-drawing.

(Ed Note:  apparently another Billy, as in Billy Donovan, didn’t get that memo from the NABC.)Andy Katz now reports on his blog today that the NABC put forth a new statement yesterday that admonishes coaches for using their early autumn ’skill development’ time (2 hours/week) prior to full practices for recruiting purposes.  More specifically, they don’t want schools to bump up their Midnight Madness festivities to a preceding weekend so as to take advantage of a more favorable recruiting scenario (i.e., big football game on campus, local stripper convention, the fact that nobody else is having Midnight Madness that weekend).  Why is this important now?  Because Kentucky and Illinois (with its gimmicky outdoor practice) are planning on having their Midnight Madnesses a week prior to the ‘official’ start of practice.  The NABC statement (via Katz):

The NABC board of directors said that “skill development events should not be open to the public.” The NABC said the initial intent was for coaches to assist their players in skill development and create stronger relationships. But by “making such skill development sessions public events, they appear to be geared more for recruiting than skill development sessions.”

Coach Gillispie, godlovehim, just cannot resist pushing the envelope when it comes to the NCAA rulebook.  We’re not saying that he’s breaking any rules – hell, we’re not even saying that he’s bending them – but like any fastidious attorney, he manages to consistently find the gray nether-regions where legislative intent meets bright-line rule, and he forces those in charge to make decisions.

Bring It On, NABC!  (photo credit: AP/Ed Reinke)

Our take on these early Midnight Madness celebrations is such: we tend to like orderliness when it comes to college hoops, as in…  we’d like to know with assurance when Opening Night will be or when the Final Four will be.  So we’re 100% in agreement with the NABC on this one – can’t we just all agree to have Midnight Madness on the same night, and preferably, AT MIDNIGHT?  If the NCAA has to mandate this, so be it – add another page to the 17-lb rulebook.   

Update (10/1): Jeff Goodman weighs in with this background information about the NABC:

Word is that there were numerous coaches on a conference call who were less than thrilled with Gillispie’s decision. They feel that the NCAA allows the coaches the two hours per week for skill development and Gillispie is taking advantage of the rule.  It was the unanimous decision of the Board that skill development events should not be open to the public.

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6.24.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on June 24th, 2008

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A Smidge of Sanity in the Recruiting World?

Posted by rtmsf on June 20th, 2008

We wanted to reflect on this before it got too stale.  Wednesday the NABC strongly recommended that the growing practice of college coaches targeting middle-school kids as prospects unconditionally end.  This is in light of the uproar that ensued in May when uber-recruiter Billy Gillispie at Kentucky received a verbal commitment from Michael Avery, a 6’4 eighth-grader from southern California who had not yet even picked a high school, much less a college.

Will This Kid Be Any Good in Four Years?

Gillispie took the brunt of the criticism in the national media, but he wasn’t the first or only coach who was using this questionable (but legal) strategy to ‘lock up’ young players who arguably have no idea what the concept of going to college means yet.  Anong others, Tim Floyd at USC and Bruce Weber (two mentions in one day!!) at Illinois have also made use of this practice.  The NABC, ironically led by Tubby Smith (the former UK coach who withstood increasingly harsh criticism, some legit, some not, based on his recruiting while in Lexington), asked all college coaches to hold off on offering scholarships or accepting commitments from prospects until mid-June after their sophomore year in high school, stating that younger players:

[They] have not yet displayed sufficient academic credentials or, in the vast majority of cases, basketball maturity to accurately project them as admissible students to the institution or impact players on the basketball team. [...] The academic and athletic profiles of these younger students are still very much works in progress. Coaches and athletes need to respect the process and allow development to occur in both areas prior to making commitments.

Already Committed to Maryland

While I often agree with and respect the reasoned discourse made by the esteemed Truzenzuzex at A Sea of Blue, the Kentucky blog of record as far as we’re concerned, we never could quite get over the smell test on this one.  Notwithstanding the arguments of caveat emptor and the lack of any enforceability of such early commitments, this whole situation just had a backroom feel of predatory extortion, an awkward taking advantage of kids (and parents) who may not know any better.  We view it as not dissimilar to the equally distasteful Sonny Vaccaro-bred fast-tracking of certain kids to certain schools based on implicit promises and subsequent shoe company representation.

Luckily, this may be a situation where coaches were doing it because they felt they needed to avoid a competitive disadvantage.  Now that the NABC has effectively disavowed this as a strategy (although it is still legal), coaches appear to be supportive of the line-drawing.  Billy Gillispie stated today:

I fully support anything the coaches’ leadership and governing body thinks is best for college basketball and high school-age basketball players.  It’s not like you’re not going to go out and evaluate young players. They’ve just strongly encouraged us not to seek a commitment, offer a scholarship, those kinds of things, which we definitely will adhere to.

What will be an interesting test of a coach shadiness factor (yeah you, Huggins, and you too, Gary) is to see who obliges the NABC with this directive to avoid recruiting the youngsters.  Nevertheless, we think this is ultimately a move in the right direction.

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05.07.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 7th, 2008

Today’s rantings of a wild man…

  • Duke promoted former Devil (96-01) Nate James to assistant coach in Johnny Dawkins’ old spot, ensuring that K’s bench is now filled with former underachievers feisty players.
  • Lots of bad things happening at Arizona these days.
  • South Carolina’s Devan Downey apparently decked someone on campus last week (he has been suspended). 
  • Transfers – Jeremiah Rivers (Doc’s son) is leaving Georgetown, and Indiana’s Eli Holman (of potted plant fame) is following an assistant coach (Ray McCallum) to Detroit Mercy. 
  • Bob Huggins’ new contract with WVU stipulates he can be fired for habitual intoxication.  Habitual intoxication…  is that three or four times a week?
  • Billy Gillispie has his eye on a few more middle schoolers besides Michael Avery for the class of 2012.
  • There were 69 early entries this year, many of whom are only “testing the waters.”  Goodman says this puts coaches in a bind. 
  • The Jewish Jordan (Zach Feinstein) seeks to top the NBA Draft this year…
  • Alabama St. (mostly football) and Florida International show that not only the big boys are cheating these days. 
  • We missed this a week or so ago, but Dan Hanner at YABB has some great data (regressions are fun, kids!) on coaches and how well they recruit and perform in the regular season and NCAA Tournament. 
  • M2M is counting down the top 10 most embarrassing moments in college basketball history.  Some good stuff on there. 
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