Recruiting is an aspect of basketball that floats the hopes and dreams of college hoops fans but it is also the element that brings out the worst -- it always has and always will -- in coaches, players, family members, shoe/apparel companies and, of course, anonymous message board posters. Money-to-be-had fuels most of the behavior but, as for the latter, it's the opportunity to offer bombastic screeds -- aka too dangerous -- to be said face-to-face
Posting about where a prospect is leaning, committed, signed or any other status such as how he is playing generates reaction -- typically uninformed -- beyond the pale.
Applause, jeers, putdowns -- all the way stations of the spectrum -- burst forth. The level of animosity can be bewildering.
The sound and fury surrounding say someone like Drew Gordon's ceiling and college destination is a prime example. Granted it didn't equal the steroidal firestorm of the recent Lindsay Lohan media debacle but, more than was appropriate, bore a striking resemblance to individuals reacting as if Gordon had fouled their front lawns and escaped unpunished.
In reality, it was a 16 or 17-year-old kid playing a game yet a human dartboard full of code red venom strikes burst forth.
Why the wading into the personal end of the pool at all?
It's both fine and fair to have an opinion. It's even better when personal qualifications provide the background for such judgment calls. But wishes for struggles or even failure cross the line of decency..
No, all behavior need not be Little Mary Sunshine-ish 24/7 but where is the validity and what is there to gain from lambasting a high school youth?
Also, what about the club team coaches, relatives and billion dollar corporations who besmirch the game with their commodity trading behavior and other antics?
It's fair to question 'why should anyone be surprised by this occurring in the basketball realm?' After all, name any aspect of moneymaking life unburdened by parasitical behavior?
But still, the taking advantage of those too young, still very malleable, is simply pimping.
When a goodly number of these youngsters aren't privy to a positive role model, it's incumbent on the adults surrounding these kids to act as such and to not wave some Benjamins or, at the lowest level, new threads and shoes to incentivize kids to switch teams and allegiances.
On the flip side, the players and especially their families, fall short in their own behavior and invite such who-is-the highest-bidder behavior.
But all this would be incomplete though without recognizing the truly selfless adults, the ones minus the hidden motives and faulty agendas. These are the beneficial contributors to society, the individuals who add betterment during their lifetimes and understand it is not about them.
Theirs is a positive legacy.
Then there is the labeling of young men who change schools as some sort of an epidemic is simply a negative reaction to common, everyday events.
Folks -- divorce happens. Jobs are changed. If having previous girlfriends or boyfriends cue up a bad rap, then we are sunk as a society. In the pitching woo stage, a lot is said that isn't necessarily true.
It certainly can be but deciding to attend a different college isn't automatically an undeniable flighty change of mind. But yes, having three D-1 colleges or a lengthy mix of two and four year schools on your basketball resume is hard to validate.
When a basketballer sets foot on campus, the transactional phrase 'what have you done for me lately?' becomes the standard operating procedure.
It's produce, or else.
Granted, it cuts both ways as the grass can appear greener elsewhere for players while coaches backtrack when alluring new prospects are poised to say yes or contracts with more zeroes are dangled by another school.
However, an epidemic label is simply too broad a brushstroke. Individual, case-by-case analysis is required before issuing any judgment.
Thankfully, today's sermonette has concluded.