Posts Tagged Recruiting

A look at KU’s 2013 recruiting class (Part 1)

Posted on: May 12th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

As promised, I am bringing you a FOUR part blog post highlighting players in the Class of 2013 that Bill Self has offered as well as other guys that he and his staff are watching. Part 1 includes a breakdown of the two players that have already given KU a verbal commitment – Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene.

Part 2 will review the high major recruits that Self is making a top priority (Chris Walker, Julius Randle, Allerik Freeman, etc.) Part 3 will review all the remaining players that Self is known to have offered a scholarship from the ’13 class. Last, Part 4 will review those players that Self and Co. have been scouting and talking to. Many of the Part 4 players may eventually be offered a scholarship as back-up plans or if their stock continues to rise.

With that all said, let’s get started.

Conner Frankamp, PG – Committed

Notes:

Review (and my take):

“Kansas has been my dream school since I was young.” – Conner Frankamp

You have to like a guy that has always dreamed of playing in a Kansas uniform. You have to like him even more if he has high major skills. Frankamp’s AAU coach, L.J. Goolsby, says Frankamp is a natural. He says that his guard makes it look effortless and that he’s in full control of the pace of the game. He’s very competitive and willing to burden the offensive load or get his teammates involved – whatever it takes to win.

When asked who Frankamp reminds him of, Goolsby said he can score like Jimmer and make incredible passing plays like Bobby Hurley (isn’t it funny how white dudes are always compared to other white dudes? I digress).

I watched Conner play a few times in person and I have to say I was thrilled with his game. He doesn’t look physically imposing at all, but he is sneaky athletic (yeah, more stereotypes). He clearly needs to grow and gain some muscle, but the good news is that he has a strong base. He isn’t scrawny in the shoulders or ankles, giving him room for some more mass.

He handles the ball extremely well. His best attribute other than scoring is definitely his ability to change speeds. He has a good crossover and can mask his move before he makes it. His best attribute, however, is his ability to score the basketball. He does have some Jimmer-like qualities in that he has an advanced offensive game and can score from anywhere in any fashion. If you step off of him, he’ll bury a long jumper. If you crowd him, he’ll find a way around you.

He needs to improve his defense on the next level and he needs to get in the weight room. Other than that, I think he’ll be a player Kansas fans will absolutely love.

Final link: A blurry twitvid of him dunking on some poor kid. 

 

Brannen Greene, SF – Committed

Notes:

Review (and my take):

“I just feel Kansas is a place I can excel not only athletically, but academically, socially. It’s a perfect environment” – Brannen Greene

Greene’s dad played at nearby Pittsburg State. In 1989, Jeffrey Greene broke the Pitt State scoring average record when he went for 24.8 points per game. Since that time, the elder Greene had been a fan of the Jayhawks. He has an even bigger reason to cheer now.

The first thing you see in Brannen is his size. He’s tall for the 2-guard position at 6’7, but he has the game to play it. At KU, he’ll most likely play a Brandon Rush-type position on the wing. It is actually a pretty good comparison as Brannen has a beautiful release from beyond the arc, especially in the corner. He also has a great baseline drive in his arsenal that results in either a mid-range jump shot or a dunk in your eye.

Like Rush, he probably needs to learn to attack the basket and get to the free throw line more, but he’ll get there. His mid range game is a huge bright spot as most preps (furiously) lack in that department. He has soft hands and a soft touch in the lane, and his jump shoot is silky smooth. He’s easily got college range and has the look of a player that can translate to an NBA two guard when he gains some more strength.

Perhaps his best attribute is his coachability, basketball IQ, and court presence. He is a 4.0 student and sounds nothing like a high school junior. He’s going to be a fantastic ambassador for KU off the court and will be a leader on the court.

Final link: A story about Greene turning into head KU recruiter now that he’s committed.

 

So there you have it. Part 1 in the books. Watch for Parts 2, 3, and 4 coming soon.

 

A look at the 2012-13 Kansas coaching staff

Posted on: April 16th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments
Coach Self Laughing at Dooley commentary

Coach Self laughs at Dooley's commentary

Now that everyone has had some time to digest the season and the great 2012 postseason run, many are already looking forward to 2013. Around these parts, KU basketball doesn’t exactly have an off-season. The late signing period started last week, and although Self has been known to pull some Spring magic on the recruiting front in past years, I wouldn’t expect too many surprises this time around.

The real questions rest on the Class of 2013. And who will be recruiting that class.

As we all know by now, Self brought Norm Roberts in to fill the Assistant Coaching vacancy created by Danny Manning’s move to Tulsa. A former assistant under Self, Roberts has proven himself as a valuable man to have in your program, both on the bench and in a recruit’s home.

That said, I personally hoped that Self would go a different direction and bring in a young, up-and-coming recruiting type. Someone who didn’t necessarily dominate the Xs and Os, but could navigate through the AAU circuits with ease. Someone who has some existing relationships and pipelines and a track record with promise to lure top 5 classes back to Lawrence.

Don’t get me wrong, I know Roberts was a part of many extremely impressive recruiting classes. And he would have been my second or third choice if we missed on the first.

But Self called on his friend. And his friend is quite good. But I still argue Jerrance Howard might have been better.

I should say that I have no insider information on the matter, but I get the sense from reading message boards and talking to friends and folks on twitter that many wanted Howard and Roberts to come to KU to fill the vacancies left by Manning and former Director of Basketball Operations, Barry Hinson.

I wanted to explore this a little further and share my own thoughts on it.

As most of you know, the Director position is a “non-recruiting” coaching job, which means that the person cannot recruit away from campus. This would not make any sense for either Howard or Roberts. Both men have too much to offer on the recruiting trail.

Which leaves only one of two options. Either current assistant coach Kurtis Townsend or Joe Dooley (1) find a new job or (2) take over the Director position, creating an assistant vacancy.

Interestingly, I have seen a rather large contingent of Kansas fans lobbying for Townsend to take the Director role, opening up a spot on the bench. Frankly, this just isn’t going to happen.

Jerrance Howard (Carlos Osorio, AP)

Townsend will probably be a lifelong assistant. And that’s not meant to be a knock on him. He is the kind of guy you want on your bench. I liken him to the guy in your group of friends that you definitely want to keep around because he’ll probably find a way to talk you out of trouble if you ever get pulled over by the cops or if you find yourself facing down a group of big dudes about to beat you up. He is smooth. He’s slick. He’s a guy you want out on the trail building relationships so you can get guys like Shabazz Muhammad to give you token visits. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

On the other hand, Dooley will definitely be a head coach again. It may not be this year. It may not be next. But he is too sharp of a basketball mind and too good of a recruiter not to get another shot. For whatever reason, he hasn’t got it yet, but it will happen eventually.*

*Perhaps I’ll share my thoughts on why he hasn’t got a job to this point in another blog on another day.

Howard is in a great position right now. He has no less than four or five schools interested in his services. Depaul, Kansas State, Memphis, Louisville, Kentucky, and Kansas have all been mentioned. By the time a spot opens on our bench, he will probably be making a nice paycheck for another program. But that doesn’t mean Self couldn’t try to get his former player on his staff at that point.

I want Coach Dooley to stick around as long as he has a better job here than the one offered to him. But when that day comes, and Self has an empty chair next to him on the bench, I hope Howard is his first call.

So as for the Director position, I still think it will be filled by a former player or a recently fired coach (similar to how Hinson originally took the position). There has been some local movement for either Simien or Pollard. I don’t really see either one getting the position, but I suppose it is possible. I personally like the idea of calling on Michael Lee.

As for a timetable on filling the position, I don’t expect it to be extremely quick. Since the Director job doesn’t require off-campus recruiting, there isn’t as much of a hurry to get it filled like the other assistant job. And I think it is wise to wait a while, just to make sure the last domino doesn’t fall that gives Dooley a head coaching opportunity this year instead of next.

Regardless of who is on the staff next year, I just hope it works as well as the one in the place the previous six years. It’s been a pretty good ride with those guys at the helm.

Rock Chalk!

Shabazz Muhammad and KU

Posted on: February 15th, 2012 by jayhawktalk 2 Comments

Courtesy of MaxPreps

By now, you’ve heard the name a hundred times. Regardless of rankings, reclassifications, or anything else, he’s the best player in the Class of 2012. A 6’6 small forward with the ability to shoot, penetrate, pass, dribble, and create. To steal a baseball analogy, he is a 5-tool offensive player.

And he’s visiting the University of Kansas during the biggest regular season game in years.

Muhammad as made it official that he’ll be in the house for the Kansas – Missouri game on February 25. Quite a game to attend. It will be a rematch of epic proportions. If there was ever a game where the roof would actually blow off the building, it will be that one.

Sure, ‘Bazz will be visiting another good “rematch” game when he visits Duke for the North Carolina game. And while that is one of the best rivalry games in all of sports, it will be played next year. And for years to come.

This game won’t.

Muhammad is a game changing type of player. He’s a coach changing type of player. Even a program changing one. But if you’ve followed me long enough, you’d know that I personally don’t think he’ll be in Lawrence next year.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the fact that he wants to come check this place out.

And no, I’m not for moral victories when it comes to recruiting. Self and Co. have had their fair share of those.  But there is something to say for getting the best players to visit Kansas.

Branding, perception, competition, twitter…all that crap matters. I want the best players to visit campus every single year, regardless of how much we think they’ll come here.

Odds are we can get one or two of those blue chip kind of players every class, a few guys that fly under the radar, and a few guys to fill out the roster. We’ve done a hell of a job with that plan over Self’s tenure.

And who knows, maybe Shabazz falls in love with Kansas. Maybe the crowd goes as nuts for him as they do the game. Maybe he is blown away with Coaches Self and Townsend’s message. Maybe our current and future players rub elbows with him and make him feel like this is the place to be.

There’s a whole lot to love here.

But even if he doesn’t, I’m glad he’s checking us out.

 

Self to add to the 2012 class?

Posted on: January 11th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Bill Self may be adding to the (already large) '12 recruiting class

Bill Self recently said that he believes his 2012 recruiting class is “good” but that he and his staff are still looking to add one or two more players to make it “great.”  I think most people immediately assumed he was referring to his pursuit of the #1 2012 blue chip, Las Vegas’ Shabazz Muhammad. But with Shabazz being somewhat of a long-shot to end up in Lawrence next year, I thought it would be worth exploring who else Self could be courting into the Spring.

First, it is worth stating that all of KU’s scholarships are completely spoken for. Certainly Thomas Robinson is nearly a lock to head to the NBA next year and Elijah could have a look if he goes on a run into postseason play. There are also a few candidates to transfer as well. Merv comes to mind.

Of course if Self is faced with a can’t-miss player wanting to come play for him, he’ll find a scholarship. (Sidenote: I’ve always enjoyed those people that get riled up about the number of schollies available. If good players are out there, we always have a scholarship available. One way or another.)

There might also be an issue with all of the 2012 players qualifying to play. I don’t have any insider information on it, but I do know that we’ve obviously had our issues in the past when it comes to qualifying.

Of course he may also be referring to the guys that haven’t officially signed on the dotted line yet — Anrio Adams and Andrew White.

Just for fun, let’s take a look at who is out there that could still possibly end up in Lawrence next year. I’ll rank them by how likely I believe they will be here.

(1) Geron Johnson, 6’3 Guard

Geron Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overview: I recently reviewed Johnson here a few weeks ago when it sounded like Kansas might be more interested in adding him. He is a 6’3 combo guard with a versatile offensive game and good size. He has had somewhat of a checkered past, however, as he battled off-court issues until his time at Garden City Community College. Assuming he keeps his focus on school and basketball this year, he’ll likely be playing Div. I basketball somewhere next year. He’s currently averaging 18+ points for GC, though the basketball part has never been his problem. He was a top 100 Rivals player out of high school.

My take: I get the sense that he would like to come to Kansas, but I don’t get the sense that he has necessarily been guaranteed a scholarship yet. While I would like to see Self add another guard to this class as insurance for Anrio Adams as well as any potential transfer, I don’t think Johnson will be first on his list. However, I do believe based on proximity and need, Johnson could be in Lawrence next year. It depends on how long he is willing to wait to see if a scholarship will be there.

(2) JaKarr Sampson, 6’8 Small Forward

JaKarr Sampson

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overview: Sampson originally signed with St. John’s last year, but was ruled ineligible, so he returned to Brewster Academy and has since put in the work to get back into his college recruitment. He is very long and athletic, with rangy arms and impressive defensive acumen. On the offensive side of the ball, he still needs to work on his jump shot, but he has no problem finishing at the rim. He’ll need to continue working, but based on his potential alone, he was the 51st ranked player by Rivals in the 2011 class.

My take: I think Sampson does legitimately like Kansas. We recruited him the first time around, and both Self and Dooley have maintained contact with him and his coach. He has not taken any visits yet this year, but does seemingly plan to do so in the spring. While I do believe he could fit into KU’s system nicely, he might be scared off by the number of guys Kansas has that can play small forward next year. That being said, he was a part of a 9-man recruiting class to St. John’s so perhaps he isn’t afraid of some competition. Speaking of competition, in addition to KU, Sampson has heard from Pittsburgh, Providence, Florida, Baylor, Connecticut, and Louisville. Might be a tough one to get.

(3) Luke Cothron, 6’9 Power Forward

Luke Cothron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overview: Similar to the above two prospects, Cothron has had a bumpy road to Division I basketball. He was a top prospect in his 2010 class, Rivals ranking him 45th overall and 11th at the PF position. He committed to Auburn over Connecticut, Kentucky, and Tennessee. However, he didn’t qualify and eventually landed at UMass. He became homesick and journeyed to the University of New Orleans. He eventually left there too and ended up at the College of Southern Idaho, where he’s stayed until now. Cothron has a variety of low post moves and has a good motor for rebounding the ball as well. He has a great frame and can still add muscle to his already strong upper body.

My take: Cothron told me via twitter that he had plans to visit Kansas, but that has not happened yet. The skills are definitely there, but it’s hard to say whether Self has earnestly offered him yet. Per @scoutsfocus on twitter, Cothron has said that he has offers from Kansas, Baylor, UNLV, and Memphis, but I’m not sure it has been confirmed. If Cothron ends up on campus for a visit, I’ll give this one a much higher shot, but until then, I do not think Cothron will end up in Lawrence.

(4) Tony Parker, 6’9 Center

Tony Parker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overview: Parker is one of the last remaining Class 2012 blue chip prospects that has yet to commit. He is a huge kid at 6’9, 250 pounds, and uses all of his strength and mass well in the low block. For a big (round) guy, he has great post moves and really good hands. He uses all of his size to control the paint when he has the ball, but does not have the same presence on defense as he tends to play below the rim. He has had some troubles with staying in shape, but if he were to end up in a good strength and conditioning program, he could be a huge force down low.

My take: Because Self was confident that he was going to land his number one Center prospect in Kaleb Tarczewski, he did not put in much work into back-up plans at that position. Once Tarczewski committed to Arizona, Self hit the recruiting trail hard on both Parker and Landen Lucas. Parker has stated recently that Kansas has come on strong, but schools like Duke, UCLA, Ohio State, Memphis, Georgetown and Georgia have been there from the beginning. Not to mention Kansas will go from no depth in the post this year to having Withey, Traylor, Lucas, Peters, and Ellis all down low next year. I highly doubt Parker visits Kansas and would not recommend getting too tied up in his recruitment until a visit is imminent.

(5) Shabazz Muhammad, 6’6 Small Forward

Shabazz Muhammad

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overview: Shabazz is the #1 player in the 2012 class and is much deserving of such an honor. In short, he is a brilliant basketball player, with an exceptional mid-range game and an ability to get to the rim and finish hard. He’ll have no problem scoring on the collegiate level and will likely be drafted very early in the 2013 draft.

My take: I am keeping this one short because I think Kansas is a long shot in this recruitment. While he has said that he plans to visit Kansas, I am skeptical. Those much closer to his recruitment have said that he’ll eventually end up at Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, or UNLV. He is an extremely talented player, but at times it seems like he also has an extremely talented publicist. It seems like his team’s motive is to keep his name in the papers at all the blue blood schools to keep the hype alive. Not to say I don’t think he’s worth hyping. He is. But I don’t think he’ll end up in Lawrence.

(6) Savon Goodman, 6’6 Combo Guard/SF

Savon Goodman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overview: Goodman committed to his hometown Villanova in late 2010 but then decommitted in 2011 and opened up his recruitment again. He is Rivals’ 53rd ranked player in the class of 2012. At one point, there was speculation that Goodman would have to reclassify to the 2013 class due to some academic concerns. However, he has indicated that he still plans to sign in 2012. He is an excellent scorer and can aggressively drive the lane and get to the basket. He does need to work on his jump shot and 3-point shooting.

My take: Kansas recruited Goodman the first time around, but there has been very little smoke with his name and Kansas the second time around. While quite a few schools have expressed interest in Goodman, I think there is some concern that he may not qualify. I put him in here because at one time Kansas did have interest, and that interest could be rekindled if there is some indication that he will, in fact, qualify for the 2012 class.

(7) Wanaah Bail, 6’8 Small Forward

Wannah Bail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overview: Bail is originally from the Bahamas and has landed in Texas. He has transferred high schools multiple times and has had some difficulty staying eligible. When on the court, he has excelled as a versatile small forward with enormous athleticism. His speed at 6’8 is a huge plus and he excels on the baseline with a good first step.

My take: Bail claims he still has a number of offers from high major programs such as Houston, Indiana, Arkansas, Louisville, Marquette, Texas, Baylor, San Francisco, Arizona State and South Florida. He says he’s also got interest from Kansas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Arizona, Miami (Fl.), USC, Nebraska and Boston College. Similar to Goodman above, the name Kansas has been mentioned with Bail so I wanted to provide some information. That said, I do not see him ending up here.

(8) Nino Jackson, 6’2 Point Guard

Nino Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overview: From a talent perspective, Jackson may be the best on this entire post outside of Shabazz. Unfortunately, Jackson has not been able to display his talent much this year due to academic and and other off-court issues. There are rumors that the Ardmore, OK guard got caught up in some things that he shouldn’t have outside of school. He’s somewhat of an internet legend around these parts as Kansas fans enjoyed his hints that Self and Co. led for his services at one point. Then, in the matter of about a year, he went from one tattoo to a hundred (check out his twitter profile @SoufSide_FlyGuy for a look), skipped a lot of school, and has had coaches seemingly keep him at arm’s length while still keeping one eye on the situation. When he’s on the court, he is a fantastic scorer, with good 3-point range and ball handling skills. While he’s listed at point guard, he’s probably more of a combo guard.

My take: It does sound like Nino may be back in school now. I heard somewhere that he enrolled in a program to help him get caught up with his classmates on academics. Hopefully he will find whatever he needs to find to get him back on track because it would be shame to let all of that talent go to waste. With the spring period rapidly approaching, I would be shocked if Nino ends up being recruited in the 2012 class to a Division I program. More likely, he’ll either end up reclassifying or going to a junior college to prove to coaches that he has his priorities back in line. I’d love for him to be at KU, but only if Self does too. I’m not sure we’re there yet.

Conclusion: 
I would be surprised if Self does actually add to an already good 2012 class. I don’t see him adding guys for the sake of adding them unless he knows that there will be eligibility issues or transfers. After this year, there is certainly something to be said for adding depth though. I would bet that unless one of the foregoing guys really impresses Self, he won’t be adding beyond the two guys that have yet to sign – Anrio and White. I guess we’ll see.

 

Dieter chooses SMU over Jayhawks

Posted on: January 3rd, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Courtesy of South Bend Tribune

Update: 6:35 PM

Dieter chose SMU over KU. As I mentioned in my post this morning, I thought KU was fighting an uphill battle here, only because SMU has been courting Dieter for a very long time. KU got in the mix only in the last few weeks.

As always, best of luck to Gehrig. On to the next one.

 

Update: 2:35 PM

Dieter will not play in the Semper Fi Bowl due to a knee injury. He will announce his college choice at halftime of the game.

Stay tuned…

 

11:30 AM

KU wide receiver target, Gehrig Dieter, will decide between KU and SMU today at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ. The game will be televised on CBS College Sports Network at 5:00 PM central time, though it is unclear at which point during the game he will decide.

Should he choose KU today, Charlie Weis will be getting an immediate impact-type player that should be able to compete for a starting position right away. Dieter is a big target at 6’3, 200 pounds, and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time for his quarterback.

He broke the Indiana state record on August 20, racking up an astounding 373 receiving yards in one game. On Sept 2, Dieter broke the national record with 447 receiving yards in one game.

Some speculation is that SMU has a leg up on KU only because Weis and KU got into the Dieter recruitment very late. However, Dieter has made mention several times on his twitter account that he has spoken with KU QB transfer, Dayne Crist about coming to KU. He has also said that he has a great relationship with Weis since Dieter’s high school is in South Bend.

My take? I don’t really have a gut feeling either way on which school Dieter will choose. I get the sense that he’d like to play with Crist, but I also know he has a longstanding connection with June Jones and his staff at SMU. Gun to my head, I think he chooses SMU, but Crist might be the wild card.

Stay tuned…

Self looking to add JuCo combo guard?

Posted on: December 29th, 2011 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Geron Johnson brings the ball up the court for the Broncbusters

By now, most of you have heard of ’12 blockbuster guard, Shabazz Muhammad. You may also know that he’s down to six schools, one of which is KU.

While Shabazz is still probably a long shot to be a Jayhawk, that does not mean Self is done recruiting guards to the 2012 class. And he doesn’t have to look too far to find a potential target.

Garden City Community College sophomore guard Geron Johnson is finally looking to become a Div. I basketball player. He recently visited Kansas for the Ohio State game and is also looking at Memphis and Oklahoma State, among others.

Rated the #100 prospect in his 2010 class out of high school, Johnson had looks from multiple high major programs. Unfortunately, off the court issues derailed his plans. When he was 16, he was arrested for attempted burglary and placed on home monitoring. He went the junior college route, eventually landing at Chipola (Fla.).

KU fans might recognize the name as Mario Little’s former school.

While he averaged double digit points for Chipola, he once again ran into off court issues, this time leading to an arrest and jail time for misdemeanor marijuana charges. Johnson eventually transferred to Garden City and has committed himself to getting to Div. I basketball.

As Johnson recently told The Shiver: “My past mistakes have helped shape me to have better character and to understand how quickly you can fall into bad decisions,” said Johnson. “They helped me because I have more knowledge now. I have to be more careful with the decisions that I make daily. If you make the right decisions consistently it becomes a habit where you are doing the right thing,” he added.

If Johnson is able to keep making the right decisions, he could see wind up in Lawrence next season. Self would be getting a proficient scorer and above average defender.  He’s also averaged close to 6 assists per game for the Broncbusters while hitting on 40% of his three-point attempts.

Johnson has indicated he will make a decision soon.

 

 

To follow or not to follow – a look at social media and recruiting

Posted on: December 15th, 2011 by jayhawktalk No Comments

The NCAA has always grappled with technology and how it affects recruitment.  As the world becomes smaller with every technological advance, antiquated NCAA bylaws become a joke to try to enforce as written.

I should explain up front that I personally follow a number of Kansas basketball and football recruits on my twitter account, @JayhawkTalk. I even interact with them from time to time. The substance of this interaction can be anything from a “retweet” of what they say (E.g., if a potential recruit tweets something like “I am going to have my in-home visit with Kansas Coach Bill Self this Monday. Can’t wait,” it would get retweeted by a ton of KU fans) to a simple suggestion or nudge that KU is a great place to be.

There has been quite a bit of discussion of late as to what kind of interaction I am allowed to have with recruits, if any. Is “following” them violative of NCAA bylaws? What about mentioning and interacting with them? What if they reach out to you first asking for feedback?

I wanted to spend some time researching these issues so that I could become more knowledgeable about what is allowed, not allowed, and everything in between. I wanted to share this with you because I don’t think many understand it very well. I certainly did not.

I should also add that while I am an attorney, I am not writing this to provide any sort of legal advice. This is my own opinion and analysis of what I have found, both in the actual bylaws and how those bylaws are enforced. In other words, should you get a cease and desist letter from a compliance official, take it seriously.  Don’t rely solely on this review as the word.

With that out of the way, leggo.

 

Coach Self Laughing at Dooley commentary

Coach Self laughs at Dooley's commentary

Texting while recruiting

When text messaging became popular around 2005, parents of recruits began to complain to NCAA officials that their mobile phone bills were rising with every text a coach sent. The NCAA made a blanket response by banning texts to recruits completely in 2007.

When asked to comment about the texting ban (which had just gone into force), Anna Chappel, then head of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee said, “If you don’t stop it now, what roads are you going to have to cross later on?”

She could not have expected at that time that the rise of social media networks would force regulators back to the drawing board only a few short years later.

 

What to do with Facebook, Twitter

Like texting, it took the NCAA a while to figure out what to do with Twitter and Facebook. When the NCAA became convinced that Facebook private messaging and Twitter direct messages were, for all intents and purposes, just like emails, they decided not to regulate them any different than email (email, like regular mail, is unlimited after a recruit’s junior year, subject to certain restrictions).

To the NCAA, it was much easier to try to mold the ever-changing social media world to its existing rulebooks. Square peg, round hole comes to mind.

After likening direct messages to emails, the NCAA deemed that posting on the Facebook Wall of a recruit or sending a Twitter reply or mention was just like publicizing a player’s recruitment in the media, which isn’t allowed. Regulators again chose to mold new Internet networking into rules already on the books.

Cole talking to recruits

Cole Aldrich stops by to talk to recruits

But this strategy would only get the NCAA so far.

Not surprisingly, technology continued to advance. It became apparent that recruits were receiving Facebook and Twitter messages from coaches directly to their phones and mobile devices.  Regulators were once again faced with a technological dilemma. Is receiving a Facebook message too much like a text message? Or is it more like an email? Or, worse yet, is it some new blend that would force the NCAA to create new legislation?

Not surprisingly, the NCAA still remained steadfast in adapting technology to its own rules.

It issued bulletins stating that once a coach discovers that a recruit is receiving messages to his or her phone, that coach must cease contact through that medium. Certainly not the easiest rule to police.

As coaches became further disenchanted with texting, phone, and social media rules as written, the NCAA did what the NCAA does best: it threw the issue to a committee. Luckily for coaches, it does finally seem that the NCAA is willing to deregulate some forms of electronic communication, including text messaging. For more info, check this out from the NCAA.

But what does this all mean for fans?

Nearly all decrees and rule changes made by the NCAA regarding electronic communication revolve around the recruitment relationship between coach and player. Very little has been said about what kind of interactions fans and recruits can have through social media. That is probably because to the NCAA, this issue is much more black and white.

Fans and boosters should have no interaction with recruits at all.

Not that it’s stopped anyone. Take Taylor Moseley, for instance. In 2009, Moseley, a North Carolina State freshman, created a Facebook group called “John Wall PLEASE come to NC STATE!!!!”  After more than 700 people joined the group, Moseley received a cease and desist letter from the N.C. State compliance department. It became a national story as First Amendment rights activists went to bat for Moseley by speaking out in the media on his behalf.

Moseley eventually changed the name of the group.

It’s important to note that multiple other people created Facebook groups encouraging John Wall to come to their respective school, including students at Baylor, Duke, and at least four groups for Kentucky.  There is no indication that the compliance departments at Baylor, Duke, and Kentucky made any such effort to reach out to those students.

 

Self argues with a ref

Coach Self argues with a ref

What are the schools saying?

We learned two important things from the Moseley fiasco:

First, the NCAA did not ask Moseley to take down the Facebook group or change the name – North Carolina State did. There are very few, if any, reports of the NCAA actually policing individual people from interacting with recruits via social media. That job is tasked to the individual universities, which generally consists of a handful of overworked compliance officers.

Second, compliance departments are not uniform in the way they police interaction among fans and recruits. N.C. State was obviously more proactive in its supervision of students and boosters online. But for every N.C. State department, there are 100 Kentucky departments, which, for one reason or another, do not (or choose not) to police such activity.

Most university compliance departments have a blanket policy on social media on the department website. For instance, North Carolina states the following in one of its bulletins to boosters:

“The use of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace can very easily be used by individuals in an attempt to influence prospective student-athletes to attend a specific institution. The NCAA prohibits any involvement by boosters in the recruitment of prospects, and individuals who might initiate these attempts to contact prospects could jeopardize the institution’s ability to continue the recruitment of such prospects.”

Other departments are trying to get more interactive by starting their own Twitter and Facebook accounts. You might see @JayhawkComply on twitter, which recently authored this tweet: “All faculty, staff, students and boosters of KU cannot promote KU in any way or encourage a prospect to attend KU, Leave this to coaches.”

If you continue to look around at other departments, you’ll see more and more of these vague, blanket, overarching statements loosely referencing the NCAA and it Bylaws. All will have the same basic message: Don’t do it.

 

Now for the real world

The reality is that university compliance departments have a lot on their hands. They’re understaffed, they’re overworked, and they simply do not have the resources to track everything on the Internet. They must track athletes already at the university as well as prospective ones. It’s an incredibly difficult task.

Consider this scenario: I create an account called “MUTigerBooster” and start tweeting to potential Missouri recruits to come to Missouri to achieve all the riches in their wildest dreams. All MU could do is tell me to stop. There is no subpoena power. There is no name associated with the account. And it is incredibly unlikely that Twitter would disclose IP addresses or contact information. It is a nightmare for compliance folks.

But what can they do?

**Sidenote: Some university departments are turning to computer programs and outside firms to help police online content from their athletes. One such company is UDiligence, which uses custom keyword lists to catch problems before they occur. For a good time, check out the UDiligence website page where they show images that they have caught. Pretty funny stuff.

I contend that over 99% of the online interaction between fans and recruits will not receive any response from the university the fan represents. Don’t confuse this as tacit approval of the action from the university. It’s not. But policing online content on social media websites would take 100 employees, not 5. That being said, most of the time if a violation is reported to compliance officials, they will look into it and issue a request to stop the behavior if it is found to be violative.

**Another sidenote: I’m sure by writing this piece I will be getting a message the next time I reply to a tweet from Chris Walker or Dayne Crist.

 

My take

The most interesting part of this whole thing? The recruits want you to tweet them. They want as many followers as they can possibly get, and the attention from a particular school’s fan base does have an effect on what school that guy chooses. To say otherwise is ignorant.

Obviously that also means that coaches secretly want fans tweeting to prospects too. It hammers home the recruiting pitch that if you come to Kansas, you’ll be beloved by all of KU nation – and you can see that’s already happening on your twitter feed. Coaches may come out and say that they don’t need the extra help, but I would argue that they are not being truthful. It doesn’t hurt to have some extra help, especially when every other school is doing it too.

I think there is a competitive advantage in the recruiting game to have a fan base on social networks that follow and interact with recruits. Even though the NCAA and the university compliance department tells me not to, I will continue to follow, retweet, and interact with recruits.  And I actually encourage you all to do the same.

Obviously you have to be smart and tactful about it. When tweeting, do so in a classy and respectful manner. And if a player doesn’t choose KU, wish him well and call it a day.

But until I see equal policing across the board from other Division I compliance departments that KU competes with, I will maintain my position on this.

Happy tweeting.