As discussed in the post earlier this morning about Roy Williams, this was the next question on CBS' docket: "Is William Wesley (aka 'World Wide' Wes) a factor in recruiting or is his perceived presence overblown?" Unsurprisingly, 63% of the coaches said he was a factor.
What is more surprising is that there appears to be some disagreement over how much of a factor he is, and that points up one very big elephant that nobody wants to acknowledge: Nobody knows how big a factor he is, or if he really is one at all. But they don't want to take any chances.
That's right, nobody has the first clue about how much influence Wesley has. He has been associated with many young players, many NBA players, and many coaches at every level. But despite this, despite years of suspicion, reporter interest in this international man of mystery, and no doubt what amounts to a ton of investigative work, the best the media can come up with is rank speculation about his level of involvement.
Of course, Wesley was involved with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but unmentioned in this piece is the fact that he lived just across the street from MKG's mom in Camden, New Jersey and was a family friend long before MKG became a known quantity and a coveted recruit. This is the predictable response from some unnamed coach:
"He's factor. I mean, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, man. That's a big fish. Even if he's the only one in a particular year."
Heh. Born of ignorance, and probably jealousy.
The truth is that William Wesley virtually never, ever talks about himself. He's not interested in making friends with the media and is apparently intimately familiar with the NCAA rules and regulations regarding recruiting and involvement with players -- so familiar, in fact, that he feels comfortable making them uncomfortable from time to time.
Wesley appears to be exactly what the little actual information we have suggests he is -- a person who can advise players about where the bodies are buried in college basketball, give them a heads up about potential pitfalls, and advise them about matters of import to their future. He also happens to have a lot of very important people, both in the entertainment industry and the NBA, on speed dial. He is apparently so well-respected in this role that he has an outsized reputation among those upon whom his work impinges.
Many people, probably many coaches among them, believe that Wesley is a runner for Leon Rose, and a conduit for John Calipari's recruiting. They are unwilling to accept that they might just be friends, and to be honest, given Wesley's ability to connect with young players, it's completely understandable that they should take this view. It is also a fact that Calipari is not Wesley's only friend in college coaching, but he is certainly one of the oldest and most high-profile.
Many of the things I have read about William Wesley have been negative, but 99.9% of them have been based purely on speculation and trying to fit the available evidence to a pre-drawn conclusion. Frankly, I think we should all just admit that Wesley is simply too smart and careful to be any more scrutable than the alien artifact in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Apparently, anybody who knows more about him than that is either unwilling to talk, or simply has nothing interesting to say. Despite the many assurances of nefarious goings-on we have read and heard over the years, it does not follow that Wesley is doing something wrong or unethical because the doesn't talk about his business. This is not The Godfather, this is real life.
So I say, more power to him. They guy seems to find ways to make a living, and he's apparently doing very well for himself. Conspiracies that are often attributed to him make little sense primarily because too many people would have to be a party to it, and surely by now he would have angered someone enough to expose the whole kit and kaboodle to the light of day. The idea that he can operate in plain sight while breaking every fundamental NCAA recruiting rule is so patently absurd that, in my opinion, anyone giving it credence is either delusional or a Louisville fan, which some might say are coincident.
Here's my final word to anyone accusing Wesley of breaking NCAA rules: Prove it. Not with, "See, these dots line up perfectly to my conclusion," but by demonstrating factually that he is engaging in wrongdoing. In fact, I have a better idea -- don't prove it to me, prove it to the NCAA.
There are apparently coaches lining up to help you.