Rob Dauster reports today that Rick Pitino is trying to become the Nick Saban of college basketball, at least when it comes to oversigning:
As hard as this may be to believe, the impossibility of properly pronouncing the names of everyone on the Louisville roster is not the most interesting part of this commitment. You see, as of right now, Louisville has 15 player scheduled to receive a scholarship in 2013-2014. Two seniors are scheduled to graduate — Stephen Van Treese and Peyton Siva — and four players are currently committed to the school — prep point guard Terry Rozier, JuCo point guard Chris Jones, and big men Anton Gill and Agau.
That’s a problem, because college basketball teams are only allowed to have 13 players on scholarship.
Pitno has consistently done this lately, and he isn't the only one. Tubby Smith, when he was at Kentucky, also did this from time to time, although not nearly to the level Pitino has taken it to in recent years.
This, quite frankly, is the definition of oversigning. And it’s not the first time that Pitino has done this. In 2010-2011 he asked Chris Smith, Kyle Kuric and Elisha Justice to give up their scholarships and become walk-ons to get to the necessary number of scholarship players. Since then, Pitino has "asked" a number of players — Jared Swopshire, Van Treese (he was eventually allowed to return when Raheem Buckles left), George Goode — to transfer to make room for better, healthier recruits.
Yes, it is, and it leaves kids with few options, none of them particularly good. They can pay their own way, or transfer and sit out a year, and Pitino has no compunction whatever about making that happen.
To me, this is the exact inverse of John Calipari. Calipari cares very much about the kind of player he recruits, and he expects everyone that comes to Kentucky to play. Calipari would rather give scholarships to walk-ons than over-recruit players that he knows may not make the cut. He has demonstrated over and over again that his first priority is the player, not the program. UK fans may quibble about misplaced priorities, but so far, it has worked out to the advantage of both.
Dauster goes on to claim he doesn't have a huge problem with this, and frankly, I'm not sure if I do either. The recruits know the situation they are going into, and if Pitino can sell them a pig in a poke, well, they have only themselves to blame.
But part of me agrees with the part about football oversigning being such an issue. If it's an issue in football, why not in basketball? Conversely, if it's not an issue in basketball, why should it be one in football?
John Infante, quoted by Dauster in the article, offers a couple of reasons why oversigning in basketball generates no significant hue and cry. They essentially boil down to this:
- Oversigning is masked by a high number of transfers in basketball, and;
- There are fewer horror stories in basketball.
Both good points. So my question to the BBN today is, should anyone care? And there's a poll!