The Testudo Times, SBN's outstanding Maryland blog, has this excellent article debating the controversy surrounding AAU basketball. As we all know, the money teams, the AAU teams with the giant contracts and contacts with apparel companies get most of the top-tier talent. Sonny Vaccaro runs around playing Godfather. There is badness, generally.
There are many who think the AAU system is out of control, and I think it is also. I think John Calipari's idea of banning summer recruiting is a good idea, and may help some. No, the money won't go away. No, the influence that the AAU has (Renardo Sidney, anyone?) won't go away. I recall reading an article a few years back about Sydney, and how he was far less concerned about his play in high school (or even playing in high school at all) than his time on the AAU circuit. That, in some ways, seems emblematic of the problems with AAU ball.
But it isn't all bad. AAU basketball has a some things to recommend it, even if many high school coaches feel it makes players less coachable. But the flip side sure makes the total package look ugly.
For years, AAU coaches have brokered deals for themselves while steering players to universities at the behest of their paymasters. This is well known, well documented and largely legal. An even larger problem is that the parents of many of these children know perfectly well this is going on, and are just fine with it -- particularly those parents who are are financially challenged. It's easy for Sonny Vaccaro and his ilk to sell the idea that colleges and the NCAA are stealing money that rightly belongs to the players, ignoring the potential value of an education. And that's real, real easy to ignore when you compare maybe $150K or so for a 4-year scholarship versus the millions available in the NBA and even in the foreign professional leagues.
So would Calipari's idea solve the problem? Not at all. It would tend to benefit coaches by allowing them some time at home with their families (although some would argue that for the money they are being paid, coaches don't deserve a break), and it might reduce the number of silly minor recruiting violations that are currently on the fringe of legality but clearly on the wrong side of ethics, i.e. "bumps" and so forth. But the NCAA is largely hamstrung in many of these situations. The more rules it writes that can be construed to affect interstate commerce, the more anti-trust lawsuits it opens itself up to.
This all relates pretty well back to this Kansas Jayhawk blogger's post yesterday. Recruiting has changed, and those who refuse to change with it are being left behind. Gary Williams is a classic example, if you read all the links in the Testudo Times piece above, but he is by no means the only one.
What will this mean for Kentucky? Well, right now Calipari is on top of the recruiting heap with the power of arguably the top basketball program in the country behind him. Cheating under those conditions will never enter his mind, if it ever has. But that just ratchets up the pressure on everyone else, for good or ill.
And now, the news.
[UPDATE 1] More from around the Internet.
UK Basketball News
- Are we giddy about John Wall? Really? Giddy? Well, maybe just a little ...
- It's officially official. John Wall will have a press conference at 2 PM today.
- Heh. So Gillispie will get most of his money, and UK will get his house.
- The greatest of all time? NESN says they will wait and see.
- John Wall timeline.
- Calipari is Twitteriffic! Tweet, tweet!
- Billy Gillispie, opposing coaches in the SEC are gonna miss you. The balance of power hasn't really shifted, it's just been returned to normal.
- KU vs. UK? Could be ...
- The DBR smears Calipari with innuendo, Kentucky with ancient history and rationalizes the loss of John Wall. Surprised? Not moi. Their take is fantasy. This is reality.
- This blogger thinks Bledsoe made the wrong decision. I don't think he's getting the big picture. Bledsoe has a chance to play against John Wall in practice and with him in games. Is there any doubt that next year, he will not only be the man, but a much improved player? Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News says that Bledsoe's high school coach tried to convince him to consider Wall's possible matriculation.
- NC State blogger's classy response to Wall coming to Kentucky. Puts the other two triangle schools to shame.
- [UPDATE1] Jeff Sheppard has thoughts about the Wall commitment.
- [UPDATE1] Ah, schadenfreude -- more Duke angst. They lose wall to Kentucky and Henderson to the Association in the same day. But unlike some earlier Duke blogs I've linked, this one seems to have a decent touch of class. He is pretty much right on the money on the challenges UK will face, too.
- [UPDATE1] Some Patterson love.
- [UPDATE1] Tyreke Evans thinks Wall made the correct call.
- [UPDATE1] ESPN elevates UK's recruiting class to #1. Doh.
- [UPDATE1] Calipari excited about coaching Wall. Who wouldn't be?
- [UPDATE1] Bluegrass State Hoops has some notes on Wall's presser.
- [UPDATE1] Coach Cal's basketball school 2009.
UK Football News
- Tom Leach's first book chronicles the rise of Rich Brooks. I'm looking forward to it.
- [UPDATE1] ESPN ranks Trevard Lindley as the 8th best player in the SEC.
Other UK Sports News
- UK will compete for the national championship in women's tennis doubles.
NCAA Sports News
- Kyle King argues that teams should play a tough non-conference schedule.
- The USC Trojans win the NCAA men's tennis crown.
- Garnet and Black Attack questions the implementation of a Rooney rule in Oregon.
- [UPDATE1] Can Boynton run the point for Florida?
Other News of Interest
- Could we see this again in the NBA Finals? The Nuggets have a tough row to hoe, unfortunately.