I wrote about this the other day, but it has apparently bubbled up from beyond the grave. Syrcuse coach Jim Boeheim was apparently miffed at Adrian Wojnarowski’s piece the other day charging that the only person benefiting from Team USA was Mike Krzyzewski. But more importantly from the perspective of Kentucky fans, in this Syracuse.com article, Jim Boeheim accuses John Calipari being "disingenuous":
Boeheim said Kentucky coach John Calipari has complained to both him and USA Basketball about the extra access.
Boeheim noted that Calipari coached the Dominican team and happened to land Karl Towns, a top 2015 prospect who played on that team. Boeheim said Calipari has agreed to coach the United States Pan-American team next year.
"It’s a concern he has raised before," Boeheim said. "That particular case he has mentioned. He’s said he thinks its an advantage. He got the No. 1 recruit in the country. It’s a little bit disingenuous of him. I like John. We get along fine. He feels Mike is getting an advantage. You could make that argument. But Duke isn’t getting any better players than they ever have."
That’s a pretty bold statement from Boeheim, and if Calipari has in fact raised that issue (which wouldn’t surprise me, by the way — Calipari is nothing if not paranoid of any other coach’s "advantages"), it does look disingenuous. While I can argue it wasn’t necessarily his objective to get Karl-Anthony Towns Jr. when he coached the Dominican Republic team, it is certainly the kind of coincidence that would generate a lot of eye-rolling. To be fair, though, I suspect Orlando Antigua had a lot more to do with it than Towns, but obviously, Boeheim’s complaint wouldn’t work in that case. No matter what, those who consider Calipari a huckster are going to swallow Boeheim’s accusation hook, line, and sinker, and probably jump right into the boat, mouth agape.
Also, I’m not quite sure who got the #1 recruit in the country — it looks like he’s talking about Coach Cal, but the fact of the matter is that Coach K got the top recruit in the country last year, Jahlil Okafor, who played for USA basketball. Seems that Boeheim doesn’t quite have his facts straight, so that makes me suspicious of his argument. Yes, Calipari landed Towns, the #5 player, and I’d be hard pressed to argue (and in fact, I’d argue the reverse) that his stint as Dominican Republic head coach didn’t help. But as I say, if you think about it, it’s likely that Orlando Antigua had more to do with Calipari’s participation than Towns.
Boeheim also took further issue with the Wojnarowski article, and was really ticked off about Woj’s accusation that Mike Krzyzewski used Paul George’s injury in an unethically self-promoting way:
"The thing that Wojnarowski wrote was completely off-base," Boeheim said. "The thing I hate about writers is they want to state their case and they use false information. He put in that Mike went to the hospital for publicity. Paul George’s parents took the picture. They put it out there. We had no cameraman. It was his parents. That was unbelievably low."
I think I agree with that. I had no issue with Krzyzewski comforting George, although it would be extremely gauche if that were used as a promotional opportunity. If his parents indeed took the picture, then I don’t think anyone has a right to complain about any benefit inuring to Coach K.
Look, I’m not about defending Krzyzewski, he’s a rival and he, Boeheim and Billy Donovan all enjoy a recruiting advantage by working with Team USA. Even Boeheim admits that, even though he tries to minimize it:
"It doesn’t hurt," Boeheim said. "I think it’s a slight help. It might help Duke a little. I’m on the committee. I’ve talked with 25 top players. We haven’t gotten one of the top players. I’ve talked with them for six years. Billy Donovan won two goal medals. He coached high school kids. He didn’t get any of those kids. It could happen. You could get in there. But that’s not the reason kids are going to come to your school. I don’t think there’s a kid here who would say, ‘I’m here because he’s an assistant OIympic coach. They might say,’I’m here because has won 900 games at Syracuse’ or ‘they’ve been to the Final Four’ or ‘we’ve had four point guards drafted in the first round.’ "
I don’t know, and neither do you, dear reader, how much of a recruiting advantage is created by Krzyzewski’s, Boeheim’s, or Donovan’s position as coaches of Team USA. You would think Donovan’s position would put him at a significantly greater advantage, though, because he coaches most of the high-school kids for the under-19 squad, but the reality is that most if not all those kids are committed to colleges before they play on that team, and Donovan’s recruiting doesn’t show any evidence of late-deciders breaking his way from Team USA experience.
However, Donovan, Krzyzewski and Boeheim do have access to the U18, U17 and U16 teams, which could give them more and greater access to recruits early in the process. That would seem to be an advantage, although how big a one is hard to quantify.