USC has a commitment form a 14 year old boy. Yes, an 8th grader has already decided to play for the Trojans before figuring out what High School he will attend.
In a world where every move in college athletics in this state is being looked at through a microscope, it amazes me what can be ignored as an actual issue. The offering of scholarships to Sophomore, Freshman, and Jr. High basketball players seems to be a silent problem that isn’t going to stop anytime soon. It even isn’t a bigger issue than anything supposedly done by Nick Saban and what Oklahoma did with a car dealership.
Coaches are not allowed to have in-person contact recruits off-campus prior to their senior year of high school. Tim Floyd of USC used this rule to his advantage by talking to one Ryan Boatright in a Radisson hotel during a senior elite basketball camp. Pat Forde has the story on ESPN.com:
There is some question whether the Radisson — which serves as a dorm for some USC students and was the player housing for the elite camp — is considered part of campus. The USC compliance office had no comment on the issue this week. Sports information director Tim Tessalone said the recruitment of Boatright is being reviewed, but there is no evidence of wrongdoing.
While I’m not letting Tim Floyd and USC off the hook, it should be noted that they are not the only ones engaging in trying to sway young talent their way. Floyd is just the first documented case of an actual commitment from a Junior High student. Kentucky’s new Basketball Coach, Billy Gillispie, has oral commitments from two members of the class of 2010. Baylor University has a couple of commitments for 2010 as well.
Now don’t put this practice and special coaching camps in the same category. There are no scholarship offers or anything close to it during a coach’s camp. The only type of camp that can be actually tied to this are the All-American/Junior Elite camps mentioned in Forde’s article.
After reading all of this, I’m left asking myself how could this not be as important as talking to a high school senior 30 days before you’re allowed to per NCAA rules. So far, the NCAA has yet to say anything regarding this kind of recruitment. In fact, Freshman basketball players are not deemed as recruitable prospects by the NCAA. This may be due to the fact that Freshman basketball players were not recruited in years past. But, as the methods change, so must the NCAA. If something is not done about this soon, chalk this one up as another sign of NCAA hypocrisy.
As for Boatright, it seems that his mother is upset with the people who are not happy with this kind of situation:
“I thank God that there’s positive things on the news about my son. It’s not about a murder or something else. Every day you turn on the TV and see an African-American young man being murdered. “Whether they offered him something at 14, 16 or 18, what is wrong with it? What if it was a scholarship for good grades? Wouldn’t that be exciting? My son makes good grades and he is good at sports. Hey, he’s a good kid. He’s been trained to work hard and study hard.”
I’m left speechless.
For now, all we can do is wait and see what actually happens.
Word is that Gottfried is already setting up his Pokemon trading card camp for 5th grades that excel in basketball.