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SoCalHoops Recruiting News

We're Back....With News, Stuff, & Assorted
Ramblings To Follow--(May 8, 2002)

As some people have noticed, our Daily Articles section has been a little dry lately.  For those who haven't noticed, well, go back to sleep and don't bother to read this because it will just bore you to tears...For those who care, read on: 

We've basically taken off the last week and a half from writing articles, reporting on signings, tournaments, and news of upcoming events, in order to tend to some personal business, some travel back east, and also to tend to some real business (as in work...yes, "real" work).  But we're back, and we finally found some time today to compose and compile a lot of the news we've been storing for the last week and a half, and we'll be posting some articles and other stuff to help our friends catch up on things pertaining to basketball here in SoCal.  And along those lines, we'll start by catching up on some of the stuff that's news in the world of recruiting, starting with the junior class...

About those pesky Juniors:  There's been a ton of news lately on recent commitments, official visits taken and home visits had among players who will not enter college for more than a year and a half, i.e., in September of 2003, at the earliest.  Why so much news now on the junior class, when the late spring signing period doesn't even end for another 8 days (on May 15)?  Because when the NCAA revamped the men's basketball recruiting calendar, it also added some new wrinkles in the form of Bylaws amendments which have not only changed the face of what the recruiting evaluation events and tournaments look like in the spring and summer, but they've also dramatically accellerated the recruiting process, beginning with some of the current sophs who are starting to make commitments, and certainly speeding things up for the current juniors.  By the time the summer rolls around, most of the top juniors will have already committed to schools.  We'll avoid sharing whether we think this is a good thing or is silly, but when it comes to choosing a college, sometimes sooner is better than later.  Anyway, it used to be,  for as long as memory serves us, that players could not take official visits to colleges until the fall of their senior year, and coaches could not begin visiting players in their homes until the fall of the senior year as well.  But that's no more:  Visits can now be made in the spring of a prospect's junior year, and additionally, coaches can also make in-home visits to juniors during the spring "contact" period.  And this year there have been plenty of visits taken and made involving some top SoCal juniors.  Here are a few, nothing startling.  No names or commitments you probably already don't know about or haven't read elsewhere, but here they are, as many as we know about, all in one place concerning SoCal players:

Mohammed Abukar (6'-9" Jr. F) from Rancho Bernardo HS, took a trip to Georgia this past weekend and has already committed there, according to his club coach, Ollie Goulston (more on that in a separate article);

Omar Wilkes (6'-3" Jr. SG) from Loyola HS in Los Angeles, has taken unofficial visits to Stanford and Arizona, took an in-home visit with the Kansas coaches, and a week ago took an official visit to Kansas.  He has not committed anywhere yet, and will still visit four more schools (officially), although he hasn't identified which ones will get officials.  Omar has told us that he's still considering, in no particular order, Stanford, Kansas, UCLA, USC, Maryland, and Florida, and his father also told us that Omar is very interested in Duke. Omar took the Kansas visit with his travel teammate, David Padgett from Reno, NV, and both reportedly enjoyed it a lot, but neither is evidently ready to commit.  The one school that has been mentioned recently that Omar has not been mentioned in connection with is much for the "package" deal...;

Harrison Schaen (6'-8" Jr. F) from Mater Dei, has taken an official visit to USC, but has not committed anywhere.  He's telling everyone that he'll take visits to Cal, Arizona and Stanford, as well as considering Princeton and Penn for the educational opportunities that they'll offer.   It's unclear at this moment whether USC has actually offered, but they were certainly interested enough to have Harrison on campus for a weekend visit;

Fred Washington (6'-5" Jr. F) from Bishop Montgomery, has not taken any official visits to campuses, but has met off-campus with several schools, including Stanford and LMU coaches.  We haven't heard whether or not either school is prepared to offer him at this point.

Tron Smith (6'-1" Jr. G) from Canyon Springs HS in Moreno Valley, took a visit to Arizona State following his tremendous RSL performances with his Inland team, and has given a verbal commitment to the Sun Devils.

Wesley Walker (6'-3" Jr. G) from Mater Dei, has also already given a verbal commitment to Cal, as we previously reported;

Dominic McGuire (6'-6" Jr. F) from Lincoln Academy in San Diego also has given the Bears another early commitment from the Class of 2003;

D.J. Strawberry (6'-3" Jr. G) from Mater Dei hasn't' committed anywhere yet, but he's getting a lot of attention from some top schools and has some favorites on his list: Oregon, Arizona, Syracuse and Maryland are among the top four suitors at this point;

Marcus Williams ('6'-2" Jr. PG) from Crenshaw, will be transferring to Virginia's Oak Hill Academy, located in the town of Mouth of Wilson, where he'll do his senior year, as previously reported.  Marcus has not committed anywhere yet, and to our knowledge has not taken any official visits, but he's still getting lots of attention from UCLA and expects his recruiting to dramatically open up to include schools like Maryland when he heads east;

Trevor Ariza (6'-7" Jr. G/F) from Westchester is also reportedly considering transferring to Oak Hill as well.

And those are just the most prominent junior prospects who have discussed their recruiting publicly so far in SoCal.....And by the way, this accelerated process is happening all over the country, with juniors making visits, taking visits, and making commitments earlier and earlier than ever before. Thank goodness these kids can't sign National Letters of Intent yet, given that some of the coaches who are recruiting may very well not be there by the time these guys graduate and eventually enroll in college a year and a half from now.... Just ask some of the current seniors who signed this past year in the fall, only to find the coaches at the colleges they committed to now long gone....

Spring marches on...Summer can't be far behind...

There is much consternation and hand-wringing going on in the club tournament and summer camp travel circuits about which events will be "certified" by the NCAA and which won't.  Certification is important, because without the NCAA's blessing, Division I coaches won't be permitted to attend an event.  Likewise, there are questions being raised about the "150-mile" rule which will require club and travel team players to all be from the same state or to live within 150 miles of the place where a team is based, questions about what kind of impact this will have on kids who are from, say,  Montana who have no one else to play with besides their club teammates from Washington or Oregon, who are more than 150 miles away....There are many questions evolving daily about how the NCAA will possibly enforce the coaching "certification" requirement....and on and on. 

We've spoken with some of the NCAA Enforcement folks, including Jan Gentry, who is in charge of the summer certification process, and while she's certainly on top of her game and very informative and cordial, it's also plainly obvious that the NCAA will be outmanned and understaffed to really deal with all the issues that will arise (and even some that have already arisen).  To say that the NCAA is currently having some difficulty getting their arms around the new Bylaw changes, from a practical, real-world point of view, is probably an understatement.

Still, everyone (and that includes the NCAA, the NFHS, the AAU, the state high school athletic associations from those "friendly states" and other entities, including camp and tournament operators) all seem to be proceeding with both eyes open, cautiously evaluating how the changes will really work, how they will benefit coaches and players, and what to do when they don't. 

Rumors earlier that certain camps, most notably ABCD and Nike Camp might "go dark" were just that, i.e., rumors, and they were very much unsubstantiated rumors, and untrue.  While there was evidently some discussion by both the shoe camps that they would refuse to open up their books to the NCAA, and thus would "go dark" because D-I coaches would not be able to attend, that's not going to be the case, and they are in the process of applying for certification, according to Gary DeCesare, who helps organize ABCD.  And while there had been some talk about trying to organize a boycott of the NCAA's requirements by some of the other camps, that's not going to happen either from what we hear.  So most of the other major camps (e.g., Pumps, Five-Star, Eastern Invitational, Fullcourt Press, etc), and most of the top tournaments (e.g., adidas Five Star, adidas Big Time, Pump's Best of Summer, etc.), are also covering their bets and applying for certification.  

So where can and will Division I coaches be this summer, and where are you likely to find them?  Here's where, under the new NCAA amended bylaws (in particular Bylaws 13.13.3 and 30.16, in case anyone is really interested in reading this stuff):

At summer certified events:   As most who have read the new bylaws know, the NCAA's main focus was on returning control of events during the "academic year" (from September through June)  to state high school and junior college athletic associations.  In fact, during the "academic year" the NCAA got entirely out of the event certification business in men's recruiting (they still certify women's events in the spring, fall and summer, something which amazes those of us familiar with Title IX, but that's a whole different issue).   That's why during the recent spring evaluation period which just ended April 30,   there were no NCAA "certified" events, and the only ones that coaches could attend were those few events which were sponsored by the State HS athletic associations in Texas and Nevada.   In the summer, the NCAA has said that they will still certify events, but there are a whole host of requirements that event organizers have to comply with in order to receive this certification.  Of course the NCAA says that Division I coaches can attend three kinds of events this summer.  For the benefit of the shut-ins, there are three categories of "summer events" taking place during the open evaluation period where you'll likely see D-I coaches this summer, and at least one of them will surprise a lot of people (guess which one after you read below):

    1.  At "institutional" camps and events:  The term "institutional" has a particular meaning in NCAA-speak. It means, for example, if Ben Braun at Cal holds a Bear's basketball camp, that he can attend such an "institutional" to observe players and prospects.   "Institutional" doesn't refer to a mental clinic or psychiatric ward (although it might) instead refers to an NCAA "member institution"....

    2.  At "pickup games" and other "noninstitutional unorganized events":  Believe it or not, while the NCAA is seemingly concerned about issues of control, oversight and making sure that players being recruited at the Division I level are evaluated in environments that are wholesome, clean, safe and free of those nasty "outside influences" (read "Myron Piggie-types" here), the NCAA bylaws, in particular Bylaw 13.13.3 permits coaches to attend completely unsupervised pickup games...... Really, we're not making this up.  So you'll of course be seeing Coach K at the local park, watching some of the homies getting in some runs....

    3.  At "noninstitutional organized events":  These events fall into the category of everything else that isn't part of (1) or (2) above, but there's a catch, i.e. events which are not conducted by an NCAA member institution, and which are "organized", i.e., camps, tournaments, festivals, etc.   In order for college coaches to be permitted to attend, all of these events must be "certified per Bylaw 30.16."   So what does this mean?  It means that event operators, including camp and tournament operators, must comply with the numerous new financial and disclosure requirements, with the coaching certification requirements for everyone who will be coaching, and with the player roster residency limitations discussed above.   But there does appear to be a major exception to the rigorous requirements, and its one which is still under study by the NCAA and by the event operators and so far it's a kind of interesting issue:   Bylaw 30.16 says that events which are "approved, sponsored or conducted by" a state, national or international "governing body" are exempt from the certification program requirements.  What this means though has not yet been settled, although we think it's clear as day. More to come shortly

Finally, when it comes to summer recruiting and venues to be at, we'll have our usual list of summer recruiting events posted shortly.  However, until we know for certain which events will be certified, or which events will be approved, sponsored or conducted by some of the state high school, juco, national and international governing bodies, we'll hold off a bit. You'll still be on the safe side if you make reservations for Las Vegas in mid-July.....

A few final random thoughts about the internet and message boards, including our own:

Ok, we know this won't seem like it has much to with basketball, or recruiting, or high school, or college coaches, but stay with us here...just for a little while at least.....We can't help it, but we want to pass along something we came across in the May 6, 2002  issue of Barron's, (see page 50) because we think a lot of you message board junkies like us will really appreciate it.

For those not familiar with Barron's, it's a weekly newspaper, a financial paper mostly published by the editors of the Wall Street Journal --which itself recently had a very interesting story on New England prep schools and some of the top players and tournaments....but that's another subject, and we digress.....   In the May 6 issue, Thomas G. Donlan, one of the editorial page editors for Barron's,   was in the midst of writing a piece about how to "value networks".... meaning, in financial-speak,   how to value a network for purposes of establishing worth, both from a market perspective and from a social utility point of view (e.g., phone networks, computers, etc).  Ok, we see some of you beginning to glaze over just about now....WAKE UP....follow us here just a little more....

Anyway, right there in the middle of Mr. Donlan's op-ed piece about networks was a bit of prose we found really enlightening for those of you (and we include ourselves in this) who regularly visit internet message boards like   Bruinzone, Cyberbears, BRO, BibbyBaby's, etc, as well as our own SoCalHoops message forums (or is that "fora"?)  The article was entitled "A New Law of Large Networks." 

Here the excerpt: 

"Metcalfe's Law

At the dawn of the Internet era, Robert W. Metcalfe, designer of the Ethernet network technology and founder of 3Com, ignored the complexities [of how to value networks as they grow larger and more complex] and propounded a simple "law" that says the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of nodes.  It's not really a law, however, but an observation, like Moore's Law--in which Intel founder Gordon Moore observed that the number of transistors on a chip doubles every 18 months.

Metcalfe's Law has been much abused.  It was the foundation for the fantastical vision of a New Economy with universal electronic markets, justifying speculators' wild scramble for early dominance of new dot-com markets:   Once established, a network of job-seekers or junk-sellers supposedly would be so valuable to the users that no later network could be established to compete against it.

Despite the late unpleasantness in the Internet economy and on the stock market, which demonstrated how easy it can be to shoot a "first mover" in the back, the network effect is still an article of New Economic faith, and still is widely expected to produce inexhaustible demand for bandwidth.  Since every node added to a network makes each existing node more valuable, trees may yet grow to the sky.

Well, maybe not.

There is a necessary qualification for Metcalfe's Law:   A growth in value, whatever the value is, can occur with the addition of each user if all the users of a network are of equal weight and if all the information being exchanged is of equal significance.  If not, some of the additional nodes do not add as much value as others.  Worse, if they are just noise, they subtract value.

On the Internet, as the famous New Yorker cartoon had it, nobody knows you are a dog.  That's why democracy does not always work there.   Like buyers and sellers in a marketplace, all users of networks are not equal.   For example, those who wish to use a message board to exchange rational comments on stocks are crowded off many such sites by morons whose limited creative capacity has been devoted to the composition of invective.  When such an idiot logs in, he does not increase the value of the system to all other users. Message boards, like magazines, need editors."

Just a little something to think about.....Welcome back....

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