Explaining a Miss
After Norris Cole of Cleveland State did put up a completely ridiculous stat line of 41 points, 20 rebounds, and nine assists, an immediate question became how did this cat get away from all of the big time schools that recruit the state of Ohio?
The answer is not necessarily an easy one. Cole won a state title at Dayton Dunbar, played with other high profile targets such as Oklahoma City Thunder guard Daequan Cook, current University of Dayton forward Josh Benson, and his college teammate Aaron Pogue who had high-major attention as a freshman, had excellent grades, and also he played a premium position as a point guard.
Still up until the very beginning of his senior season, Cole was largely overlooked. In fact his original college decision came down to Robert Morris, who was the only division I school to offer under then coach Mark Schmidt, and Walsh College which is an NAIA school in northeast Ohio.
Due to some begging and pleaded from a certain scout located in Cincinnati at the time, schools such as Wright State, Dayton, Xavier, and others all took a last minute evaluation of Cole right at the start of his high school year, but none of them were too impressed and didn't offer a scholarship.
In the end Cole chose Walsh because of the academics as well as his relationship with the coach recruiting him, now West Virginia Director of Basketball Operations, Jerrod Calhoun.
Still since Walsh was an NAIA school, and with Calhoun moving on to his post at West Virginia, Cole began to look around after leading his high school team to another state title as a senior. Eventually Cole settled on Cleveland State after meeting with Head Coach Gary Waters.
Now obviously Cole is a finalist for the Bob Cousy award as one of the top point guards in college basketball, put up the line of the year with a double-double in each half of a game, and to think he was on his way to never playing division I basketball.
It isn't a perfect science this scouting and recruiting and everyone misses, but the miss of Norris Cole is one of the biggest from many schools in the state of Ohio in recent memory.
This is the time of year where coaches panic. They panic about their teams, they panic about their recruiting, and well they probably panic about what they are having for lunch. That is simply how they are wired.
That culture of panic is why so many new names are popping up on the high-major radar. Kids that were simply low or mid-major recruits at the beginning of the season and over the summer are now getting love from power schools in power conferences.
With this, coaches walk a very fine line. Sure it may be obvious every day in practice that their team needs a point guard or lacks a useful big man following a transfer or a recruit simply not panning out as expected, but seeing that need on a daily basis and being able to address it in a positive manner are two completely different things.
While every coach wants to add that diamond in the rough late, and no doubt kids do emerge as seniors, usually there is a reason they evaluated a kid 10 times over the summer and didn't offer. It is because the prospect simply isn't good enough to make an impact.
For coaches and fans this is one of the hardest things to balance. How do you fill a need by adding a player to replace one who isn't performing without simply making the problem worse by filling another scholarship with dead weight. Too often decisions on who to recruit late are based on panic rather than a well thought out plan, and often that can lead to a case of buyer's remorse.
After a slow go of things for a while in terms of college decisions, things picked up in a big way over the past week. Some big name schools and high level athletes made their decision.
It all seemed to get started eight days ago when Duke landed a five-star pledge from Rasheed Sulaimon. Sulaimon is one of the top shooters in the 2012 class, and someone who should come in right away and fill a role for the Blue Devils.
After that a bonanza of commitments ensued. Clemson landed 2012 forward Jaron Blossomgame, Auburn snagged 2012 guard Shaquille Johnson, NC State picked up under the radar big man Josip Mikulic, and that was just the beginning.
At the mid-major level Fairfield got a pledge from Vince Van Nes, and Kent State earned a verbal from big time 2011 scorer Kris Brewer. Both of those could be commitments that are overlooked now, but remembered one day in March a few years down the road after they lead their team to an upset win.
Still more was to come. The Purdue Boilermakers picked up a pair of commitments in the 2013 class. First it was Kendall Stephens and then it was Basil Smotherman. Both Stephens and Smotherman are talented wings who are known for their ability to shoot.
The busyness didn't end there as a de-commitment also broke when Abdel Nader backed out of his pledge to New Mexico. Since then Nader has picked up offers from Marquette, DePaul, and Oklahoma State with interest coming in from Michigan State, Baylor, Xavier, and a host of others.