Hoping to get into broadcasting, Dave Telep fell upon an opportunity to become a basketball scout. He quickly fell in love with the profession, and 10 years later, Telep is considered one of the nation's premier talent evaluators. He has worked at PrepStars.com and Rivals.com and is now the national recruiting director for Scout.com. He also is a commentator on Countdown to Signing Day, a television show on Fox Sports.
Scott Powers: What do you think makes Scout.com unique?
Dave Telep: The difference for me really is I believe we are the industry leader in breaking college recruiting basketball news. I feel our recruiting lists and our evaluations set the industry's standards. This is what we do seven days a week, 365 days a year. I think we do it at a high level as a network, and that's why we've been successful.
Powers: There seem to be so many other recruiting services out there now. How do you feel about the influx?
Telep: That doesn't really bother me. That's good for the market place. That makes you better at your job with the competition. My job hinges on seeing players. There could be 100 guys or two guys, and I would be going to the same number of events. I'm 32 years old, but I feel like 50 and that's OK. Every year my job expands not contracts. Every year you're going to make mistakes. But you hope to have more answers than questions, and you want to see as many guys as you can. I really do hold true to the opinion that every person should get a chance to show what they can do. Taking long dinners and extended lunches are not what I do. If you're out watching players, asking questions, researching players and working hard, you're going to have a good product.
Powers: Where do you find time for vacations?
Telep: Finding a week to take a vacation is the most difficult for me. I've taken some vacations at some funky time of the years. There's a week in December right before the Christmas tournaments that's a great time to take a vacation. This is a 12-month-a-year job. If you're not a workaholic, it'd be difficult to imagine doing a job like this. You don't clock in and clock out. Commitments happen at 10 a.m. as much as they do at 10 p.m. You have to have a very understanding family.
Powers: With the shoe camps approaching, what will your schedule be like?
Telep: I leave my house on July 5 and go to the Adidas Superstar Camp in Savannah, Ga., on the 5th and 6th. I have a 6 a.m. flight on the 7th that takes me to the Nike All-American Camp in Indianapolis. I'm at the Nike Camp on the 7th, 8th and 9th. On the 10th, I'll try to hit the Hoosier Shootout for a half a day. I come home on the 10th to Raleigh, N.C. I fly on the 11th to Atlanta and drive over to the Peach Jam in Augusta. On the 14th, 15th and 16th, I'll fly to West Virginia for the Harley Davidson Shootout. I come home a few days and fly to Las Vegas on the 21st. I'll go home to change my clothes, repack my suitcase and I head to Orlando on the 28th, where I'll be until August 1 for the AAU nationals.
Powers: What drives you to do this?
Telep: I love it. I love being in the gym. I love breaking guys down. I love watching kids play. I like watching kids get better. I like draft nights watching guys I've seen for years become millionaires. I was an awful basketball player. I played high school basketball up until my sophomore year in high school. I knew early on college athletics wouldn't be my thing. But I was that guy, if my buddy was wrestling a guy cross town, I'd know about that guy. This is my way to be part of athletics when you're not a great athlete and can't compete at the highest level. This for me is a dream come true. This proves you don't have to be a great basketball player to be good at this. You have to learn on a daily basis and want to get better at your job. It's like going to school every day and learning something. For me, that's how approach my job.
Powers: Any surprises on draft night?
Telep: How many? Where do you want to start? Because of the success of Adam Morrison and Tyrus Thomas, I went back and looked at the evaluations of our top 100 players over the years to see where we made mistakes. I'd love to tell you I saw Tyrus Thomas and Adam Morrison coming. Dwyane Wade didn't start on his AAU team. He was a late bloomer. So were Adam Morrison and Tyrus Thomas. Great players aren't necessarily always McDonald's All-Americans. I think that's a valuable lesson from this NBA draft.
Powers: How did Wade become such a great player after not being noticed in high school?
Telep: Looking back on Dwyane Wade, the thing that would stick out for me is he came off the bench for his AAU team. They had a lot of guys — the Darius Miles, the Matt Lotichs. The thing is he had one of those senior years. Tom Crean was telling everyone who would listen that Dwyane Wade was a great player. It was just slower for him. When it happened, it was just gangbusters.
Powers: Who in Illinois do you like now?
Telep: I think Mike Dunigan (Farragut/MeanStreets) is going to be a serious basketball player when it's all said and done. He's like a Brian Carlwell with more upside and potential. Obviously, there's no more secrets about Derrick Rose (Simeon/MeanStreets Express). Most guards in the country don't have the skills and gifts he has at the point guard position. Derrick has different gears and different athletic attributes. He's as explosive a point guard as you'll see. When Derrick Rose becomes more comfortable in his own skin, is more assertive and realizes it's OK to take over because you're the best player on the floor, he has the potential to become one of the best point guards in his generation.
Powers: Anyone in the spring and summer boost his stock?
Telep: I think Brandon McGee (Crane/Illinois Warriors) started out the spring as hot as you could be. We put him in our top 100, and I don't think anyone saw that coming. He played really well with the Illinois Warriors. Guys like Brandon McGee and Evan Turner (St. Joseph/Illinois Wolves) did a lot to elevate their stocks. I'll tell you who are going to be good players and could be successful are Mike Capocci (Glenbard East/Illinois Defenders) and Michael Thompson (Lincoln Park/Rising Stars). Both are going to Northwestern. Michael Thompson is one of the most underrated players in the country. He just wills his team. That kid's a winner. Mike Capocci is just an interesting blend-type player who gets a lot done on the basketball court. These are two guys you don't hear much about. I think that they were better in the spring than I thought they would be.
Powers: Who's the best player in the Class of 2007?
Telep: O.J. Mayo. I don't think people understand that O.J. Mayo is dealing with circumstances that most 18-year-olds don't have to deal with. Because of his situation, he has people pulling him in different directions and then there's basketball. How he deals with things off the court will affect his playing. After the summer, it will affect whether he's still considered the No. 1 player. You can't get by on your reputation. If Derrick Rose ever wanted to take over a game or camp – one of the knocks on Derrick, and he'll be the first to say this, is he can be passive – he has the capability of being the best player in the country.
Powers: Did you see setting an age requirement for the NBA as a positive or negative?
Telep: It really depends on who you're asking the question for. As a college basketball traditionalist, it's great to see these guys go to college, and, selfishly, I get to watch them for a few years. But I think a few of these guys are ready to make the jump and can be successful. That's unfortunate for them. I don't see why a guy who's ready to make that step should be regulated. Greg Oden is good enough to be in the NBA. Players like Spencer Hawes, Kevin Durant and Brandon Wright have been drafted the past 10 years. They are going to get better in college. The reason there is a rule is because there are some guys who couldn't handle themselves. The NBA made a blanket rule for everybody. You had guys who weren't ready and you had NBA teams who tried to use their league as a farm system. I really do think there are a handful of guys who are ready to make that jump. Those guys are serious basketball players. Basketball is going to be their job. I don't think we should fault them if they want to do their job.
Powers: How do you feel about Illinois changing to four-class basketball?
Telep: Anytime there's change and there's something different, people have different reactions all across the board. I have some traditionalist in me. The same thing happened in Indiana and it was kind of sad. Is it the end of the world? No. Is it difficult for some people to imagine? Yeah. Sometimes change is right, sometimes it's not. As a traditionalist, I think when Indiana went to four classes I was disappointed. I think a lot of people the same feeling about Illinois.
Scott Powers is the Publisher of ILLHoops.com e-magazine which provides premier coverage of high school and AAU basketball in the state of Illinois. Annual subscriptions to the e-magazine are available for just $20.
Q&A with Dave Telep
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