Bennie Seltzer is testing by the rules of fashion this week in Las Vegas.
The first-year Hoosier assistant coach couldn't be overlooked in Sin City Tuesday, as he was spotted sitting courtside for one of Maurice Creeek's games dressed in the candy-striped red pants that are synonymous with IU basketball. While the scores of other college basketball coaches wore t-shirts and golf shirts with their programs' emblems, no one made a louder statement than Seltzer on the opening day of AAU Nationals.
Of course by the time word had spread about Seltzer's attire he was off, headed to another destination to scout another one of the thousands of prep players who are in Las Vegas this week for the biggest show of the AAU season. Each of the three major shoe companies are holding events in Las Vegas this week, attracting hundreds of teams, nearly all of the prominent players, and hundreds of college coaches to town for five days.
While it's a great chance for coaches to evaluate just about anybody they'd like, it can also be a logistical nightmare. The games are scattered throughout Las Vegas and the surrounding areas, prompting coaches to make good use of their GPS systems as they bounce from gym to gym.
"I've put as many as many as 400 miles on my rental car in a day going from gym to gym," Seltzer said. "You have a gym across town and you go and watch a half of this kid, and then you drive across town to catch the second half of this kid, and if the gym is behind one or two games it screws up your whole schedule."
In some cases the time spent in Las Vegas is a valuable opportunity to evaluate potential recruits, such as in the case of Indianapolis' Stephan Van Treese. But in many other instances it's about making sure that the recruits see the various coaching staffs.
"The majority of these kids, we know they can play," Seltzer said. "So it comes to the point that you want to be seen by those kids. You're in there, and they know you're in there, you watch them play for a little bit, and then it's off to the next gym."
Indiana's presence won't be overlooked this week thanks to Seltzer's attire. While it might be seen as a bit of a gimmick by some, it's a way for kids to see that Indiana has a presence, despite the sporadic absence of the face of the program, Tom Crean. Crean's off-campus recruiting days continue to be significantly limited due to the IU's self-imposed sanctions, preventing him from taking in all of the action this week.
Some might question the need for face time with prospects who have already been evaluated, but it's undeniable that it matters to most recruits. Most of their attention is focused on their games, but most can't help but see who's in the stands watching their contests.
"I really do look at (who's watching me play) a lot because it shows how much of an interest they have in somebody, that you're looking and trying to see them play, it shows me they want to see how I'm developing, they want me to see them so I know he's still recruiting me," said one of IU's 2009 recruiting targets, Roger Franklin. "So I'm pretty big on that."
Franklin can rest assured that the IU coaching staff will take in a game or two of his this weekend, as can Christian Watford, Van Treese, Maurice Creek, Harrison Barnes, Josh Smith, Cody Zeller, and slews of others from the 2009, 2010 and 2011 classes. To get it done Seltzer, Tim Buckley and Crean will be sitting in gyms from sunrise to well past sun down during a five-day Vegas excursion that is anything but a vacation.
"The road is tough," Seltzer said. "You don't get much sleep, you have to get up for the 8 o'clock game and you can be in the gym until about 12:30 (a.m.). It's action-packed and it's non-stop."
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Vegas Is No Vacation for College Coaches
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