It wasn’t quite the rabbit out of the hat that Julian Wright was for Bill Self and this one had more twists and turns than a Six Flags rollercoaster – but in the end the Jayhawks came away with another McDonald’s All-American. In the recruitment that seemingly would never end, Darrell Arthur nixed any further speculation and in a mild surprise, chose Kansas on Tuesday.
This one made Malik Hairston’s recruitment look fairly short and simple.
It’s rare for any player to be available at this stage of the game yet one of Arthur’s caliber. In a day and age where high school prep stars continue to make their college choices known earlier and earlier, Darrell Arthur went against the norm by making an 11th hour decision. There were no leaks associated with this decision either, another oddity in today’s recruiting world.
Most players want the relief and the burden lifted early in their senior seasons, but apparently today’s recruiting pressure-cooker never phased the Arthur camp.
Originally Slim Shady was set to make his decision on Monday, but just when you thought things couldn’t get any wilder, he delayed his press conference yet another day.
This one was really nine months of rampant rumors. Arthur was known to not only keep the media guessing, but even the coaches involved in this recruitment had no idea where they stood at times. Contacting Scout.com’s number nine prospect was not always easy.
During his marathon recruitment, Arthur at one point or another, listed the following schools as a favorite; Texas, Baylor, LSU, KU, and Indiana. Remember, had Mike Davis remained at Indiana there’s a chance we wouldn’t be talking about this right now. Had the NBA not instituted an age limitation there’s a good chance Arthur would be fulfilling expectations at the pro level. But ultimately, it was Self who again claimed the McDonald’s All-American.
I’ll be the first to tell you, the longer this recruitment dragged on, the less chance I gave KU of nailing the South Oak Cliff High star. That’s not about doubting what Self had to offer, it was wondering what was taking Arthur so long to recognize it.
At the Final Four in Indianapolis, one person close to the situation assured me KU would get its man and that eventually Lawrence would be Arthur’s final destination. I just didn’t buy it.
Shortly after, rumors circulated about LSU. The “talk” was that Arthur was headed for the Bayou. Fresh off a Final Four appearance and suddenly minus the services of Tyrus Thomas (early NBA entry), it appeared the Tigers had the upper hand in Arthur’s recruitment. The playing time was available and John Brady had seemingly snuck in for a late season steal. Arthur even went as far as to say the Tigers were “seemingly the perfect fit.”
In a 180-degree turn, and mind you that was a regular occurrence in this saga, Arthur never contacted LSU after his visit and three staff’s began the nail-biting wait.
But now that the suspense is over, it’s Self who faces the challenge of keeping a roster full of stars happy and focused. Most coaches would consider that a good problem to have. It’s tough to argue that there are many more talented groups from top to bottom in college basketball than the one that resides in Lawrence as defending Big 12 champs.
Sherron Collins gives KU the extra ball-handler needed, Brady Morningstar could turn out to be an important role player, and Shady’s athletic frame gives KU another face up option up front. Has Self helped himself with the additions to next year’s roster? It sure would be tough to argue otherwise. But…
If Jayhawk fans think a roster full of NBA prospects means an automatic Final Four berth -- think again. In fact, just ask Jim Calhoun. Recruiting is the easy part, now comes the hard part of putting it all together and achieving the chemistry necessary to win it all.