Former University of Kentucky coach Tubby Smith took time to talk about a variety of subjects during a recent interview.
This is the fourth part of an exclusive series with Kentucky Sports Report that offers some insights into Smith and the feeling he still has for Kentucky.
Question: You have a top 20 recruiting class for 2008. Is recruiting different at Minnesota than it was at Kentucky?
Smith: "It is the same stuff. It's all about doing your homework and being within the rules to make sure you are staying on top of things. A lot of people said we could not recruit this or that at Kentucky. We had three All-Americans (Rajon Rondo, Joe Crawford and Randolph Morris) in one year and there would have been four if you added Ramel Bradley, who would have been a McDonald's All-American if he had not gone to prep school his senior year.
It's all about chemistry. You can get the best players, but you have got to have the right players. Look at Billy Donovan. He had a bunch of All-Americans and then won a national championship without any of them. It's all about the right combination and chemistry and then being able to keep them content and playing together."
Question: What about coaching? Have you changed in any way since you left UK?
Smith: "The competition here is just as competitive. The venues you go to like Michigan State, Wisconsin or anywhere are tough. It is very balanced much like the SEC. We probably are a little more spread out than the SEC from Pennsylvania to Minneapolis. They are all in the northern part of the country. There are great coaches, talented players in this league. But coaching is still about the same."
Question: Apparently your camps have gone great. What does that mean to your program?
Smith: "It has been amazing. Camps are down around the country, but ours is up. People here said our camp was the only one that increased. Of course, we got here late last year. We went from 50 in our day camp last year to 170 this year. Our overnight camp had maybe 80 or 90 last year and is over 200 already this year. We had 12 teams last year at our team camp and had 28 this year, including three of the four state champions in the state.
"Camp is the best time of the year. If I could be at camp every day all day, I would be so happy. There is nothing like it. There's no air conditioning, but to see those kids' faces and how excited and attentive they are is great. When you get to share your love and passion of something with enthusiastic kids it makes it so much fun no matter how hot it is."
Question: There has been a lot of attention lately, though, about not recruiting young players. How do you balance that with getting kids to camp early and also not falling behind in recruiting?
Smith: "You have these camps to expose kids to your program. You are not just recruiting for basketball, but for the university. We have kids from Belgium, California, Texas, Nevada and other places in camp. They come from all over, just like they do at Kentucky.
"I know there is one kid I was talking to Billy (Gillispie) about (that committed to UK) that been in camp two or three years at UK. I told him I would do the same thing. I can appreciate a parent knowing his or her son has been offered scholarship at the University of Kentucky. It does not get much better than that. You are getting your education paid for. I love what he is doing. It is a tough call on that early recruiting.
"The thing is can you honestly say a player will be able to play for you in four years. At the same time there was an uproar about inviting seventh- and eighth-grade players to an all-American camp. Combine that with the college presidents trying to change academics and make sure kids are qualified (academically) and there was a lot of incentive to do something (about early commitments). When you combine the culture at this juncture, that is why there was such move made by the coaches' association."
Tubby Smith discusses camps and recruiting
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