Johnson talks recruiting

It seems appropriate that after being on the road for a couple of weeks that much of the time on LSU men's basketball coach Trent Johnson's first SEC teleconference would focus on recruiting.

That was one of the major topics discussed by writers from throughout the league Wednesday as they chatted with the coaches in their annual summer teleconference. The Tigers are continuing their summer workouts and summer school activities in preparation for the 2008-09 season.

LSU technically returns several starters back from last year’s team led by seniors Garrett Temple, Chris Johnson and Marcus Thornton. Alex Farrer started the last 12 games of the 2007-08 season and Tasmin Mitchell played just the first three games before a stress fracture sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Mitchell, who has started 71 consecutive games at LSU, was given a medical redshirt year and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

The LSU coaches and other Division I coaches will return to the recruiting road beginning next week to conclude the July recruiting period.

Here are the comments from Coach Johnson in Wednesday’s teleconference:

On if he agrees there has been a rise of third party recruiting in the last 10 years ...
“Of course I would, but I would also like to add to that. Regardless of the third party, whether we are referring to the AAU, high school coach, or college coach, or even NBA coach, there are good coaches and there are bad people at every level. There are some good coaches at every level and every aspect, but I would agree with the third party.”

On how he deals with friends and other family members affecting recruiting ...
“For me personally it will always start with the kid, the guardian and the high school coach, and then from there you will have to move forward. The process as a whole starts at way too early an age. These kids are now being targeted whether they are in seventh or sixth grade. You look at the recruiting process, and it is way too early now. I think it affects everything. It affects the APR. It affects a lot of things. If you go back in the past and look at over the history of when kids were seniors or completing their junior year that they were remotely making decisions on the interest level of certain schools. So I think there are a lot of variables.”

On if the situation with Brandon Jennings (going to Europe as a pro without going to college) will affect how he will recruit top athletes ...
“No. For me personally, and I have done this at every place that I have been as a head coach, you have to look at your team that you are trying to build. You look at your roster and make sure that if there is a young man that is a possibility of being a one and done or even a two and done that you have some separation between your classes and you have guys who can come in and fulfill a role and understand. That is the biggest thing. We all want to recruit the best player possible, but we also have to look at what is best for your program and your team over the long haul.”

On what factors have sped up the recruiting process ...
“The bottom line is, and I don’t know when it started, but it used to be that you got a lot of mail and attention when you completed your junior year, and I am going back to when I was a player. Guys were making decisions when you were going into your senior year, and all of a sudden it started when it was your junior year or your sophomore year. I think it is a very delicate topic and subject in terms of putting a mandate or a rule on it. In society as a whole, things have changed in terms of when we all make decisions. Kids are recruitable athletes in the ninth grade, but kids are being targeted and watched when they are in the seventh grade and they are being written and talked about. It’s not comical, but it’s a reality that there is a sixth grade kid, seventh grade kid or even a kid in the fifth grade who is a pretty good, explosive athlete and is a pretty good basketball or baseball player. That is going to circulate through the middle school, grade school and junior high – the whole nine yards. That is the era in which we live.”

On his thoughts on being asked to refrain from offering scholarships to kids until they complete 10th grade ...
“I agree with it, but when a kid is a recruitable athlete, I am going to evaluate him and look at him and do everything possible within the rules. But it’s hard for me to get excited about a kid who is going into the ninth or 10th grade. A lot can change, and I’m not talking physically as much as I am talking mentally, between your ninth or 10th grade year in high school and your junior and senior year in high school.”

On his thoughts on possibly shortening the season and starting later as has been suggested ...
“Right now I am in the middle of it. When you talk about shortening the season, everything is based off money and revenue. The one thing I am really an advocate of is a longer break between Christmas. It’s funny, basketball is the one sport because of the length of the season, whether you’re a quarter or a semester school, that these kids come on campus and they don’t get a break. If certain teams advance deep into the (NCAA) tournament, they don’t get a spring break.”

On whether he thinks it is possible for the schedule to decrease ...
“I would be shocked. I would be surprised.”


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