AJ's Musings

Once upon a time I rarely followed college basketball recruiting. I usually knew some stuff about McDonald's All-Americans and where they were going to school, but often not until attending the Capital Classic in the Washington, D.C. area.

Even as a sports writer, I have been much more interested in writing about the players currently in college, not those who may or may not sign with an Atlantic Coast Conference school. But, as part of my job responsibility at the Wilmington Star-News and commitment to my role here at Inside Carolina, I have written about and followed the recruiting game for a while now.

I'm no Dave Telep, and will never make such a claim. In fact, I generally don't watch high school players. I prefer to leave that up to the few experts out there whom I respect, and Telep is one of about five I like a lot.

But even as I would research information on the players I had to write about – to present information about their recruitments, not as analyses – I often wondered about a business that makes a point of talking to cousins of this guy, sister's boyfriends of that guy, and grandmother's of that guy, who happens to be a sophomore in high and not old enough yet to drive.

When JamesOn Curry committed to UNC as a sophomore last year there were discussions on my radio show with most callers citing their frustration over young kids making such early decisions. Most callers were disgusted. Some understood the necessity to offer a scholarship to a Curry, as unproven as he was and unpolished as he may have been.

"What if he doesn't improve much between now and the time he comes to Carolina," one caller would ask.

"What if he changes his mind in a year from now when he can make official visits and decides to go to another school, UNC will be screwed," asked another concerned UNC fan.

I fully understood their concerns, and considering how uncomfortable I was with certain aspects of reporting on the recruiting game, I told them this was how things were now done and that we would all adjust. Many wondered when it would stop: ninth grade, eighth, seventh? Is there someone out there observing elementary school kids at recess looking for that next hot recruit?

As I have come to accept this practice, and respect those that do it for a living - understanding it is a true craft to consistently be better than the horde of "guru" wannabes that simply don't have an equal eye for talent - I often wonder about fans who talk on message boards, at water coolers and on call-in shows more about a high school junior wing from New Jersey who recently narrowed his list of schools to 22, including a few like Fordham and Delaware, knowing fully well he isn't going to either. I am amazed, and partly frightened, that they know his stats better than their own starting wing forward's.

And yet I marvel at their passion, especially when someone with an anonymous handle gives his thorough opinion about a 6-foot-7 slasher from Florida he has never seen play, and writes, "He's coming gang. He's ours. No doubt, and he'll give us 15 (points) and 7 (rebounds) next year. I am smelling F4 boys!!!!!!!"

I love it.

As for me, it's part job and part a need to know. If I didn't do this for a living I would start following recruiting during the summer for rising seniors. Now, on to your thoughts.

This week's questions have to do with recruiting, and how IC's readers treat it and perhaps see its future. I will select a few e-mails to post in next week's Musings. Send all responses totlsprts@aol.com.

Do you make a point of not following kids until their junior years are over with? If you knew a highly touted high school freshman was interested in UNC and was already 6-foot-9, would you post about his point and rebound totals on the message boards? How far do you think this will go? Do you feel message board posters can attract a recruit to your school of choice by how you post or perhaps even turn him away?


Last week's questions were: Will you diehard ACC fans ever fully accept B.C. and Syracuse as ACC teams like you have the current nine schools? And if you do, will you ever root for them in the postseason? Turn back the clock seven weeks, would you pull for Carmelo Anthony over Roy Williams?

Most e-mailers strayed a bit from the actual questions or took a long time to get to the point. Here are some responses:

From Craig Carpenter

To answer this weeks questions...No and the best I can hope for is to not root against them. I do agree BC is a notch down on my angst list.

From Shane McGrath

Let me just say that I don't root for any other teams in America regardless of conference other then North Carolina. I never have found any reason too. Let me also say that I hope to see Raymond running the break against many teams next year regardless of who they are. No BC and Syracuse will never be considered true members in my mind. However it is good finically to expand and money drives college sports.

From Robert

I am a fan of good basketball and the Big East was as good as it gets in the day of Ewing, Mullen, Pearl Washington , Mark Jackson etc. They had titanic struggles. So I liked to watch the games. I haven't watched as much lately because the league hasn't been as interesting. But there would be great games between Syr and Duke. If Williams can get the heels back to the top then those will be good games. The league will work pretty well as far as far as bball goes. I love to watch big time games so yes I'd be a fan. Football will be a disaster. Duke/Miami. Wake/Miami. Syr and BC also will hand the devils and Deacs losses. I just don't see Duke ever competing in football and I don't think Wake will either. The Heels and almost everyone else will get smacked in football by Miami. I'd rather see S.C. back in the league along with Miami and Va. Tech.

Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He also covers the ACC for the Wilmington Star-News/Morning Star and can be reached via e-mail at: totlsprts@aol.com.

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