CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Wake Forest coach Danny Manning expounded on several macro-level topics at the end of his interview session at ACC Operation Basketball.
Here’s the final segment of that interview.
Manning: “You can’t prepare for ACC by not playing quality opponents. You can’t do it. You can’t prepare a young team to go on the road in the ACC, if you don’t do it in the non-conference. That’s just where we’re at as a program. I think that will change, and will change for everybody in our league when we go to 20 league games. We go to 20 league games, most of us will try to play as many home games as we can. Just generically thinking about it right now, you want to end December with at least 10 wins in your pocket before you get into conference. We’re talking about 20 conference games now. That’s going to become a formula for a lot of us, going into conference play. We’re not going to worry as much about non-conference schedule and the RPI and things of that nature, because you’re adding two more ACC conference games. You’ve got the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and then a MTE (multi-team event) that will probably give you two more league-type opponents. So you’re looking at about 25 league-type games. Now, you go back and look at your teams, and at times it will be tough for your young guys to grow, because you won’t be able to let them play through mistakes. That could lead to more transfers.
“Kids have to understand it’s a process, and it’s a grind. We’re in the moment of instant gratification type of athletic society at times. Not with everybody, but with many. It’s a race. It’s a race to get to the best high school that travels and goes to the best tournaments. Then it’s a race to get the best AAU team that travels and has the best gear. Then it’s a race to get to college. It’s a race to get out of college, because they think they’re a professional. There are a lot of great stories out there of guys that didn’t go to college and have had successful careers. There are guys that went to college just one or two years and have been very successful. But you need to write about the kids that aren’t successful. Those are the ones these kids need to understand. Where is the kid at now that leaves college after one year, gets that guaranteed first contract and then from that point on, for lack of a better phrase, becomes a basketball vagabond. That’s not disrespect intended. They go from here to here to here to here, making a living in your profession. But you have to ride that out, because you left school early, you’re two years away from graduating.
“Then you factor in the International piece. The NBA Draft is just two rounds. Let’s do the match. How many draft picks in the first round? How many of those are European players? There were maybe 15 guys in the first round who got drafted from the states? 14? You get drafted in the second round, you may as well not get drafted. Then you can pick a team that might have a real need for you. A lot of these young kids, and the people who are advising them have no idea how hard it is to be a professional athlete, regardless of the sport. The phenomena of a big fish in a small pond, that’s a lot of people’s mindsets. Look at Cat Barber. That is one of the most talented cats the ACC has seen in quite some time. He led the league in scoring. He didn’t get drafted. He just got cut my Philadelphia, and he’s a damn good basketball player. It’s also fit, timing and so many other things that go into it. Cat Barber is going to play in the NBA. People don’t look at that. They don’t understand that. I know Cat, and recruited Cat when I was at Kansas. I’m not being disrespectful at all. It’s just a tough gig.”
On how recruiting is different now versus when he was playing
Manning: “Polar opposites. When I was being recruited, you high school coach was key and your family was important. Now, the dynamics have changed. Some guys it’s his high school coach, for others it’s his AAU coach and for some it’s both. Family, friends, workout guys. You have to touch a lot of different people to have a chance to recruit kids in today’s society. You can tough 12 people in that young man’s circle, and if you miss out on 13, 13 might be the one doing damage to you. It’s just a different era and a different type of mentality. It gets back to the race. Kids want to get in school, to get out of school, with sometimes no real thought process in terms of future.”
On recruiting at Wake, where the academic standards are higher
Manning: “We all have our profiles that we recruit to. Everybody has their own profile. Some profiles vary from the others. We use the model basically when we talk to our guys. We tell our guys they can be good in two of the three categories: academically, athletically and socially. You can’t be good in all three. There’s not enough time, so just understand where your priorities lie. It’s a lot different for kids these days. I’ve got two children. My daugher is 26 and my son is 23. There’s a lot more things out there to spoil you that they can gravitate to. That’s the sign of the times, and I understand that. We as coaches and educators have to understand. It doesn’t make it any easier, but you understand it.”