Out on the recruiting trails - trails which aren't dirt path trails at all, but lines of electronic communication and private jet miles - coaches feel the desperation. It's April 17th, and the Spring signing period in college basketball is in full swing.
There are depth issues to be addressed, and there is the hope that an unheralded player can become what Derrick Williams was for Arizona, or what CJ McCollum was for Lehigh. With the difference-making prospects gone, coaches are scrambling to compete mostly for "diamond in the rough" ballers.
This is where the spring signing season goes wrong.
Mind you, spring signings aren't all bad. Current Erie Bayhawks forward D.J. Kennedy was a spring signee in 2007, as was Sean Evans. But every spring, a few players get looks a little higher than their level, and coaches reach out for players who aren't ready to successfully compete at the high major level.
Take, for example, Kansas forward Mervyn Lindsay. He is transferring from Bill Self's program. I had never heard of Merv Lindsay. But as a completely unheralded 6'6" (six-foot-seven for those whose hopes inflate prospect sizes) forward out of Moreno Valley, California, he drew attention from the Jayhawks and Marquette ($). Now, he's looking elsewhere for more playing time, an announcement made on the same day that top-100 recruit Andrew White's National Letter of Intent arrived at Kansas. Lindsay averaged 2.2 minutes per game.
Lindsay committed in June of 2011.
Last spring, St. John's was chasing Malian forward Daouda Soumaoro from Our Savior New American (the same school as Chris Obekpa and Red Storm commit Felix Balamou). His was from non-power conferences (VCU, Northeastern, and Iona were mentioned) and a couple desperate-for-size power conference schools (St. John's, Washington, Washington State). He committed to Texas Tech (possibly as a walk-on) in May of 2011. By September, Soumaoro had left the school for Iowa Western Community College, where he seems to have not played.
Two examples aren't a rule.
But it is possible that both players - like many others - make decisions that sound impressive, but don't meet their basketball goals.
Spring recruiting period (for some schools) takes on the air of a late night bar/ dance club, where some of the promises made between parties are seen with the rosiest glasses, where agreements are made without thought of the ramifications. Players want to hook up with high-prestige programs, and coaches want to find the athlete that his peers missed.
Think of St. John's signings of Quincy Roberts and TyShwan Edmondson. Why were they late targets? Other prospects didn't pan out on the recruiting trail, and the staff signed those two as depth. They were overmatched on the Big East level, players brought in quickly to fill holes who the staff thought they might develop.
Both parties pledge to each other with only a few weeks of contact, all in an excited flurry, with the player not wanting to enter the summer with no college destination. Players are wowed by the names without considering their long-term fit. Coaches are wowed by the hops in showcase environments without considering how quickly those tools can transform into production.
Sometimes, that leads to another notch on the next season's transfer list.
Keep that in mind as we discuss late-season recruiting.
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