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St. John's Basketball Links 07.23.08

What, you didn't know Rick Ross was a former corrections officer? OK, neither did I. Now for the links:

Tevin Baskin: An update on Tevin Baskin, small forward from Connecticut:

At the [Rumble in the Bronx Basketball Tournament], Baskin showed his versatile and active game hitting the glass for numerous rebounds, converting inside and putting the ball on the floor from the wing to score on drives to the hoop or pull up jumpers in the mid-range area. After playing inside much of the winter for his high school team, Baskin gets a great opportunity to show colleges his all-around game on the AAU circuit and he has notices the improvements himself. When asked what areas he felt he has improved in the most this summer, Baskin replied: "My ball-handling and my mid-range Jump shot."

As for recruiting, Baskin is in no hurry. He will play out the AAU circuit with the Gauchos.... Once the AAU events wind down, he will begin thinking more about his future for college.

"In August I’ll be working out and I plan on setting up a few visits along with narrowing down my schools," Baskin said. "I’ll decide which ones I’ll be visiting once I get back from Florida and I (will) sit down and talk with my parents, as of right now I really don’t have a stand-out (list) or favorite."...

Baskin also told that he’s considering all three New York-area schools, Rutgers, St. John’s and Seton Hall.

Oz Cross: The Daily News has a profile on former Our Savior Lutheran High School coach Oswald Cross, a 30 year old coach who is rumored to be in the running for a job at St. John's when the summer is over:

Less than a year after losing his dream job as the head coach at Our Saviour Lutheran, Cross has resurfaced as a head coach with the New York Panthers - one of the top AAU programs in the city - and several players on his 17-and-under team are suiting up for him in the summerlong Dyckman tournament.

It didn't take long for Cross to go from out-of-work to in-demand, and he may find himself on an even bigger stage in the coming months: St. John's has reportedly reached out to him to join its coaching staff.

Cross, who would most likely receive a formal offer from Norm Roberts in September, wouldn't comment on the reports because he is still coaching AAU ball, and college coaches are prohibited from working with potential recruits....

Late last summer, Cross was preparing for his fourth season on Our Saviour Lutheran's sidelines, and hoping to take his alma mater to new heights with four starters returning for the 2007-2008 school year. But the school's administration had other ideas.

Cross was told a week into classes that the school would be downgrading its hoops program, which had produced six Division I players - including St. John's sophomore Justin Burrell - and traveled to games across the country during Cross' tenure....

From Burrell to former St. Ray's standouts Kevin Parrom and Omari Lawrence, players feel a sense of loyalty to Cross - and it's a connection that could benefit St. John's, which has struggled to attract top local talent since Roberts took over the Red Storm in 2004.

The idea here is to build stronger ties to those elusive top level recruits. Coach Roberts has done okay with the simple "hard work" and "selling playing time," but that won't cut it in this league. Hard work gets you good mid major talent; and for a coach who is not adept at game coaching or teaching his offensive style quickly, talent is a must.

Recruiting: Adam Zagoria writes on the three local Big East coaches as they prepare to see potential recruits during the NCAA's evaluation period (July 22nd - July 31st).

In Vegas, there are major AAU Tournaments until July 31, and the coaches are camped out, watching the players... the Las Vegas Sun has an article on Kansas' national championship coach Bill Self, Bill Self winning national championshipwho plans to catch up with his former assistants Billy Gillispie and St. John's Norm Roberts in Vegas.

Here, he talks about what he looks for in a recruit:

"I would say what I look for is athletes - first step, second jump, ability to slide, those things - that can shoot," he said. "And then you try to fit your needs. Like there's no reason for us to try to go out and spend a lot of time recruiting a guy who we know we can't take, because we've already got two guys in that spot. Your needs also determine what you're looking for, too. That's one thing that I think is good, really, the way we play, because we play so many positions, that you could literally go three point guards at the same time, or you could literally play a point and two three-men at the same time. It doesn't make any difference to us, so I think our pool of players are bigger than just going in saying 'we need a two guard' or 'we need a good guard.'"

There's also intangibles which coaches notice. It's easier for any of the prep players in attendance to take time during warmups, timeouts or time on the bench to start glancing up into the stands. The big name coaches - i.e. Self, Roy Williams, Krzyzewski, Olsen, Izzo ... - are easily identifiable. The rest aren't very candid either. It's almost dress code that you wear your school's colors and/or logo.

That said, it's easy for a high school kid's to get lost in the see [sic] of University representation.

"You can tell who watches, you can tell who looks around," Self said. "To me, the players that I like watching the most are the ones who don't care, they just go play. 'I don't care who's here, I don't have to impress anybody, I'm just gonna go play.' And if a guy's looking in the stands thinking 'Oh, is he watching me?', and that kind of stuff, I don't like that at all. And you get that with recruiting all the time, like 'Oh, I've gotta go play well, so-and-so is coming to watch me tonight.' All you've gotta do is go be a kid and have fun. It'll all work out."

I like to follow what Bill Self is saying because St. John's offense is somewhat similar to Kansas'... except Kansas' works much better and they run it faster. Norm Roberts has been bringing in multi-positional players - the new recruits Quincy Roberts and Tyshwan Edmondson can play the 1, 2, and three. How well remains to be seen; but versatility is a premium skill.

St. John's 2010 prospect Mike Poole is in Vegas. I just like to mention him because he's from Rosedale.