Monday, July 27, 2009

The Super 64 AAU Tournament was played out in Las Vegas last week, which attracted all of the big time college basketball coaches, as well as many of the big name college hoops writers.

Joe Jackson, a top 15 recruit in the class of '10, led the Memphis Magic to the title on Sunday. But that was far from the biggest news story coming out of the Sin City.

In case you missed it last week, Josh Selby, another top 15 point guard in the class of '10, decommitted from Tennessee while Bruce Pearl was coaching the US in the Maccabiah Games. There is a bit more of a back story here. Selby decommitted after the LeBron Skills Acadamy, where his mom reportedly spoke with William Wesley aka "Worldwide Wes". For those that don't know who he is, Wesley is a basketball power broker with strong ties to Nike and, among other, John Calipari.

Kentucky is a Nike school. Tennessee is Adidas.

Now, this does not necessarily mean that Selby is a lock to replace John Wall next year. If you were to take a look into the stands at anyone of Selby's games in Vegas, you would get a glimpse of a who's-who of the coaching fraternity - Gary Williams, Jim Calhoun, Josh Pastner, John Calipari. Word travels fast through the coaching ranks when it is assumed a kid is destined for a certain school (coaches have stopped recruiting Jackson because it is widely felt he is not leaving Memphis), so the fact that they are still involved means the coaches believe they have a shot at landing him.

That isn't to say, however, that any rumor involving the Wildcats and Coach Cal is unsubstantiated. Take a look at this quote from Selby's mom:

Anybody with a basketball brain and knows what John Calipari has done - you have to consider Kentucky. It doesn't mean its a done deal, but you have to consider Kentucky.
Dana O'Neil wrote a column on ESPN taking a look at players who back out of commitments to schools. Personally, I don't have much of a problem with a recruit backing out of a verbal commitment - it isn't binding, basically all the kid has done is say he wants to play for that specific school. Now I can't speak for anyone else, but I am 24 years old and still have trouble settling on a team to be in Madden or Fifa.

You expect a 16 or 17 year old kid to decide where he wants to spend the next 1-4 years of his life? With so much riding on their decision, should you not expect the kid to waver?

And do I even need to mention that coaches have no problem taking commitments from players only to bounce to a higher-paying job?

The real trouble arises the players decision is influenced by an outside source based on something other than basketball or academics. Now, I don't want to make any assumptions as to why Selby is backing out on his commitment. It is just as likely that Selby was concerned about only seeing two schools (which is what he and his mother have been saying all along) as it is that Wesley has influenced the decision (Selby's mother has said that her only conversation with Wesley was receiving a recommendation that he work with a track coach to prevent leg injuries, but an Andy Katz source said that his mother is the one that approached Wesley).

Hopefully, it is not the latter, and Selby truly was just concerned with his decision. But knowing how college basketball recruiting works, it would not surprise me if Wesley had a hand in this decision.

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