Just to put it out there: it’s not just Duke and Alex Poythress.
Since CBSSports.com’s story about Poythress adding an offer from Duke after the AAU Super Showcase, a media storm has descended on Mike Kryzewski, Poythress and the Blue Devils.
The reason: Poythress spoke with Coach K during the July live period – a possible violation of an NCAA rule that states coaches and players cannot have contact while a player is with his AAU team at an event. Duke and the NCAA are both investigating the matter, which could result in a light punishment for the Duke coaches.
As my colleague Gary Parrish wrote in his Monday column, it’s not a big deal and the rule is silly.
For a follow-up to the story, CBSSports.com contacted nearly a dozen top-100 recruits to gauge how often “illegal contact” occurs during the July live period. All spoke off the record.
Four were adamant that they had zero contact with colleges during the evaluation period, and one left the door slightly open.
“I didn’t get any calls, that I know of,” he said. “I probably did and they left a voicemail. I’m not really sure.”
Another didn’t receive any calls or texts, but did make phone calls on three separate occasions to schools after his AAU coach told him they had reached out.
“I honestly didn’t know [it was a violation],” he said. “I thought you’re allowed to call them.”
One prospect received similar requests from colleges to call a coach, but he refused after seeing the Poythress story.
“I knew it was a violation and wasn’t going to take a chance the way this situation went down,” he said.
Coaches are finding creative ways to get around the no-contact rule, although these strategies might be illegal, as well.
“Some college players would text me and tell me so and so is coming to the game,” one prospect said.
Another prospect said a coach “accidentally” texted him. While that might be true, it could also be another trick in the battle between coaches and the NCAA rulebook.
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It’s almost amusing to watch coaches go the extra mile to avoid making blatant contact with prospective recruits. In the Orlando airport last week, I saw a head coach and one his committed players standing on opposite sides of the baggage claim. Each clearly knew the other one was there; they just didn’t acknowledge it.
Not everyone has adhered more closely to the rules in the wake of the incident. One recent commitment came as a result of a coach calling the grandfather of a high school prospect while the player was at a July AAU tournament.
For the most part, though, the Duke-Poythress story put everyone on an even higher alert.
“Everybody was really acting scared,” one prospect said.
When it comes down to it, most of the recruits hold the same opinion as the rest of the people in basketball.
Said one player: “I really don’t think it’s a big deal that they offered him during a tourney. But that’s just me.”