Posted on: July 22, 2011 5:11 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 7:05 pm
Jeff Borzello is taking all day Friday to tag along with Syracuse assisant Mike Hopkins. He'll be checking in every couple of hours with updates, anecdotes and tidbits from the recruiting trail. Check here for a timeline of the posts.
By Jeff Borzello
LAS VEGAS -- More than half of the recruiting that goes on during the month of July is, for the most part, babysitting.
Coaches go to games of their prospective recruits, and they simply sit there in order to make sure their target knows that they're there and watching.
In some cases, though, evaluation does occur. Assistant coaches need to verify things they have heard about, or give a second opinion on what another coach has seen. For Mike Hopkins, it's all about figuring out how the kid fits into Syracuse's system.
"At Syracuse, we've always had great forwards," Hopkins said, rattling off Carmelo Anthony, John Wallace, Billy Owens, Derrick Coleman and others. "We have to find people that fit what we do."
Some of the targets on this day happened to be top-25 prospects, but the ranking isn't the most important factor when evaluating.
Hopkins said doing that leads to teams with players that don't mesh well.
"It's bad business when you take guys only because they're rated high," he said. "Some coaches say, 'Oh I heard he's good, why aren't we recruiting him?' They want to go on the golf course and talk about who they got. That's how you win the press conference, not games."
Hopkins said it ultimately doesn't matter if a kid is rated No. 50, No. 100 or not ranked at all. When watching a player for the first time, the hype goes out the window.
Coaches simply look for a kid who will help the program and fit a role.
"It's about having a great team," Hopkins said.
Posted on: July 22, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 2:28 pm
By Jeff Borzello
LAS VEGAS -- Right before I went to sleep at 2 a.m. on Thursday night, I received a call from Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins.
Hopkins had just landed in Vegas and was still waiting for his rental car. He said he was going to get back to the hotel and check his schedule to figure out what time to meet up Friday morning.
Now, considering Hopkins was still on Eastern time and would not get to his hotel until at least 2:30 a.m., I didn't expect to meet until at least 9 a.m. Color me surprised when I received a text in the wee hours: "Leaving hotel at 7:15."
Three hours of sleep, travel nightmares, driving around all day to remote gyms.
The life of an assistant coach on the road.
Similar to the way Gary Parrish followed Tom Izzo and Jeff Goodman trailed Ryan Marks, I will be riding shotgun with Hopkins all of Friday to see what life is like as a high-major assistant coach.
Keep checking back here for stories from the road, what it's like to be the head coach-in-waiting and more of Hopkins' perspectives on the life of an assistant coach.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 10:24 am
Edited on: July 21, 2011 10:47 am
Some people compare Jabari Parker to Paul Pierce because of his versatile offensive game.
Parker, though, is aiming a little bit higher for his NBA comparison. As in, the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for a single season: Oscar Robertson.
“He played all positions,” Parker said. “He was way before his time.”
If Parker was anything less than the best prospect in the high-school game, regardless of class, that comparison might seem completely ridiculous. But given the way the 6-foot-8 Simeon (Ill.) junior has redefined his body and his game over the past year, he has future NBA All-Star written all over him.
Parker is an outstanding offensive player with the ability to knock down mid-range jumpers with ease, get to the basket and finish or post up around the rim. He can handle the ball effectively and is an excellent passer for his position.
“A lot of people say I have an old school game,” Parker said. “My body, I’m slimmed down, I can move much better.”
Nowadays, the players near the top of the rankings are outstanding athletes with explosiveness to spare. Parker is more contained, relying on a wide range of skills to be productive.
Going against the high-flyers of the 2012 and 2013 classes doesn’t faze Parker, though.
“It prepares me for college,” he said. “Some players might be more athletic than me, so I have to work harder.”
The son of former NBA player Sonny Parker will be the subject of one of the most hotly contested recruiting battles in the country, but for now he has a top five: Kansas, Washington, Duke, Illinois and Michigan State.
What endears the Jayhawks to Parker is their success.
“I’m looking to win, and they always go to the tournament,” he said.
The relationship between Washington coach Lorenzo Romar and the Parker family has the Huskies squarely in the mix.
“It started way before I played basketball; my dad played with Lorenzo,” he said.
Moreover, Parker said his brother might get a job on the staff at Washington -- but that wouldn’t affect his choice. “Not really,” Parker said. “He said it’s my decision.”
For the other three schools, Parker said the main thing that sticks out is the coaching.
Duke: “I like Coach K -- he’s a very good guy.”
Illinois: “I like Bruce [Weber] and Jerrence [Howard]. They’re good people.”
Michigan State: “Tom Izzo is one of the top coaches ever.”
While Parker has had the same top five since the spring, he said he is not limiting his recruitment to that quintet. Ohio State, Florida and BYU are among the other schools looking to break through into his favorites.
“Other schools can get on the list,” Parker said. “It’s just all the websites asked about my top five.”
As the top-rated player in his class, Parker has the luxury of going through his recruitment at his own pace. He could get it over with soon, or he could wait it out.
Considering how unselfish his game on the court is, it should come as no surprise that one of his reasons for waiting doesn’t revolve around him.
“I want my teammates to get looked at,” Parker said. “I’m going to take my time, not rush the process.”
Oscar Robertson would be proud.
Posted on: July 20, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 5:33 pm
Shaq Goodwin makes no secret of his desire to play both football and basketball at the next level.
“I want to play both sports,” Goodwin said. “Football then basketball. I want to play both of them.”
There are obvious concerns to playing both sports at such a high level in college, but the 6-foot-8, 230-lb. forward/tight end isn’t worried. The major one, aside from simply being overworked and tired, is the amount of time he will miss should his football team make a prominent bowl game.
For example, the national championship game in football next season is on January 9, meaning there is a chance Goodwin might not be able to join his teammates on the hardwood until conference play is already underway.
His response? “Then I’ll be a national champion,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin is ranked higher in basketball – No. 13 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100 – than football, but he is set on being a dual-sport athlete. On the basketball court, Goodwin’s athleticism and toughness are noticeable immediately. He is not averse to drawing contact in the paint, and gets to the free-throw line as well as anyone in the country. Goodwin runs the floor well and has great vision and hands.
He usually plays with the Atlanta Celtics, but he ran with YOMCA Memphis on the EYBL circuit. Being a figurative outsider forced Goodwin to adjust his game slightly.
“I played good defense, not really looking to score,” he said. “Jarnell [Stokes] is the man on this team. I have no problem; I didn’t come to this team to be the man. It’s different.”
Based on his natural abilities, it’s no surprise that he is also a coveted recruit on the gridiron. If a school doesn’t offer him in both sports, he said, there is little chance they would land a commitment from him.
“I would look at them, but they wouldn’t be in my top five,” Goodwin said.
That vaunted quintet currently includes Memphis, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and UCLA.
The Bruins are the most interesting team on that list, given that Korey McCray, Goodwin’s former AAU coach, recently became an assistant coach in Westwood. Jordan Adams, Goodwin’s Atlanta Celtics teammate, also committed there in late June. He was supposed to visit UCLA in late June, but it never happened.
Goodwin said UCLA doesn’t stand out any more than the rest of the schools do, though.
“It’s good that I know two people going there, but that’s it,” he said.
Goodwin’s recruitment will be interesting to follow. There is not only a tug of war between different schools – different sports will be pulling him in opposite directions, too.
Photo: Five-Star Basketball
Posted on: July 20, 2011 3:24 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 6:33 pm
As a five-star recruit with several of the top schools in the country on his tail, Jarnell Stokes knows he’s being watched on the AAU circuit.
The 6-foot-8 power forward from Memphis uses it as extra impetus to play his hardest every time out.
“First of all, you get a target on your back,” Stokes said. “People know who you are, so you have to bring it.”
Stokes, who will play at Oak Hill Academy (Va.) next season, was simply a dominant inside player for most of the past few years.
This spring and summer, though, he expanded his skill set and added a solid face-up game to his repertoire.
“I’m playing more outside, working on my versatility,” Stokes said.
It’s been working out well so far for Stokes, who ranked near the top of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League in both points and rebounds, averaging 19.3 points and 8.4 rebounds through 14 games. He also topped the Peach Jam in rebounding, grabbing 9.7 per game in South Carolina last week.
Stokes’ ability to outmuscle smaller defenders and get past slower opponents enables him to get to the free-throw line at an extremely good rate and score efficiently in the post, too.
“Most defenders can’t guard inside and out,” he said. “I’m trying to play my best, bring effort to the floor. But there’s a lot more to improve on.”
Stokes ranks No. 16 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100, and he has plenty of schools on his trial. Recently, though, he named his top six schools: Connecticut, Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida, Memphis and Tennessee.
Out of that group, Arkansas and Memphis are standing out.
“I have a great relationship with the people there,” Stokes said.
Stokes had said in the past that he would likely have committed to Tennessee prior to Bruce Pearl and the Volunteers parting ways, but he is not ready to make a decision just yet.
“I’m looking at style of play,” Stokes said when asked about the factors in his final decision. “And I want to go to a winning program.”
Sounds like Stokes is looking forward to having a target on his back at the next level too.
Photo: Point Guard U