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yoco :: College Basketball
(a sports weblog) news and commentary on men's college basketball and the ncaa tournament

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Friday, December 03, 2004

"a web of intrigue for recruiters"

What next, recruiting blogs? Below are (long) excerpts from three interesting articles about the use of Internet scouting websites.

Siena men's basketball coach Rob Lanier said he uses the Internet to stay current on the latest news on the recruiting wars.

"It's almost the sports section for a college basketball coach," Lanier said. "It's the equivalent of reading the newspaper and staying informed from a recruiting standpoint. In a lot of cases, we're trying to find out if kids are being consistent in what they're saying to us. If a kid tells us we're at the top of his list, and then we read an Internet interview where he doesn't mention our team, then there's an inconsistency there."

[Will] Brown, the [University of] Albany basketball coach, said his program spends about $3,000 of its annual recruiting budget on various services -- not an unusual expenditure, based on an informal poll of college coaches...

"We've tried a newsletter, but people didn't want it," said Mike Sullivan, editor of rivalshoops.com. "They want their information as fast as they can get it. But there's competition and sometimes mistakes are made. That's the way things change in recruiting. A kid can tell a reporter one day he's leaning toward Syracuse and the next day say he likes Ohio State."

In either form, the services provide valuable information, especially in the wake of recent NCAA legislation that greatly reduces the numbers of days that coaches can go on the road to watch prospects.

"(Recruiting services) are going to cover events that are during periods that (coaches) can't go," Boston University men's basketball coach Dennis Wolff said. "Most of these guys are nice guys and you can call them and ask them their opinion (on a player)."

"If any coach tells you they never get a lead from a scouting service, they're lying." Brown said.

Arizona's coaching staff isn't shy. They'll admit to using Internet sites.

Arizona is always on the hunt for underclassmen. The school, like most major colleges, subscribes to several scouting services. They cross check [them] with the big boys, such as Bob Gibbons, Clark Francis, Dave Telep and Van Coleman.

"We keep track of everything, not only the high majors but the sleepers," UA assistant coach Josh Pastner said. "We utilize as much as possible. Usually, guys involved are good judges and do it the right way."

But Gibbons, who has been evaluating talent since 1977 and lives in Durham, N.C., feels the proliferation of Internet analysts are giving his business a "black mark."

"The worst thing right now is you got guys who coach teams during the summer who sort of intimidate," said Gibbons, who figures he sees 300 to 400 games a year. "The college coaches feel pressured. If you want to recruit their kids, you'd better subscribe to their services. It's a total rip-off. Who do they see but their own players? They'll rank them more favorably. There is no objectivity."

Critics say Gibbons, who runs All-Star Scouting Service, is threatened because his turf is getting smaller.

"To me, all those sites popping up, they're all jockeying for some position of power and leverage with college coaches and they're being provided special access," Brown said.

"If the NCAA continues to clamp down on recruiting, coaches are going to turn to guys who do these Web sites."

Are you be interested in turning to these web sites as well? If you're thinking about quitting your day job, read about the high life (?) here.

The question remains the same, and Jeremy Crabtree has considered it often over the past five years.

But at some point, what it represented to Crabtree flipped around completely. The question once meant to prevent him from a life of Web site reports about high school football players now reinforces Crabtree's life-changing decision to leave mainstream journalism.

He remembers in every detail one of his editors at the Kansas City Star trying to sway him from leaving his job covering high school sports to join a recruiting Web site.

"Finally, he asked me, `Do you like vanilla ice cream?'" Crabtree said. "He was really serious. He goes, `That's all you're ever going to get: vanilla ice cream. Why would you want to do that?' "

And, to be honest, Crabtree had to consider it. There was a chance he would find devoting his life to gathering the thoughts and decisions of teenage boys was a bland, non-descript existence.

But that's just never happened.