Editor's note: Every week in "Starting 5," we'll roll out five stories, themes and nuggets from the basketball recruiting world to set the table with the stories that need to be told and give you a leg up on the watercooler conversations around the office.
This week we look at the positives and negatives of programs offering multiple elite recruits early, recap Team USA U16's FIBA conquest and U19's major additions, explain how late-bloomers may have an edge on stars, break down the risers from last weekend's NBPA Top 100 Camp and the increasing difficulty in pinpointing college teams' needs.
1. Scholarships: A two-way street
Recruiting is easily one of the trickiest businesses and has become more treacherous thanks to Al Gore's Internet and Twitter. Two weeks ago, one college coach told me he'd spent a day smoothing over a situation with a recruit. Apparently, the young man was disappointed that one of the teams recruiting him had offered another player a scholarship. Not taken a commitment from another kid, but offered another player a scholarship and didn't inform the player. That's ridiculousness, folks. The player needs to get over that.
I'd be the first one to stand up and rail against programs offering so many scholarships so early. To me, offering massive amounts of scholarships dilutes your product. It's no way to build a brand long term. The kids know who the culprits are and which teams will help them build a collection of scholarships. I believe that the relationship trumps the offer. Programs that chum the waters with scholarships most of the time wind up with inferior players. I get it, everybody wants to be the in the position of offering fewer scholarships and teams are working toward becoming more powerful in recruiting. Those schools will tell you they are simply doing what's necessary to get recruits' attention. I'd respectfully disagree and advise them to focus more on building the foundation of their program and increasing the value of their offers, but that's for another day.
The reason we're tackling this topic is because of a recent Twitter exchange with ESPN 100 forward Stanley Johnson. Johnson's one of the guys most respected by his peers, and to me, a mature young man as well as an outstanding player.