College Basketball Insider

Alex Robinson committed to A&M while ignoring negative recruiting

Alex Robinson has been a desirable prospect for several years and a priority for Texas A&M since at least the summer of 2012. Other coaches knew this, of course, because coaches know everything. And though most in the profession frown upon negative recruiting -- and almost all would tell you that they'd never use the fact that Texas A&M's Billy Kennedy is battling Parkinson's disease against him -- the truth is that that's not true.

Coaches absolutely use it against Kennedy.

Alex Robinson told me as much on Tuesday afternoon.

"They actually did [use Kennedy's Parkinson's diagnosis against Texas A&M]," Robinson said by phone a few minutes after the top-50 prospect committed to Texas A&M just 48 hours following a weekend visit. "But I just kinda brushed it off like, 'Hey, that's part of recruiting. [The other coaches are just] trying to get me to their school.'"

No doubt, that's all the other coaches were trying to do.

But isn't that deplorable and shameful?

Isn't that just the worst?

Parkinson's disease is a chronic, degenerative neurological disorder for which there is no cure and no known exact cause. You don't get it from smoking too much or drinking too much or lying in the sun too much. Basically, if you get it, you are simply unlucky -- especially if you're diagnosed with it at the young age of 47, which is how old Kennedy was when his diagnosis came in October 2011. It was a shocking development for a man who had just been hired away from Murray State five months earlier.

Can you imagine?

You have a wife, four children and a very public and competitive job. And now you have to try to figure out a way to live some semblance of a normal life despite the harsh reality that your life will never be normal again. At worst, the disease will progress rapidly. At best, you're forced to come to grips with the idea that the disease will progress at some point, at which point, well, you know how it goes.

You've seen Michael J. Fox.

You've seen Muhammad Ali.

Those two men are very famous examples of what Parkinson's will almost certainly do to you eventually, and nobody understands this better than Billy Kennedy. So a Parkinson's diagnosis doesn't just mess with you from a physical standpoint. It can wreck you mentally, too. And this is what Kennedy has been dealing with for almost two years now.

Meantime, rival coaches have been killing Kennedy on the recruiting trail.

I know this because I've heard about it from several sources.

And Robinson confirmed everything I'd heard on Tuesday.

"I don't want to get into that," Robinson answered when I asked for the names of specific schools and/or coaches who had tried to use Kennedy's diagnosis against him, and I respect him for taking the high road. Robinson isn't interested in making anybody look bad. But, again, Robinson did acknowledge that rival coaches talked to him about Kennedy having Parkinson's disease, and that just seems like something that professionals and so-called leaders of young men should be above.

Either way, the good news is that Robinson ignored it all.

FoxSports.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels told me Tuesday that Robinson has been one of his favorite prospects to cover, then described the 6-foot-1 point guard as a "smart kid" and "different breed." I was glad to hear that because it confirmed everything I concluded from my conversation with Robinson. He came off like a sharp guy. So it's no surprise that he didn't cave to the negative recruiting and instead decided to become the first top-100 prospect to commit to Texas A&M since Kennedy publicly announced that he's been diagnosed with Parkinson's.

"If you talk to Coach Kennedy you can't even really tell that he has Parkinson's disease," Robinson said. "And I'm not going to let something like that [affect my college decision] ... because I know, in my heart, that he's going to be there and that he's going to be fine."

God knows that's what we're all hoping -- that Billy Kennedy is fine for a long time.

Now it'd be great if other coaches would stop suggesting otherwise.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
 
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