CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Five for Friday: Q&A about summer camp guru Vaccaro

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I wrote a column about Sonny Vaccaro's expected return to grassroots basketball.

You read the column and asked a bunch of questions.

I'll address them in Five for Friday.

1. How will Vaccaro's expected return change grassroots basketball?

Will Sonny Vaccaro -- pictured with Carmelo Anthony -- be as effective as before? That's debatable. (Getty Images)  
Will Sonny Vaccaro -- pictured with Carmelo Anthony -- be as effective as before? That's debatable. (Getty Images)  
It won't change grassroots basketball as much as it will, as one Division I coach told me this week, "add gas to the fire." I thought that was a good way to describe the situation because it acknowledges things will intensify but doesn't pretend the fire doesn't already exist, which is what some would like to believe. Mostly, those people are the same people who forever acted like Vaccaro was the problem with summer hoops, and that July recruiting would somehow be purer if he was removed. As you know, Vaccaro removed himself three years ago. Nothing changed. Agents still funded summer teams, shoe companies still dictated where kids played, attended camp, and, in some cases, enrolled in college, and those same companies still compensated summer coaches based on their ability to lure elite prospects into a particular program.

Vaccaro exited but the world kept spinning.

That's the truth.

So while Vaccaro is undeniably the single biggest reason for the state of grassroots basketball because he's the man who created much of the current system, suggesting his presence matters much in respect to how things get done in the year 2010 is like suggesting the key to ending obesity in this country is removing McDonald's. With or without McDonald's, obesity will be an issue, probably forever; same logic applies to Vaccaro and the sketchiness on the summer scene. So don't be tricked into thinking Vaccaro's return will ruin something. At worst, he'll just make something that's already wild noticeably wilder.

2. What do you mean by wilder?

Think of it this way: The summer coach who is now getting $20,000 from Nike to assemble prospects and travel the country with them might now be in position to get $25,000 from whatever company Vaccaro aligns with, at which point Nike could be forced to offer $30,000 to keep the coach and his prospects. In other words, more money will get tossed around, and there will almost certainly be old-fashioned bidding wars for Class of 2012 standouts Andre Drummond, Dajuan Coleman and on down the line. Vaccaro will either outbid Nike or make Nike spend more money than it otherwise would. Dads, uncles and big brothers will get "consulting" deals. Kids will have more apparel than they can handle. It'll be a seller's market in every sense of the word, and the folks in control of top prospects will benefit, I assure you.

3. Isn't that illegal?

If done correctly, no. Remember, Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Li Ning and all other apparel companies aren't technically attached to any college programs (even though Nike and Adidas clearly are). So there's no NCAA rule preventing companies from "sponsoring" a summer coach who has elite prospects any more than there's an NCAA rule preventing companies from hiring somebody's dad, mom, uncle, aunt, brother, sister, cousin, neighbor or mentor as a "consultant." Happens all the time. Vaccaro's return will likely cause it to happen more often. Again, gas to the fire.

4. Will Vaccaro be as effective on the summer scene as he was before he left?

Nike has a good thing going with the LeBron James Skills Academy opening the July evaluation period for those not invited to go overseas with USA Basketball, and whether Vaccaro can counter all that is debatable. Kids like the idea of hanging with James. So on one hand, I'm skeptical. But on the other, money trumps everything, and my guess is that Vaccaro will get more than his share of prospects to whatever events he decides to produce so long as his new company arms him with serious funds.

Beating Nike's pitch of James and USA Basketball will be tough, obviously. But what if Vaccaro signs a deal with Li Ning, restarts the ABCD Camp just outside of New York City, explains to prospects that they can open the July evaluation period at the most legendary of all summer events, and then tells them that 12 of the best players from camp will take an all-expenses-paid trip to China for seven days of exhibitions before returning in time to participate in a new version of Vaccaro's iconic Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas?

Would that -- plus money and apparel -- do the trick?

I can't wait to find out.

5. So you're for this happening?

Yes, I am, because the alternative is just as sketchy but way more boring. Like I already explained, everything fans say they hate about summer basketball would be a part of summer basketball with or without Vaccaro, so I don't see the point in bemoaning his return. I imagine it'll give the NCAA an anxiety attack because its issues will multiply, but they'll be the same issues nonetheless. Me? I'm a sportswriter, meaning Vaccaro's return won't cause me headaches as much as it should provide me with additional and intriguing storylines.

So, yes, I'm absolutely for this happening.

This past July was boring.

Next July should be anything but.


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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