Senior Writer

In a players game, hiring a dad to land star recruit is a smart move


Hiring a father to get a kid will not bring the NCAA to campus.

So I don't consider it cheating.

I consider it wise.

Like Texas Tech and Texas A&M, LSU's Trent Johnson is trying to lure John Reese and son, J-Mychal in a package deal. (Getty Images)  
Like Texas Tech and Texas A&M, LSU's Trent Johnson is trying to lure John Reese and son, J-Mychal in a package deal. (Getty Images)  
Which is why I won't criticize Billy Gillispie (Texas Tech), Billy Kennedy (Texas A&M) or Trent Johnson (LSU) for offering jobs to John Reese in hopes of landing his son, Class of 2012 standout J-Mychal Reese. Rather, I'm going to commend them all because it shows that those three men, if nothing else, understand they are paid lots of money to win basketball games, and it shows they're willing to do what it takes to try to win them.

College basketball is a players game.

Don't ever forget that.

The men who last at the high-major level are, for the most part, the men who consistently recruit the best prospects to campus, which is why schools build glamorous practice facilities with extravagant player lounges filled with personalized lockers, pool tables, 60-inch flat screens and a PS3. The pursuit of players is why coaches schedule certain games, plan certain offseason trips and bow to certain television demands. Coaches often go so far as to cease recruiting one kid to prove to another kid how important he is. I even know one coach who once got a vehicle with a certain kind of rims because he knew the prospect he was recruiting loved a certain kind of rims, and, yes, it all culminated with a signed letter of intent from said prospect.

In other words, coaches will do anything -- even get stupid rims -- to land a player.

And the line is supposed to be drawn at package deals?


That's a stupid opinion for two reasons:

1. Package deals are easy to get away with.

2. Package deals work.

Do you think Larry Brown regrets hiring Ed Manning to get Danny Manning? (He won a national title because of it.) Do you think Bill Self regrets hiring Ronnie Chalmers to get Mario Chalmers? (He won a national title because of it.) Do you think John Calipari regrets hiring Milt Wagner and signing Arthur Barclay to get Dajuan Wagner? (That development legitimized Calipari in the urban community and helped turn him into the recruiter he is today.)

Again, package deals work.

And they're basically legal.

So I'd do one for those reasons.

But I'd also do one for this reason: Who else are you going to hire?

Fact: I have been bombarded by coaches for lists of assistants worth hiring this offseason more so than any other offseason that I've been doing this job. I've been asked for lists of white assistants and black assistants, lists of young assistants and experienced assistants, lists of assistants who are probably unhireable and lists of assistants who could likely be hired tomorrow. I don't tell you this to make myself sound important as much as I do to tell you that there are many Division I coaches who have no idea how to complete their staffs. The current crop of assistants are either making too much money to be lured from their current positions or they're simply unattractive candidates for a variety of reasons. The result is an environment where the demand seems to outweigh the supply, and I don't know many coaches who wouldn't consider filling a third assistant's spot with a guy who could bring a heralded prospect and nothing more.

John Reese is that guy.

He's a high school coach in Texas with a son who plays the point.

The kid isn't John Wall, but he's good.

More to the point, he's worth it.

So I'll let the out-of-touch/still-don't-get it peanut gallery criticize the coaches who are reportedly interested in hiring the elder Reese in hopes that the younger Reese will follow suit. Granted, it's probably not how the NCAA envisioned recruiting would be when it created this crazy system years and years ago. But it's a wise and possibly necessary route to success in this era of college basketball, and that's why I'd take it without hesitation and continue signing million-dollar extensions for as long as I possibly could.

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for and college basketball insider for the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts an award-winning radio show in Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two sons and two dogs.

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