Blog Entry

2011 Recruiting Trip: welcome to the Jukes

Posted on: July 8, 2011 8:04 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 11:33 am
 
By Jeff Goodman

ST. CHARLES, Mo. – I’m sitting at Brad Soderberg’s desk as I write this.

Yes, the same Brad Soderberg, the former Saint Louis head coach -- who is now the head coach at Division 2 Lindenwood, which also happens to be the site of Jerry Mullins’ Junior College Showcase.

I’ve now run the gamut of events in the three days that I’ve been with UT-Pan American coach Ryan Marks.

We started in Indianapolis for an Adidas event that had something for just about everyone -- the high-majors, the mids and the lows.

Then it was to Milwaukee Thursday for an AAU team event primarily suited for the mids and lows.

Now it's Friday, and today I witnessed something new -- a JUCO event.

There must be nearly 300 or so college coaches jammed in the bleachers in the gym at Lindenwood to watch about nine hours of primarily low-major junior college kids, most of whom paid their own way to attend this showcase.

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First things first. This event is exceptionally well run.

"Nobody runs them any better," Marks said.

It actually reminded me a little bit of Sonny Vaccaro’s ABCD Camp.

Just without the talent.

There were plenty of last-chance kids in attendance, guys who have concluded their two years of junior college ball and are waiting and hoping for someone to take a chance on them at the D-1 level.

New Lamar coach Pat Knight is here. Quinnipiac head man Tom Moore is also in the building. So, too, is UT-Arlington’s Scott Cross, Austin Peay’s Dave Loos, UIC’s Howard Moore and a bunch of other head coaches.

And this place is inundated with assistants.

"It's difficult to evaluate unless you've seen the kid a bunch before," Marks said. "That way you have some context to what you are watching."

But Marks sits in one chair in the bleachers -- one in which he can view all three courts at the same time -- and continues to scan in hopes of finding a kid that can help him get UT-Pan American a few more victories.

"It's hit or miss at an event like this," Marks said. "You never know."

I still haven’t seen a single post move, and I’ve been watching since the event tipped off at 2 p.m. There's not much ball movement, just a bunch of athletes that, to be honest, look similar.

It's not pretty basketball, but it's fitting since it's a spot where many of the "grinders" have come. Nearly every coach in this building makes less than $100,000 -- many in the $30,000 or $40,000 range -- and hopes to move up the coaching ladder.

And the kids are just looking for a chance.
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