By Gary Parrish
High school basketball players listen to hip-hop.
I realize that's a blanket statement that isn't 100 percent true.
But it's mostly true ... and precisely why Josh Pastner booked Rick Ross for Memphis Madness.
"The benefit is that it gives you a little street cred," Pastner told CBSSports.com on Friday moments after announcing the rap superstar will perform at Memphis Madness on Oct. 14. "The kids love it. It's a great recruiting tool."
Pastner, of course, is not the first coach to recognize this. Jay Wright once had 50 Cent at Villanova's Madness. Drake has been to Kentucky's. Wale was at Georgetown's last year, and Memphis had Yo Gotti each of the past two years. But for Memphis to get someone of Ross' stature at a time while Ross is hugely relevant in the hip-hop scene represents Pastner taking the event to another level.
Memphis Madness has soldout more than 18,000 seats each of the past two years.
A third straight sellout is now practically guaranteed.
"It's all about recruiting," Pastner said. "A young kid, even a freshman or sophomore, might come to see a practice, then see 19,000 people and Rick Ross. Those things stay in your mind. You say, 'I want to be on that floor someday. I want to play for the Tigers someday.'"
There are unintended consequences of doing something like this, too.
One is that Memphis is only allowed to host 12 prospects on official visits this year.
That means Pastner must be careful about who he hosts and who he doesn't host for Memphis Madness.
"I think some kids now want to come on an official visit for Memphis Madness even though they don't really want to come to Memphis at all," Pastner said. "Kids want to be there, absolutely."