Breaking news: College recruiting is still shady
Posted on: July 7, 2009 6:30 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2009 6:37 pm
AKRON, Ohio -- You might think the slew of negative attention that USC and Memphis have endured in recent months would scare college basketball recruiting straight, at least to some degree. But if you think that, you are stupid. And I offer DaJuan Coleman as Exhibit 1A.
Coleman is a star of the Class of 2012.
That means he just finished his freshman year of high school.
He's one of only three Class of 2012 prospects invited to the LeBron James Skills Academy, and on Tuesday he casually spoke about the dangers of being an elite prospect identified this early. "People have offered me stuff, but I don't take it," Coleman told CBSSports.com. "I know what's good."
If you didn't catch that, what we have is a rising sophomore already being "offered stuff."
And really, that's the problem.
As long as elite prospects can be identified at an early age, there are going to be people offering stuff to those same elite prospects. The O.J. Mayo case will not make it stop. People -- like runners or agents or, in some cases, actual college coaches -- will offer stuff to prospects, to the families of prospects, and to anybody else they think might be close enough to the prospects to have some sort of influence. In most cases, eventually, somebody will take something because, really, how could they not? And then two or three years later, millions will pretend these same elite prospects are "amateur" athletes while willfully (and stupidly) buying into the myth that there is such a thing at the highest levels of this sport.
And what it highlights is a system flawed to its core, a system that on one end requires agents and runners and coaches to secure elite prospects to get wealthy, and on the other end asks those same elite prospects to never take a free meal, much less a cell phone, car or cash. It's unnatural and impossible to make work. Which is why I always shrug my shoulders when people ask what the NCAA must do to eliminate cheating in college basketball? The truth is that folks won't cease breaking rules until the rules are eliminated, because the alternative is to eliminate the money being made and the money at stake, and, as you know, that's not going anywhere.