Tag:2011 recruiting trip
Posted on: July 7, 2011 2:41 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 8:16 pm

2011 Recruiting Trip: Marking Day 2 in Milwaukee

By Jeff Goodman

MILWAUKEE – It wasn’t necessary for Ryan Marks to knock on my door at 5:15 a.m. this morning. I was already awake and rearing to go.

You see, I’ve grinded it out before – back in the day as a recruiting guy.

This was going to be a breeze for me.

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I took a quick shower after four hours of sleep on the pull-out couch in his mother’s downtown Chicago condo – and then walked out to the kitchen.

His mother had prepared a buffet breakfast – fruit, cereal, bagels, etc.

Eat your heart out, Parrish.

This was clearly an upgrade for whatever Parrish threw into his gullet this morning.

Then we got in Marks’ mother’s 2002 Lexus and headed to Milwaukee, where we walked into the gym at the NY2LA Sports event around 8 a.m.

It was then that Marks realized they had switched the schedule – and the player we had rushed to see for an 8:15 a.m. game was actually playing an hour later.

There were literally a handful of coaches in attendance when we got there – and Marks and Drake’s Mark Phelps were the only D-1 head men in the building.

The building slowly began to fill up with coaches – nearly all of them of the low-major, mid-major and even of the Division 2 and Division 3 variety.

There were even a few more head coaches that showed – Mike Young (Wofford), Brian Wardle (Green Bay), Rob Jeter (Milwaukee), Tim Jankovich (Illinois State) and Kerry Keating (Santa Clara).

But there wasn’t a high-major head coach in sight – and few high-major prospects.

Most of those guys are where I just left – in Indianapolis – and also where Parrish has stationed himself today and tomorrow for the prestigious LeBron James Camp.

Marks met his assistant, Nick Bennett (Tony Bennett’s cousin) and watched a bunch of games this morning involving Midwest teams.

This is basketball at its purest form, including many teams that actually share and move the basketball.

It’s about 1:30 local time and I just downed a plate of pasta in the hospitality room, but Marks still hasn’t gone for lunch.

He remains in the bleachers – where I’m heading back now to watch more guys trying to earn a scholarship.

For more of our college basketball recruiting road trip, click here.
Posted on: July 7, 2011 11:17 am
Edited on: July 7, 2011 11:53 am

2011 recruiting trip: 7th-graders are too old

By Gary Parrish

AKRON, Ohio -- So Tom Izzo and I were sitting in the lobby of what might be the nicest middle school in the world last night waiting for a game to tip. We were all alone. Nobody else was anywhere around ... until this kid walked straight up to us, put his hand out and said, "Hey Tom."

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I assumed they knew each other because the kid was so confident and comfortable.

He just said "Hey Tom" same way I might say "Hey Tom."

But they didn't know each other at all.

The kid was just super-cool.

So Izzo shook his hand and asked where he was from. "Michigan," the kid said before explaining how he was about to be playing in a game on some auxiliary court, at which point Izzo asked the question every Division I coach is required to ask.

"What grade are you in?"

"I just finished 7th-grade," the kid said.

"Well, you've gotten too old," Izzo replied. "I'm not even allowed to talk to you."

Let the record show that neither Izzo nor I know whether this kid can play a lick. No idea. But it doesn't matter because the NCAA considers all 7th-graders "prospects" for the purposes of men's basketball. So Izzo, by rule, can't talk to him, which is why the Michigan State coach had to terminate the conversation immediately even though the "prospect" was almost certainly just a kid from Michigan who's grown up watching Izzo's Spartans and wanted to meet the coach when he saw an opportunity to do so.

"That kid was great, but I'm not allowed to talk to him," Izzo said. "Now he probably thinks I'm an a--hole."

For more of our college basketball recruiting road trip, click here.
Posted on: July 7, 2011 6:45 am
Edited on: February 16, 2012 11:45 am

2011 recruiting trip: Z-Bo and private planes

By Gary Parrish

AKRON, Ohio -- And the star of the night session at the Adidas Invitational was ... Z-Bo, of course.

"Mr. Randolph, I am from Canada and I don't get to be around people like you often," said a high school prospect who approached Zach Randolph at a gym late Wednesday. "Can I take a picture with you?"

"Sure," Randolph answered.

And what followed was a stream of high school prospects anxious to meet the Memphis Grizzlies star who had stopped by a high school in suburban Indianapolis -- which is near Randolph's offseason home -- to visit with his college coach, Michigan State's Tom Izzo. I can't promise you the prospects on the floor noticed Randolph's presence, but I can tell you everybody else in the buidling did, and Randolph would've been overwhelmed for hours if tournament officials hadn't stepped in and demanded the autograph seekers get out of the "coaches area" of the gym. Either way, it was a neat reunion between player and coach -- one of the highlights of my first full day on the road with Izzo as this July evaluation period continues.

If you're keeping track, I think Izzo and I watched nine games in seven gyms on Wednesday. We met in the lobby of our Indianapolis hotel at 7:30 a.m. Our first game was at 8:15 a.m. Our final game ended around 10:15 p.m. We boarded a private plane around 10:50 p.m. We landed here in Akron a little before midnight. We checked into this downtown hotel around 12:30 a.m.

So that's a 17-hour day, and it was draining. But the truth is that Izzo and I were the lucky ones beacause we had access to a private plane that at least allowed us to get from the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis to the LeBron James Skills Academy in Akron late last night. Most coaches making the same trip were also in a gym until around 10:15. They couldn't have gotten back into their rooms until around 11, couldn't have fallen asleep until around midnight. And yet they still had wakeup calls for around 3:45 a.m. because the only commercial flight leaving Indianapolis that could get coaches to Akron by the start of today's workouts was scheduled to leave at 5:24 a.m.

That's the flight Illinois coach Bruce Weber was supposed to be on this morning, by the way. But don't ever say Big Ten coaches don't take care of each other, because Izzo invited Weber to fly privately with us rather than put himself through that ridiculousness. That both men were on the redeye from Las Vegas to Orlando with Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser the day before Prosser died four years in the middle of a grueling schedule probably should be noted.

"Thanks for letting me go with you," Weber said as we touched down in Akron.

"No problem," Izzo said. "No problem."

For more of our college basketball recruiting road trip, click here.
Posted on: July 7, 2011 1:48 am
Edited on: July 7, 2011 10:49 am

2011 recruiting trip: Marking off day one

By Jeff Goodman

CHICAGO – When Ryan Marks turned the key to his mother’s 2002 Lexus in the North Central High parking lot at around 8 a.m. and the only sound was that of a click, someone should have taken a picture of the cringe that appeared on my mug.


This was going to be a long three days.

The last time I saw Gary Parrish and Tom Izzo was around 8:45 a.m., at halftime of the first game of the adidas tournament in Cincinnati.

Then Marks, The UT-Pan American coach I have opted to follow for the next three days, and I went our separate ways from the Spoiled Duo (yes, that’s what I’ll refer to Izzo and Parrish over the next couple of days.)

I’ve come up through the recruiting ranks, working with current ESPN guru Dave Telep at Scout.com for a few years – and most of my time, admittedly, was spent sitting next to high-major guys like Izzo.

Those guys have it easy.

They run around from gym to gym just to show their face. They text and talk more than they watch.

It’s a joke.

Guys like Marks have to actually work.

Let’s face it: My 7-year-old daughter (who has recently, by the way, developed a sweet 8-foot jumper) can identify the Andre Drummond’s, the Shabazz Muhammad’s and the Perry Ellis’ – the elite players in the country.

The most difficult aspect of recruiting is what Marks has to do: truly evaluate.

Here’s a guy who has been a Division 3, Division 2 and now a D-1 head coach – so he’s got a feel for watching prospects and determining what level they will likely play.

``It’s still not easy,” Marks said on Wednesday, the first day of the July recruiting period.

Marks, clad in a green polo with the school name across his chest, grey shorts and highly unfashionable sandals (sorry Ryan), bounced from gym to gym virtually all day. It wasn’t all that different than Izzo. However, instead of signing autographs and making idle chatter with his colleagues, Marks was all business.

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Much of the time, Marks sat alone in the bleachers – opting to evaluate rather than make small-talk.

He watched his share of Texas teams, but also made certain to follow Minnesota and Wisconsin teams.

``There are a ton of Minnesota natives who live in south Texas in the winter, so we decided it made sense to start recruiting the state,” Marks said. ``And my assistant, Nick Bennett, is from Wisconsin – and has a good feel for those teams.”

He got two kids from Minnesota in last year’s recruiting class.

Marks spent time in the main gym, sitting alongside the big boys, and also got in his mother’s Lexus and took the drive out to the smaller gyms.

He went so hard and so fast that, unlike the Spoiled Duo, there was no time for lunch or dinner.

In fact, Marks didn’t have anything until we stopped at a gas station and we picked up a couple drinks and some snacks when leaving Indianapolis around 9:30 p.m.

That’s when we left the gym bound for Chicago and the beautiful Marks Abode, a high-rise condo that sits in downtown (you can have your Akron hotel room, Parrish). In a cost-cutting measure, Marks has opted to stay with his mother – on a cot – while I got a comfy pull-up couch in one of the bedrooms.

Eat your heart out, Parrish.

It’s now almost 1 a.m. local time and we have to be up in four hours to beat the traffic in hopes of arriving in Milwaukee for the 8 a.m. game.

I’m on the grind, baby!

I’ll try and blog more on the drive in the morning, but for now, I need to get some sleep.

For more of our college basketball recruiting road trip, click here.
Posted on: July 6, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 10:51 am

2011 recruiting trip: Signing stuff, wasting time

By Gary Parrish

INDIANAPOLIS -- There is no way I could reasonably complain about my job when I have have friends running around warehouses. I know that. But it should be noted that anybody who thinks recruiting during the July evaluation period is all glitz and glamor is crazy. It's mostly long days in high school gyms watching lopsided games featuring one serious prospect playing against somebody who can't guard him.

It becomes boring quickly.

If it weren't for Tom Izzo's stories, I'd be asleep already. But Izzo's stories are terrific, and when USC's Kevin O'Neill joins in (like he did this morning), then we approach the record for curse words in a conversation pretty rapidly. So, yes, I've seen some talented kids. But the conversations are the highlights, by far.

Anyway ...

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Izzo and I -- I'm spending the next three days with him, if you didn't hear -- stayed in one gym for two games this morning to watch two prospects, then headed crosstown for a game featuring another kid he's recruiting. We have the Michigan State recruiting van -- complete with leather seats, Spartan logos, a flat screen TV and wireless internet -- and a driver to make things simple. But when we left the gym we couldn't immediately find the van, so we were surrounded by autograph hounds in the parking lot.

"Hey Parrish, how many autographs you sign?" yelled Ohio State assistant Jeff Boals.

"Zero so far," I said. "I only sign at hotel bars."

What I learned right away is that the guys -- young guys, old guys, all sorts of guys -- who were asking for autographs weren't after Izzo's autograph for the same reason I might've been after it when I was a kid. They were clearly just collecting as many signatures as possible to put on ebay. I made this point to Izzo just in case he didn't realize what was happening.

"I don't mind it," Izzo said. "If somebody is dumb enough to pay for my signature, I don't mind it."

After a few minutes of this -- and who knows how many signatures -- we loaded into the recruiting van, turned the TV on and began a 25-minute drive to another gym across town that's necessary because the Adidas Invitational has more than 100 teams in it. "Here's the problem," Izzo said. "These events have so many teams that we end up wasting more time than we should. If one court gets behind [in terms of scheduled start times], then you get behind. Then you drive across town, get stuck in traffic, whatever. And by the time you get to the next gym the game is halfway over, and if it's a blowout the kid you came to see might not even play much. We just waste a lot of time. How much am I really seeing?"

We finished this conversation and arrived at the new gym.

We got out.

We walked inside.

We found the court and the kid we came to see.

There was 1:26 left in his game.

"At least we saw the final 1:26," Izzo said with a smile. "It's so stupid."

Now we're at our third gym of the day.

We're watching our fifth game.

As I type, the score is 68-41.

For more of our college basketball recruiting road trip, click here.
Posted on: July 6, 2011 1:12 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 10:51 am

2011 recruiting trip: Intro Ryan Marks

By Jeff Goodman

When I initially thought of the idea for Gary Parrish to follow around a high-major coach and live the life for the first few days of the recruiting period and for me to travel with a low-major coach on a budget, I wanted to find the right guy.

I needed a guy on a budget.

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I had to have someone who was entertaining, because let’s face it, who wants to spend the better part of three days with someone who has no personality? 

Plus, this ongoing three-day project -- in which Parrish opted to trail Michigan State’s Tom Izzo -- needs to be fun for you, the readers.

And I also wanted someone who could coach.

Thus, I introduce you to my cohort for the next three days: Ryan Marks.

No, not Sean Marks -- the former big man who played at Cal.

This is Ryan Marks, who has spent the past two seasons as the coach at Texas-Pan American -- one of the most difficult jobs in the country.

Marks has won six games each of his two seasons at the helm, but talk to most guys in the business and they’ll tell you that he can coach.

He was 91-54 at St. Edward’s in the Division II ranks and went to three NCAA tournaments. He also won at Southern Vermont, compiling a 57-29 mark in three seasons and taking the school to its first-ever Division III NCAA tourney.

Marks can coach, and he has plenty of roadblocks to turning this thing around at UT-Pan American.

One is recruiting.

Right now I’m with Marks in a gym in Indianapolis, watching him identify who he hopes are the future studs in the Broncs program.

And trust me, you’re going to want to follow along over the next few days, because this should give you a peek at what it’s like on both sides of the recruiting trail.

The highs and lows of summer recruiting -- brought to you by CBSSports.com.

For more of our college basketball recruiting road trip, click here.
Posted on: July 6, 2011 7:03 am
Edited on: July 6, 2011 4:37 pm

The highs and lows of summer recruiting

By Gary Parrish

INDIANAPOLIS -- The private plane is why I agreed to the plan.

Sure, the idea was nice in general.

And I knew it could be fun and interesting.

But when my colleague Jeff Goodman suggested we do something different this summer and try to show readers the opposite worlds that high-major coaches and low-major coaches operate in during the July evaluation period, I added one stipulation before I signed up. I told him he'd have to let me travel like a high-major and he'd have to go low-major. Because Goodman is a team player, he obliged. So a little later on this morning I'll meet up with Michigan State's Tom Izzo while Goodman does the same with Texas-Pan American's Ryan Marks, and that's the way we'll spend the next three days.

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We'll all four start the evaluation period at the Adidas Invitational.

We'll all four start by sitting in the same bleachers.

Then, at some point, Izzo and I will go one way and Marks and Goodman will go another. What we hope to demonstrate -- both with words and pictures in this blog -- is how high-major coaches and low-major coaches don't live the same way despite technically being in the same profession. When Izzo and I leave Indianapolis for another event, we'll do so on a private plane. When Goodman and Marks leave Indianapolis for another event, well, I don't know how they'll do it, tell the truth. But I know they won't have a private plane, and I know they won't be staying in the same type of hotels, and I know they won't be watching the same type of prospects, either.

I'll be with Izzo all day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday while Goodman shadows Marks. We will update this blog several times a day each day with first-person observations from the road, and with some luck you'll have a better understanding by Friday night of how a man with a massive recruiting budget spends this month as opposed to a man with almost no recruiting budget at all. Some of it will be serious basketball stuff. Some of it will just be goofy anecdotes. Hopefully, all of it will be enjoyable. So bookmark this blog and return regularly. We'll check in from the gym in a little while. And I'll almost certainly Tweet from the private plane.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com