Tag:Jeff Borzello
Posted on: August 8, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 4:22 pm

Royce White to be greatest Cyclone of all time?

By Jeff Borzello

With four transfers eligible this season for Iowa State, expectations are understandably high in Ames.

But fans might need to temper their excitement just a little bit.

Marc Hansen of the Des Moines Register penned a column over the weekend about the buzz surrounding new arrival Royce White. Apparently, Iowa State supporters are more energized than I thought.

The other day at a breakfast club meeting, I ran into a longtime Cyclone fan who said the transfer from Minnesota will turn out to be the best basketball player in school history.

Not could.

Not might.


While clearly talented coming out of high school, White is the same player who was expelled from his first high school, De La Salle (Ill.). The same player who had off-court issues at Minnesota, and then made a series of YouTube videos announcing that his college basketball career was over. He hasn’t played a game in about two years.

Yet some think he’s primed to be the best player in Iowa State history. Better than Jamaal Tinsley, better than Marcus Fizer, better than Jeff Hornacek, better than everyone.

White does seem more focused heading into this season, and was actually the first player to ever average a triple-double in the YMCA Capital City summer league. To his credit, he also didn’t jump on the bandwagon when Hansen informed him of the fan’s sentiment.

“It’s an objective term and probably a little extreme, considering all the great players who’ve been here, but I’d like to be on the list someday,” White told the paper. “I think it’s achievable. Not for what I do individually as much as for what we do as a team.”

There is little doubt that Iowa State will be vastly improved from last year, with Chris Allen (Michigan State), Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois) and Chris Babb (Penn State) joining White as newcomers. But this is a team that went 3-13 in the Big 12 last season.

The influx of talent is certainly enough to boost the expectations surrounding Iowa State, but it seems the Kool-Aid (to use a reference from Hansen’s column) is flowing a little too much.

Posted on: August 5, 2011 5:02 pm

J-Mychal Reese pops for Texas A&M

By Jeff Borzello

The stories surrounding J-Mychal Reese have certainly not been limited. There were rumors that he and his father were a package deal, while others focused on his affection for Kansas.

On Thursday, Reese decided to stay at home and go to Texas A&M. The news was first reported by Scout.com and confirmed to CBSSports.com by two sources.

More on Recruiting

Reese, a 6-foot-2 guard from Bryan (Texas), lives a short distance from the College Station campus and has a brother who is a manager for the Aggies. Moreover, John Reese, J-Mychal’s father, could still have an assistant coach job offer on the table from new coach Billy Kennedy.

While not a pure point guard, Reese is one of the best shooters in the country. The lefty has a deadly pull-up jumper and is most effective when attacking after a jab step or ball fake. He can handle the ball and initiate offense, but is more productive when playing off the ball. Reese ranks No. 44 in CBSSports.com's Top 100.

Photo: Kelly Kline

Posted on: August 5, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: August 5, 2011 12:15 pm

Top-50 recruit's father can't trust Cal, Pitino

By Jeff Borzello

The major story surrounding Derek Willis on Thursday was the news of his decommitment from Purdue.

The father of Willis, a top-50 junior from Bullitt East High School in Kentucky, later denied the commitment withdrawal, but said we would all know more on Sunday.

If this were solely a decommitment story, though, you would find it on the recruiting blog.

This is about a quote found at the bottom of an article at Rivals.com’s Purdue affiliate site, made by Del Willis, Derek’s father.

“I don’t know if I can trust a Coach [Rick] Pitino or Coach [John] Calipari,” Willis said. “Their agenda is more for their benefit than the kid’s. They’re more worried about themselves.”

Remember, Willis is a four-star recruit from the state of Kentucky – and his father is disparaging the two biggest coaches in the commonwealth, if not the country. Besides the implications that his father clearly doesn’t want him staying in-state for college, it’s very interesting that he would alienate two of the most successful programs.

What makes it even more interesting is the fact Willis’ high school coach said Kentucky and Louisville have already reached out since news of Willis’ decommitment leaked out on Thursday.

This will certainly be fun to follow in the next few weeks, especially if Willis has indeed decommitted. One can assume his father will fight to keep Calipari and Pitino far, far away from his son’s recruitment.

Posted on: August 3, 2011 1:11 pm

How rampant is illegal contact in the summer?

p>By Jeff Borzello

Just to put it out there: it’s not just Duke and Alex Poythress.

Since CBSSports.com’s story about Poythress adding an offer from Duke after the AAU Super Showcase, a media storm has descended on Mike Kryzewski, Poythress and the Blue Devils.

The reason: Poythress spoke with Coach K during the July live period – a possible violation of an NCAA rule that states coaches and players cannot have contact while a player is with his AAU team at an event. Duke and the NCAA are both investigating the matter, which could result in a light punishment for the Duke coaches.

As my colleague Gary Parrish wrote in his Monday column, it’s not a big deal and the rule is silly.

For a follow-up to the story, CBSSports.com contacted nearly a dozen top-100 recruits to gauge how often “illegal contact” occurs during the July live period. All spoke off the record.

Four were adamant that they had zero contact with colleges during the evaluation period, and one left the door slightly open.

“I didn’t get any calls, that I know of,” he said. “I probably did and they left a voicemail. I’m not really sure.”

Another didn’t receive any calls or texts, but did make phone calls on three separate occasions to schools after his AAU coach told him they had reached out.

“I honestly didn’t know [it was a violation],” he said. “I thought you’re allowed to call them.”

One prospect received similar requests from colleges to call a coach, but he refused after seeing the Poythress story.

“I knew it was a violation and wasn’t going to take a chance the way this situation went down,” he said.

Coaches are finding creative ways to get around the no-contact rule, although these strategies might be illegal, as well.

“Some college players would text me and tell me so and so is coming to the game,” one prospect said.

Another prospect said a coach “accidentally” texted him. While that might be true, it could also be another trick in the battle between coaches and the NCAA rulebook.

More on Recruiting

It’s almost amusing to watch coaches go the extra mile to avoid making blatant contact with prospective recruits. In the Orlando airport last week, I saw a head coach and one his committed players standing on opposite sides of the baggage claim. Each clearly knew the other one was there; they just didn’t acknowledge it.

Not everyone has adhered more closely to the rules in the wake of the incident. One recent commitment came as a result of a coach calling the grandfather of a high school prospect while the player was at a July AAU tournament.

For the most part, though, the Duke-Poythress story put everyone on an even higher alert.

“Everybody was really acting scared,” one prospect said.

When it comes down to it, most of the recruits hold the same opinion as the rest of the people in basketball.

Said one player: “I really don’t think it’s a big deal that they offered him during a tourney. But that’s just me.”

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: July 30, 2011 6:02 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2011 6:03 pm

Duke and NCAA investigating possible violation

By Jeff Borzello

Duke and the NCAA are investigating whether an NCAA recruiting rule was violated when coach Mike Krzyzewski reportedly offered a scholarship to a recruit during a summer tournament.

The scholarship offer to five-star prospect Alex Poythress came on Tuesday night, after Poythress’ AAU team was eliminated from the AAU Super Showcase in Orlando, Fla.

Poythress confirmed the offer to CBSSports.com on Thursday, and said he spoke to Krzyzewski when he received the offer.

“It felt pretty good,” Poythress said of the offer. “It was pretty exciting to talk to Coach K. He said he saw me play at the Super Showcase and Peach Jam, and he liked what he saw.”

NCAA rules prevent coaches from contacting players before they are finished playing in tournaments. While the Georgia Stars were indeed eliminated from the Super Showcase, they were still in Orlando for the AAU Nationals. Players have to be dispersed from the team in order for a coach to talk to them.

On Sunday, Duke responded via spokesman Jon Jackson. “Proper adherence to NCAA bylaws has always been, and will continue to be, a cornerstone of Duke athletics,” the statement said.

Poythress is a 6-foot-7 forward from Northeast (Tenn). He is ranked No. 15 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100.

Information from the AP was used in this report.

Posted on: July 23, 2011 7:08 am
Edited on: July 23, 2011 12:08 pm

Friday just the first day of a 10-day grind

Jeff Borzello is taking all day Friday to tag along with Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins. He'll be checking in every couple of hours with updates, anecdotes and tidbits from the recruiting trail. Check here for a timeline of the posts. 

By Jeff Borzello

LAS VEGAS -- It's been 16 hours since Mike Hopkins called me from seven feet away in his rented Infiniti SUV at 7:15 a.m.

There are four other coaches here in a remote gym. In fact, we're not even in Las Vegas anymore.

Sixteen hours of watching, evaluating, babysitting, driving -- and it's only the first day of a 10-day grind.

"It's always worth it," Hopkins said.

He said the mere possibility of a kid going to another school for lack of attention is reason enough to spend all these nights in small gyms.

"When recruiting a kid, wouldn't it make you sick if he said, 'Well, you didn't recruit me hard enough,'" Hopkins said. "I'm not leaving until the kid sees me, looking like a billboard."

Of course, it's not all self-motivation. Competition with the other coaches helps give a little extra energy in late July.

"You play games with yourself," Hopkins said. "I see other guys here and I'm like, we'll see on day 10."

Can Hopkins, who admittedly was a little tired late Friday night, pull off a week and a half of 16-hour days?

He smiled and nodded.

"To get a kid? Definitely."

Posted on: July 22, 2011 10:00 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 10:02 pm

Unfortunate truth: July means family life suffers

Jeff Borzello is taking all day Friday to tag along with Syracuse assisant Mike Hopkins. He'll be checking in every couple of hours with updates, anecdotes and tidbits from the recruiting trail. Check here for a timeline of the posts.

By Jeff Borzello

LAS VEGAS -- The hardest part of being an assistant coach is not losing a game, losing a recruit or losing sleep.

For Mike Hopkins, it's being away from his family for so much of the year.

"It's very hard," Hopkins said.

The actual season lasts more than five months, with road trips and late nights in the office taking up much of that time frame. Factor in more than 20 days on the road in July, recruiting trips throughout the year and in-home visits in the fall, and assistant coaches are forced to truly make the most of their time at home.

"It's a long season," Hopkins said. "The biggest thing is the pull that you have [from home and from the job]. It's almost like, when are you home?"

While at home, he said he puts his phone in a different room after around 7 p.m. and only check it periodically during the rest of the night.

"I was getting too many phone calls," Hopkins said. During my time with him, his phone rang dozens of times and buzzed with text messages on countless occasions. Being on the road is a different story. His sole mode of communication with his family is via phone.

Hopkins, who has a wife and three kids back home in Syracuse, speaks to his wife on the phone several times a day. He tried to FaceTime on his iPhone at one point, too. (It failed, due to lack of Wi-Fi in the gym). A text message from his son early in the morning made his day, while videos of his daughter jumping off a diving board and going down a slide for the first time brought a smile to his face.

"You don't want to miss any moments," Hopkins said.

For an assistant coach on the road, it's becoming harder and harder to do that -- but some still find a way.

Photo: AP
Posted on: July 22, 2011 6:52 pm

Unreliability with tourneys, teams in Las Vegas

Jeff Borzello is taking all day Friday to tag along with Syracuse assisant Mike Hopkins. He'll be checking in every couple of hours with updates, anecdotes and tidbits from the recruiting trail. Check here for a timeline of the posts.

By Jeff Borzello

LAS VEGAS -- Coaching staffs spend countless minutes planning out their recruiting schedules, down to how many minutes it takes to get from one gym to another.

It's a science to figure out how to see as many targets as possible.

Friday afternoon, Mike Hopkins and I left one game early to catch a prospect at a gym 25 minutes away. The kid wasn't there -- he was playing on a different team.

"No question [it's annoying]," Hopkins said. "It is what it is. It's part of the deal, it happens all the time."

At an event like the Peach Jam, where everything is in one place, it might not matter. In Vegas, though, it changes the entire schedule.

"We spend 20 minutes going there, we could've gotten something to eat, gone over here, over there," Hopkins said.
"Time is of the essence, when you're going from gym to gym to gym."

And it's back to the drawing board.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com