Posted on: September 22, 2008 12:00 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2008 10:04 pm

Dear Gary (on picking a school)

Here's Monday Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: If you had a son ranked 50th in the class of 2009 by national recruiting services, to which school would you want to see him go and why? Eliminate the close to home factor, but consider all other factors. He has not yet selected a major.

-- Doc

I'm a big believer in the likelihood of significant playing time because no real player wants to sit the bench. That's why the first thing I'd do is consider the make-up of a program's roster and try to help my son understand how he might fit in. Let's say my son is a point guard and the school already has a junior point guard who is a two-year starter and solid and not a candidate to leave early, and that the school has also already committed a point guard my son has played against many times and, frankly, proved to be not quite as gifted. In that case, my advice is to look elsewhere because the most important thing is to play, and these circumstances should make it difficult to get on the court.

Beyond that, I'm looking at education because, let's be honest, unless my son is a consensus top 10 prospect the odds of him making the NBA are slim. So I want to know if Stanford is interested. Or Duke. Or Vanderbilt. Degrees from those schools are worth a lot of money, and if my son could succeed in the classroom there he'd either make a seven-figure salary in the NBA or a six-figure salary in the business world. Those aren't bad options. So we'd look at that, too. But if you're question revolves around strictly basketball then I would tell you that the obvious answers are North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Indiana, you know, places where the fan bases are so large and passionate that my son would be a star in the region regardless of whether he was really a star at all. There's a thing at some schools called Scholarship for Life which basically means if you represent the school well and don't show yourself to be an idiot there's always a big booster in charge of a company willing to hire you at an inflated salary for a job you may or may not be exactly qualified to have because he likes the idea of just being able to show off a famous former player.

I like the idea of Scholarship for Life.

So we'd have to look at that.

But again, my main advice is to go where playing time is available.

Because again, players want to play and they're usually unhappy when they're not .

Posted on: September 19, 2008 10:05 am

Dear Gary (on Big Blue Madness)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I only counted about 15 instances in that article (about Kentucky's Big Blue Madness) where (you try) to be subtle, insinuating (Billy Gillispie) and Kentucky are wasting time, not doing the "smart" thing, blah blah blah. (You) claim in terms of basketball it isn't smart. What a cast-iron dumbass. (You) say (you) were there last year. So, apparently that one visit qualifies (you) to judge a school's responsibilities (and honestly, the only reason (you) were there was because it was Gillispie's first year; any other year and (you) wouldn't have lowered yourself to grace us with (your) presence, preferring no doubt to further your ACC-sucking resume, but that’s another matter). Well, big f---ing deal on last year's visit. I have been to the last TWENTY Madnesses.

-- BT

The last 20, huh?

Sounds like somebody needs to get a life.

But in all seriousness, are you for real with this note?

Do you not realize I used that column to defend Gillispie's decision to move up Big Blue Madness. In other words, it was a positive Kentucky column, and any "subtle" jabs you think I took are merely the result of your paranoia kicking in because I never wrote that Big Blue Madness as an event is a waste of time. What I wrote was that "strictly in terms of basketball" it is a waste of time, meaning no player is going to walk out of Rupp Arena with a better sense of Gillispie's offense after two hours of Big Blue Madness, that the allotted time spent that particular week won't benefit the Wildcats in terms of actual on-the-court basketball. You took that comment and twisted it into me claiming there is no benefit to Big Blue Madness, which is ridiculous. Clearly, there is a benefit in terms of rallying fans and impressing recruits, the latter of which is the main reason Gillispie is moving up the event in the first place.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that you're crazy.

And that when people call Kentucky fans crazy, it's because of you.

But I've received enough emails from reasonable Kentucky fans to know they aren't all like you.

And for that, I am thankful.

As is every other college basketball writer in the world, I presume.

Posted on: August 29, 2008 11:54 am

Wall sets visits to four schools

It looks like Baylor is gonna have to sweat this out.

Jerry Meyer of Rivals.com is reporting that John Wall, the nation's No. 1 recruit, has set four official visits -- to Memphis (Sept. 12), Kansas (Sept. 19), Oregon (Oct. 3) and Kentucky (likely Oct. 10). Surely, a trip to Baylor will come at some point. But the hope Scott Drew had that his hiring of Dwon Clifton, Wall's AAU coach, would secure a quick commitment from the elite point guard seems to have faded away.

"Baylor's situation in hiring Dwon gives John a comfort level that doesn't exist anywhere else," Brian Clifton, Wall's other AAU coach and Dwon Clifton's brother told Meyer. "But there are some schools that John is interested in because of style of play or the incoming recruiting class. Those factors and others might have as much to do with where John goes to school as anything. ... If he wants to go to Baylor or if he wants to go to Memphis, he is going to do what he thinks is best for himself. Dwon did what was best for himself, and that does have some impact on John because his comfort level is the most important factor. But it doesn't obligate John to go to Baylor."

Posted on: August 9, 2008 8:16 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2008 10:28 pm

Wall breaks (somebody else's) recruiting news

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- John Wall finally announced a college decision Saturday afternoon.

No, it wasn't his decision, silly.

It was Jordan Hamilton's.

"I think he's going to Texas," Wall said. "I think that's where he's going."

So that's the (somewhat) big news coming out of the Nike Global Challenge, a three-day event here in the shadows of Nike's headquarters featuring three teams from the United States competing against squads from Senegal, Serbia, Canada, Puerto Rico and Lithuania. After Wall got 11 points, five assists and six steals in 23 minutes to lead his team to an 86-72 win over Puerto Rico, he disclosed Hamilton's future college -- though Hamilton is yet to confirm, it's worth noting -- and then made time to discuss his own roller-coaster ride of a recruitment with great candor.

A 6-foot-3 point guard, Wall has been thrust into the spotlight recently for three reasons:

1. He's the No. 1 prospect in America.

2. Baylor just hired one of his AAU coaches, Dwon Clifton, to be its director of player development.

3. His other AAU coach, Brian Clifton, is a former licensed sports agent, as CBSSports.com reported Friday.

Those developments have put Wall in the position of having multiple fan bases -- and to a lesser degree the entire recruiting world -- hang on his every move. It's strange, he admitted, particularly considering that this time two years ago he was a mostly unknown commodity outside of his home state of North Carolina.

"It's been kinda hard," Wall said. "But when you get on the basketball court you just have to block it out."

As for his recruitment, Wall acknowledged Baylor's hiring of Dwon Clifton matters.

Big surprise, huh?

"It might give them a little edge because (Dwon has) helped me out a lot," Wall said. "He's my AAU coach. He talked me through a lot and worked me out and things like that. I feel like all the schools are the same. But (Dwon) gave (Baylor) a little bit of an edge."

So there you go, Baylor fans.

You have the edge.

But the bad news for the Bears is that Wall said he's not ready to commit and that he will take official visits.

"I think I'll visit Memphis, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas and Kentucky," he said. "And I was talking to Jordan Hamilton and he asked me if I'd put (Texas) back into the mix. So I think I'm gonna give them a look, too. ... But I don't have a timetable (on a decision). ... It could be right before basketball season or during basketball season. It could be anytime."

In other words, stay tuned.

Posted on: August 1, 2008 10:19 am

Dear Gary (on buttmunches)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I am a Kentucky fan and don't feel any ill will towards you or your columns. I realize that a majority of the "vocal" fans are obnoxious and rather boorish but the majority of the UK fans I know and meet are just the opposite. I am sorry you get dimwits who wish death upon you and yours but please don't lump me in with them. I know you can only write about what you get, but I promise that if you were to take a trip through the Commonwealth you would see that most UK fans are not like the "vocal" ones. I live in Arkansas, where the enthusiasm for a college team actually rivals ours. The few UK fans I have found here are thoughtful and caring individuals. So, if it ever comes up again (which I'm sure it will in about three months), please let folks know that the "vocal" UK fans are not representative of the majority of UK fans. Keep up the good work and hang the buttmunches, whatever team they follow.

-- Jay

Well, Jay, that's an awfully nice note. I'm going to let it cancel out the 150 or so I've received from the "vocal" UK fans over the past few days, most of which were so crazy and out-of-touch with reality I didn't know whether to laugh or be concerned. Honestly, you have some real whackos rooting for your Wildcats, folks who take things way too seriously. But I realize that's just the loud and obnoxious (and totally insane) minority, and I appreciate you pointing that out to the rest of our readers, who I'm assuming needed a little convincing given the stereotype some UK fans perpetuate with every misguided email or message board post.

(Also: Nice use of the word buttmunches. I believe this is the first time it's appeared in the blog. Congrats.)

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: July 31, 2008 11:25 am
Edited on: July 31, 2008 11:28 am

Dear Gary (on death threats)

Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: What kind of poll is this where you do a hatchet job on one team on the voting page? Ralph Beard and Alex Groza didn't throw games. They just made sure some spreads weren't covered. That's not as bad because we still won. Then you couldn't resist taking a shot at Adolph Rupp. What about Bob Knight? I hope something really bad happens to you. I'm gonna use my birthday wish on it.

-- Dustin

That note was sent July 16, when I wrote about the Indiana-Kentucky matchup in the CBSSports.com National Champions All-Stars Bracket. I referenced it in an earlier Dear Gary but felt it was worth using in its entirety this time because I got another email from Dustin on Wednesday. It's an update, of sorts, one for which I am thankful. Here it is ...

Dear Gary: My birthday is this week and you'll be happy to know I decided against wishing for your death. I need a new big screen anyway.

-- Dustin


Happy Birthday, Dustin.

Thanks for (not) thinking of me.

And good luck with that big screen.

(Parrish lives to fight another day!)
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: July 30, 2008 10:25 am
Edited on: July 30, 2008 10:25 am

Dear Gary (on Kentucky and Elite Camps)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Did Kentucky utilize the Elite Camp loophole during Tubby Smith's tenure? I thought Tubby wouldn't deal with the AAU coaches.

-- Thomas

Honestly, I'm not sure whether Kentucky was holding Elite Camps back then. But either way, I never understood Tubby's concept of not "dealing" with AAU coaches. That's like being in the movie-making business but claiming not to want to deal with fame. The fame goes with the territory of being an actor, just like dealing with AAU coaches is a part of being the basketball coach of an elite program.

There are really only two options:

1. Deal with AAU coaches and try to get their players.

Or ...

2. Move to Minnesota.

Posted on: July 23, 2008 3:00 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2008 3:03 pm

Dear Gary (on Kentucky)

LAS VEGAS -- Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: As a UK fan, I appreciate your response to those emails you received, but I hate that you had to do that. Unfortunately there is a small portion of our fan base that thinks the world is out to get UK and they also happen to own computers. I enjoy the articles and takes you have on the items you write about. Please don't stop and don't let the few bad eggs ruin your view of the Big Blue faithful.

-- John

I can't even remember the last day that passed without an email from a Kentucky fan, and the notes alternate between somebody threatening my family and somebody else apologizing on behalf of their fellow UK fans, you know, the ones threatening my family. It's entertaining, if not redundant. But I'd never let a certain portion of a fan base make me think an entire fan base is crazy.

The reality is all fan bases have some lunatics who believe every writer has an agenda against their school. And though I do think Kentucky has more than anybody, I think that's probably because Kentucky has more fans than anybody, good and bad. So though the numbers are higher, the ratio is about the same as any other school even if the reasonable fans tend not to email with nearly as much emotion, meaning I've never had anybody wish pleasant things for my family to offset all the threats.

But perhaps that's coming tomorrow.

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