Posted on: September 18, 2008 1:30 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2008 1:43 pm

Purnell's HS likes him better than my HS likes me

Oliver Purnell will be at Stephen Decatur High in Maryland on Friday, but not to recruit. Instead he'll have his No. 22 jersey retired, the one he wore when he helped the Seahawks to the 1970 state basketball championship.

Since then, Purnell has gone on to be a 1,000-point scorer at Old Dominion and a successful head coach at Radford, Old Dominion, Dayton and Clemson. He was inducted into the ODU Hall of Fame in 1988. So the man has had a storied career, which is why I couldn't help but wonder why it took Stephen Decatur High so long to honor him.

Naturally, I went to Wikipedia to learn more about the school.

I was curious if there were like a ton of famous graduates or something else that might make the criteria to be honored a little tougher at Stephen Decatur High. But when I looked all I found was a writer for The OC and an indoor soccer player. That's what Stephen Decatur High has produced. So I'm thinking Purnell should've been honored like 30 years ago, at least. But whatever. He'll have his jersey retired at halftime of Friday night's game. Better late than never.

In a related note, I still haven't made Wikipedia's list of "Famous Residents" from Horn Lake, Miss.

This is devastating on many levels.

I don't want this to come off the wrong way, but in terms of Horn Lake High graduates I am pretty freaking unbelievable. Still, I've never been honored (even though I've asked the principal to retire my baseball jersey several times) and can't even get recognized by Wikipedia as one of the town's "Famous Residents." Brandon Jackson, back-up running back for the Green Bay Packers, is listed, and I'm OK with that. But the third famous resident is Donnie Newman, who is (according to Wikipedia) "one of the most respected band directors in the country and the director of the Horn Lake High School band, which is among the top 10 bands in the entire state of Mississippi."


I'm getting beat by a high school band director?

And since when does having a top 10 band in the state of Mississippi count for anything?

(Deep breath)

Anyway, Oliver Purnell is being honored by his high school.

Good for him.

We should all be so lucky.

(And by all, I mean me.)

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 14, 2008 2:30 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2008 2:33 pm

Purnell did a "beautiful job" recruiting Jennings

Milton Jennings, the subject of my latest column, didn't play serious organized basketball until eighth grade.

That's what you call a late start in this era of this sport.

But Oliver Purnell still had Jennings pegged early.

"Oliver told me when Milt was in the ninth grade that he didn't care what time of year it was or where it was, from that point forward he'd be wherever Milt was at on the first day of every recruiting period when coaches are allowed gyms," recalled Jennings' AAU coach, Rufus McDonald. "Oliver said he didn't care if it was 2006, 2007 or 2008 or what senior was coming out that particular year, he'd always open the period in whatever gym Milt was at. And guess what? Every recruiting period, Oliver opened in the gym with Milt. He kept his word and did a beautiful job recruiting him."

That's one of the stories I picked up while working on the column that didn't make the actual column. I'm sharing it here because it shows the importance of identifying priorities early and highlights how silly the notion of waiting to recruit kids until their junior or senior years can be. Anybody who waited that long to get on Jennings strarted well behind Clemson, thanks to Purnell and assistant Frank Smith. And because the Tigers worked so hard so early and they now have a commitment from a prospect who will likely become the school's first McDonald's All-American in 18 years.

Posted on: June 1, 2008 3:12 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2008 3:20 pm

Donovan hires Clemson's Smart

Billy Donovan completed his Florida staff this weekend by hiring Clemson assistant Shaka Smart, sources have told CBSSports.com. An official announcement is expected later this week.

Smart is considered one of the brightest young assistants in the business and was instrumental in the rise of Clemson basketball the last few years under Oliver Purnell. The 31-year-old with a bachelor's degree in history from Kenyon College and a master's degree in social science from California University of Pennsylvania will fill the void left on Donovan's staff left by Lewis Preston, who resigned from Florida last week to take a similar position at Penn State.

Donovan's staff now consists of Larry Shyatt, Rob Lanier and Smart.

The Gators should be a preseason Top 25 team.

Posted on: March 4, 2008 7:19 pm

Hammonds practiced Tuesday and should play at GT

Cliff Hammonds practiced Tuesday with what was described by the Clemson staff as "basically a cast" on his broken wrist and is expected to play Thursday at Georgia Tech.

The news is a nice development for the Tigers -- who have won four of their past five games, including showdowns with likely NCAA Tournament teams Miami and Maryland -- because having to go without Hammonds would mark the third time this season Clemson has played without at least one starter. James Mays missed five games in November and December and Demontez Stitt missed two games last month with injuries. Those two plus Hammonds account for 31.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 9.0 assists per contest.

Coincidentally, Hammonds is from Georgia, about 230 miles from the Georgia Tech campus.

He had 22 points in an 82-67 victory against the Yellow Jackets last month.

Category: NCAAB
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