The last time Kansas didn’t win the Big 12 Conference championship in men’s basketball:
- The Big 12 had its original 12 members.
- George W. Bush was in his first term as POTUS.
- Twitter was two years from being launched.
- Usher’s “Yeah” was the No. 1 song on the Billboard charts.
- Donald Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “In many cases, I probably identify more as Democrat.”
If 11-year-old Landen Lucas had the opportunity to observe 22-year-old Landen Lucas last season during a bus ride home from a 13-point Kansas basketball loss in Ames, Iowa, the younger version probably would have wondered what all the fuss was about.
Reeling from his team’s third loss in a five-game span, Lucas remembers vividly the bus ride home from Ames that late January night, when concerns circled inside his head and the pressure of keeping alive Kansas’ incredible run of 12 straight Big 12 regular season titles first became real.
“It sucked,” Lucas recalled. “The whole way we were just thinking, ‘What did we get ourselves into?'”
According to Lucas, that feeling is nothing new.
“Every year we go through a point where we go, ‘Oh, crap, this might be the time,’” he recalled.
The reaction to Bill Self’s conference championships are a little different at Kansas than at his previous coaching stop.
Self won a pair of regular-season conference crowns at Illinois, where he coached for three seasons (2000-03). There, Illini fans packed airports to greet their returning champions, sometimes in groups as large as 5,000.
At KU, where Self has won 12 straight Big 12 championships, the response is a tad ho-hum.
“Here you get a T-shirt,” Self said. “But it’s usually a nice T-shirt.”
…Preseason expectations are arguably as high as ever for this incarnation, ranked No. 2 in the USA Today preseason coaches poll. That represents the highest spot KU has held since debuting at No. 1 before the 2009-10 campaign.
Self said he doesn’t spend much time discussing with his players expectations from the fans or media.
“I think we talk about, don’t listen to what outside people say because they have no knowledge of what’s really going on inside our locker room or on the practice court,” Self said. “But if anything, I think we use the expectations as motivation to perform or to prepare to perform at a very detailed and rapid rate.”
Bovada Sportsbook put odds on the board for 24 candidates for 2017 Associated Press college basketball player of the year and included two Kansas players, Jackson (14/1) and senior Frank Mason (50/1).
Yet, when I asked Jackson to share his opinion on which Kansas player had the best chance of winning the Wooden award, his answer was neither player on the board. Same for questions asking him to name which teammate was the best shooter, which is the most difficult for him to guard. That’s an indication of the depth of talent on this roster.
Jackson has enough self-confidence that if he thought he had the best chance of taking home the ultimate individual hardware, he would have said so.
“Could be this guy right here,” Jackson said, pointing to the teammate seated next to him. “Could be Devonte (Graham). I see him in practice every day. He’s really good. He’s gotten a lot better from last year, too. This guy will surprise a lot of people.”
Jackson has a presence that belies his youth and a timbre to his voice that sounds as if it belongs to a veteran broadcaster. And when talking basketball, he breaks things down the way a color commentator might, as he did when asked how Graham has improved from the player he watched on TV last season.
“Handle’s gotten a little better,” Jackson said. “Shot selection’s gotten a lot better, shooting a little more mid-range (jumpers).”
Graham doesn’t need to get any better than he was in outplaying 2016 Wooden Award winner Buddy Hield in Norman late last season.
“I did watch that game,” Jackson said. “He can be better than that. He can.”
...“I’ve just always been the quiet guy who has just floated under the radar, not really noticed,” Graham said. “I think that was one of the reasons I played as well as I did last year.”
The narrative has changed this season. Big 12 coaches believe he’s one of the best players in the conference. KU coach Bill Self is expecting Graham to be a primary leader.
And others are starting to take note of him too. Graham was notified quickly by King when his name popped up as a potential first-round pick in an article on DraftExpress.com.
“She definitely saw that one,” Graham said with a smile.
Graham, who is projected as the 28th pick in the latest draft projection on the site (he’s also listed as the second-best junior behind Duke’s Grayson Allen) should be a candidate to leave after this season if all goes right. One reason is his age, as he’s a year older than others in his class after spending a year in prep school.
“It’s something I don’t really try to think about too much,” Graham said of his potential NBA future. “It messes guys up, and their performances and gets in their heads.
“When the time is right, it’ll happen for me. I’m in no rush to go anywhere yet.”
“The good thing about Josh,” Self said in a serious tone, “is he’s unpacked his bags. Sometimes I think kids go to college but still yet their sight is on the next thing. If his sight is on the next thing, he doesn’t let anybody in Lawrence, Kansas know it.
“He wants to be a college kid, a teammate, a friend, all those things college kids go through. He’s coming in as mature and worldly as any kid we’ve ever had. He’s well beyond his years for a college freshman.”
Self said Jackson, who is projected by ESPN.com to be picked No. 3 in the 2017 NBA Draft, has lived up to the hype at practice.
“Three weeks in, I would say he is more complete than any kid we’ve ever had come through here. That is as an entering freshman,” Self said. “I don’t know we’ve had anybody who can rebound, pass, handle, shoot, defend, (show) toughness, (be) competitive, unselfish, who can think two passes ahead. Josh is right at the top.”
…KU’s veterans tested Jackson “by fouling a little bit, seeing how you react, telling you to do stuff, carrying their bags. All freshmen have to do it. (I’ve) got to bite my tongue and do it. I knew it was coming.”
Jackson on Tuesday talked about everything from his long hair — “hair is little bit of an issue; we’ve got a lot of guys on the team with long hair,” he stated, indicating Self “doesn’t seem to mind” — to the “funniest” thing he’s witnessed thus far.
“So during Boot Camp, we were running. One of our teammates was throwing up in the trash can. I’m not going to drop names,” Jackson said. “The next morning we see a picture of him on the trash can throwing up on the trash can and it’s on every trash can. Some one took the picture of him and Coach Self took the picture and plastered it over every trash can in the gym.”
Jackson added that “the funniest guy on the team is (sophomore guard) Lagerald Vick. He’s hilarious the things he does at serious times. He’ll make jokes.”
…Self praised 7-foot Udoka Azubuike, who is down to 272 pounds after losing 30 pounds since arriving on campus in June.
“He is a guy who could become a really good player. He’s also a guy who could foul out in five minutes,” Self said.
“Landen is the best assistant coach there is, because he coaches Udoka every day,” Self said. “Udoka does something, Landen will literally walk on the floor, point and say, ‘No, ’Doke, this is where you need to be. This is why we’re doing this.’ Then he’ll remove himself right there. It’s not something we tell him to do. He’s taken great pride in getting ’Doke ready. He’s probably about as good as anybody I’ve ever been around in teaching young players. I could see him being a very good coach when he’s done playing.”
Asked for an update on the battle between junior Dwight Coleby and freshman Mitch Lightfoot for the second-big-man-the-bench job, Self said that neither player had separated himself from the other two weeks into practice.
“They've both done fine. Both are doing pretty good," Self said. "But Dwight is still not 100 percent. He’s structurally fine, (from his 2015 ACL surgery) but he’s still dragging it a little bit. Mitch is going to be good, but Mitch is young, green and doesn’t totally understand yet."
Asked what might determine which player gets whatever minutes might be available for that spot in the rotation, Self pointed to specifics.
"(It'll be decided) probably by match-ups," Self said. "If the other team plays a pick-and-pop 4, who can get to him the best? Or maybe, if we're trying to grind it (and) throw it inside, which guy can be the best at that.... It'll probably be situations as much as anything else."
Ishmail Wainright is in his fourth year at Baylor and before that grew up in Kansas City, so he is uniquely qualified to talk about the most annoying part of playing basketball in the Big 12.
He may or may not be aware of the joke about the league being Kansas and nine other schools in both football and men’s basketball, but he is absolutely aware that the league is working on year No. 13 of failing to knock the Jayhawks out of the regular-season championship.
So this year, his last at Baylor, will be spent much like the first three. He will pay special attention to KU scores, checking them the first thing after his own games, hoping — really, really, hoping — to see a Kansas loss. In fact, Wainright is not too proud to admit he hopes KU goes 9-9 or worse this year.
At least that way, somebody else can be the champion, and we can stop talking about The Streak. Because, as long as we’re all being honest, it’s incredibly annoying to play in a league where one school has won at least a share of every conference championship since the freshman class was in kindergarten.
“Yes,” Wainright said at the Big 12’s annual media day at the Sprint Center. “Yes. It really is (annoying).”
This is the story that will not go away until one of the nine other schools makes it go away. Kansas is the overwhelming favorite, again, and you probably know a 13th consecutive league championship would tie the record set by UCLA. That streak began in something called the AAWU, which has since evolved into the Pac-12, and ended so long ago that ESPN wasn’t alive to overhype it.
UCLA’s run was such a different time in college basketball that it’s fair to say we’ve never seen something like this — and fair to say KU’s hoarding of trophies is a bad look for the other schools, coaches, and the league as a whole.
“I don’t know why that would taint anything,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, whose team is picked second behind KU. “Because they’ve been one of the top three or four teams in the country for how many years, and that’s not going to change. They can be in whatever league you want to put them in and they’re still going to be. So don’t listen to those people.”
KC Star Mellinger
10/26 Edition Rock Chalk Weekly
There's no doubting the fact that because the opener against the Thunder is at home it will be an extra-special night for the self-proclaimed "Trust the Process" kid himself.
"Yeah, it's special," said the third overall draft pick in 2014, who missed his first two seasons after surgeries on his right foot. "I have been waiting for a long time and I haven't played in two years, and I was a high pick and [Sixers fans] have been waiting for a long time. So it's going to be special for the city, for myself, for the coaches, my teammates, and my family."
But he's going to do his best to make this a regular day.
KU single game ticket info
Why Allen Fieldhouse is the BEST!
BIG 12/COLLEGE NEWS
Big 12 Media Day Central
Of all the leagues playing major college basketball, perhaps none will have a fresher look this season than the Big 12. The old guard that became household names -- Georges Niang at Iowa State, Devin Williams at West Virginia and Perry Ellis at Kansas -- either graduated or left school early, leaving in their wake dozens of starting jobs at schools across the league.
"Given the number of seniors we had graduate last year, a lot of new roles and minutes are available," Sooners coach Lon Kruger said. "It's not great to be young in any league, the Big 12 especially."
Indeed, looking at the All-Big 12 teams of a year ago is likely to make some fans feel nostalgic, especially when you consider that the entire first team and 11 of the 15 players overall have departed.
That includes Hield, Niang and Ellis, who were joined on the first team by Texas guard Isaiah Taylor and Baylor forward Taurean Prince. Williams and Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. left school after their junior years, while Cousins and Spangler joined the Mountaineers' Jaysean Paige and big man Rico Gathers of Baylor in exhausting their eligibility.
"Every day we find something new about our team," said Sooners senior Jordan Woodard.
Those veteran departures are certain to cause some coaches plenty of heartburn.
They're also welcomed by a couple whose teams return intact.
"You lost a lot of valuable members of teams, some of the greatest players in the history of the Big 12, from Buddy to Georges to Perry," said Kansas State coach Bruce Weber, who managed to weather his own growing pains with a bunch of newcomers last year.
"Those guys, if you look at those teams, they seem to have parts back," Weber said, "but you're not sure about other people. I think that's the case with a lot of teams."
Curtis Shaw can sense the uproar coming from a mile away.
Shaw, the Big 12’s coordinator of men’s basketball officials, outlined a number of new officiating tweaks in his annual presentation for the conference’s media day Tuesday at Sprint Center. He expects one new interpretation, involving the so-called cylinder play, will get the most scrutiny early on.
“It's going to be controversial because we're going to have a kid laying there with a bloody nose or broken jaw, and the foul's going to be on him,” Shaw said. “But as we told the coaches, don't get that close.”
…Shaw said if the defender gets hit, the responsibility will now be on the defense. He said the key to officiating the play is based on the position of the forearm.
“If the forearms are vertical, I'm legal,” Shaw said. “I can make any movement other than stepping out of my space, and the onus is on the defense. If I'm chest level, my forearms go parallel. Now I'm clearing space, and the foul will be on the offense still.”
Shaw said officials have been instructed to err on calling the foul on the defense because, as a potential flagrant foul, it can always be reviewed and reversed.
…The other major rule tweak Shaw outlined involves play in the restricted area under the basket. This year, if contact occurs in the restricted area and a defender doesn’t leave his feet, the foul will always be called on the defender, regardless of who made initial contact.
Defenders don’t necessarily have to go for a block, but the key is to now go vertical and make a “legitimate attempt to jump,” Shaw said.
…Kansas coach Bill Self, meanwhile, said the new interpretations could make it difficult for a team’s best players to be aggressive, but acknowledged the changes will likely be good for the game in the long run.
“But initially there’s going to be some heartache,” Self said, “and probably more so on the big guys than anyone else.”
And, at least in the short term, Self joked that West Virginia’s Bob Huggins might be the coach most affected by the changes.
“I think that Huggins has the most issues because they’re telling them they can’t foul every possessions like they always do,” Self said with a smile. “That was a bad attempt at humor.”
After taking the podium for the day’s first session with the media, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber was interviewed on KCSP-AM (610), where he was asked about the challenge of dethroning KU. He responded by pointing out three factors for KU’s sustained success: Bill Self, the ability to win on the road and the duo of Graham and Mason, which he referred to as “probably the best backcourt in the country.”
“Frank is tough. He’s as tough a guy as in the league, probably in the country. ... He doesn’t back down to anyone, steps up and makes the big shots,” Weber later clarified. “And then Graham, last year kind of quietly — he had some huge games.”
Word traveled back to the KU players, who were caught off guard. Mason said he was surprised to hear it. Graham doubled down on that reaction.
“I don’t know how I feel about that,” Graham said, letting out a nervous laugh. “It’s definitely nice though, for him to say that.”
Even if Graham isn’t sure, the Jayhawks will enter the season with one of the top backcourts in the nation. Excluding Josh Jackson, the No. 1 ranked freshman on several lists, the team’s returning guards have not only fans excited, but KU coach Bill Self as well.
“I don’t know who everybody else has, but I wouldn’t trade my guys for anybody,” Self said. “I don’t know that there’s a coach that could be more comfortable with his guard play than we are.”
Among the storylines in the Big 12 this year is the return of Phil Forte, who missed most of last season with an elbow injury and was granted a redshirt
Forte is just one of a select group to have played in a win against the Self-led Jayhawks both at home and on the road, causing some in Lawrence to view him as a villain of sorts. Asked about taking on that villain role, Forte smiled, adding it’s especially meaningful for him to play against KU given his upbringing.
“I was a huge KU fan going up. I had my room painted KU. (My) dad played football there. My mom went there,” Forte said. “I went to the Final Four when Hakim Warrick blocked the 3 and I was at the game (where) Mario Chalmers hit the 3-pointer.”
As for his win in Allen Fieldhouse, it’s one of several proud accomplishments for the redshirt senior. After all, that game marked the most recent conference loss the Jayhawks have suffered at Allen Fieldhouse and just one of nine times they’ve been on the wrong side of a result there under Self.
“Anytime you get to step up in Allen Fieldhouse, it’s just a great feeling,” said Forte, who made several late free throws down the stretch of that contest before hitting the game-sealing layup.
“There really is no arena like it. There’s no arena with the culture and tradition that Allen Fieldhouse has. Just the presence (it) can give a team is something no other team by far comes close to.”
First-year Oklahoma State basketball coach Brad Underwood walked into the Big 12 media day jamboree at the Sprint Center, and all of a sudden it felt like Throwback Tuesday.
As if out of central casting, Underwood exudes a square-jawed, rugged, good-humored embodiment of the old Big Eight.
It’s affirmed by pedigree: For starters, he’s a descendant of the Henry Iba tree via Jack Hartman coaching him at Kansas State — an identity Underwood’s three Oklahoma State players here Tuesday confirmed, noting his obsession with defense.
Growing up in McPherson, Kan., Underwood regularly watched the Big Eight game of the week and traveled to Kansas City for conference holiday tournaments and NAIA tourneys held in a place, he says, that “engulfs basketball.”
Moreover, his upbringing evokes the birthplaces of native Kansan coaching greats who first played in the league: Dean Smith (Emporia/Kansas), Adolph Rupp (Halstead/KU), Eddie Sutton (Bucklin/Oklahoma State), Gene Keady (Larned/K-State) and Lon Kruger (Silver Lake/K-State).
Those Big Eight tentacles extend everywhere, including to Kansas coach Bill Self hosting Underwood on a recruiting trip to Oklahoma State when Self was playing there in the early 1980s.
“Thank God for Oklahoma State, Brad is a much better coach than he was a player,” Self said, smiling. “He was actually a guy I hoped that we could sign because I didn’t think (he) would take away many minutes.”
Sitting side-by-side at Big 12 Media Day in the Sprint Center, Jordan Woodard and Khadeem Lattin exuded different vibes on Tuesday afternoon.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Woodard is soft-spoken and gets to the point. Lattin, meanwhile, seems to concentrate on entertaining with every answer.
Together, they will provide an important nucleus as Oklahoma basketball advances to the post-Buddy era. Actually, it’s the Buddy Hield-Isaiah Cousins-Ryan Spangler trio that is needs to be replaced.
“I’m pretty excited,” a smiling Lattin said. “I’m excited about the new roles that we all have and how we are going to shock people.
“Buddy, Isaiah and Ryan left a culture of work, work, work. We’ve done a pretty good job of carrying that culture over. Our freshmen fell right in line with that.”
Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger has been impressed with the preseason work from the pair, who started all 37 games during last year’s Final Four run.
“They’ve done extremely well. They are two veteran guys. Two smart guys,” Kruger said. “They know that we have a young team and the significance of them stepping forward with not only the leadership vocally, but by example offensively, defensively and doing all the things on the floor that leaders need to do.”
Texas men's basketball coach Shaka Smart has a good idea of what he has in 6-11 freshman Jarrett Allen.
Smart has also decided where to play him and how to use him.
"He's a phenomenal player, and he's only getting better and better," Smart said when asked about the top 50 national recruit at the Big 12 men's basketball media days Tuesday. "He's a rare blend of a guy that is very, very long and athletic and has great size. But also has very good touch around the basket and just has some great natural instincts.
"So for us, he's going to make a big impact right away."
Smart said he expects to use Allen, who has been slowed by a hamstring injury, as a power forward alongside 6-8, 275-pound Shaquille Cleare.
"Those two will play a lot together," Smart said.
…Baylor coach Scott Drew was asked about the lessons learned from two consecutive first-round exits in the NCAA tournament.
The Bears were beaten 79-75 by Yale last season and stunned 57-56 by Georgia State in 2015.
"Well, we were hoping after the first loss we'd learn the lesson for the second one," Drew said. "That's the beauty of March. We've gone to two Elite Eights and one Sweet Sixteen so we've had a lot of success in postseason. And we've also lost in the first round the last two years. ...
"If you take 18- to 22-year-olds and put them out there for 40 minutes, anything can happen."
Chris Beard took over at Texas Tech last April, less than three weeks after taking the UNLV job. He provided a background as to why Tuesday.
“I’m from the state of Texas. I grew up in the Dallas area,” Beard said. “I’ve recruited the state my whole career. I had 10 years at Texas Tech, eight with Coach (Bob) Knight and two with Pat (Bob’s son), so it’s a place I’m very familiar with.
“But probably more important than that was the opportunity to coach in the Big 12, which in my opinion is the best league in college basketball. I got into coaching years ago to coach the best players and to play on the highest stage, and I think the Big 12 gives us the opportunity to do that.”
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby bristled at the suggestion that without Oklahoma and Texas the league is akin to the Mountain West.
Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard made that assertion during a radio interview last week, shortly after the Big 12 decided against expansion . Pollard also said the only difference between Iowa State and schools that wanted into the 10-member league is that the Cyclones are already in.
Asked about Pollard’s comments at the conference’s annual basketball media day Tuesday, Bowlsby tersely replied: “I don’t share that vantage point.”
…“Our composition process was like every other one I’ve been around. It was managed at the presidential and chancellor level,” Bowlsby said. “We shared as much information with the athletic directors in as timely a manner as we could, but the board was clear that this was going to be managed at their level. They run this league and (boards) run every league.”
What does it feel like to be caught in the social media storm known as "going viral"? To the Allens, it was like being swept up in a tidal wave. In a matter of 17 days, Grayson Allen went from a mild-mannered, Bible verse-tweeting potential All-American to the biggest villain in college basketball.
He did this to himself, purposefully tripping two opponents. First it was Louisville's Ray Spalding on Feb. 8, then Florida State's Xavier Rathan-Mayes on Feb. 25. The first incident was surprising; the second incomprehensible, a pattern of dirty behavior that no longer could be written off as a "Did he or didn't he do it intentionally?" debate. No, he did it, with his right foot out, left heel up. It turned Grayson Allen into a trending topic on Twitter, an ignominious YouTube sensation and the topic of conversation around the country.
…He is ashamed of himself. Not in that fake, must-give mea cupla kind of way, in which he simply says, "I'm sorry. I made a mistake. I take responsibility.'' Of course he's sorry and knows what he did was wrong. That's the easy part. Dealing with the embarrassment? That's what causes him to twist his fingers into pretzels and choose each word carefully and deliberately as he sits with ESPN for on- and off-camera interviews earlier this month. It's the enormity of it all that's still causing him so much distress.
…Even now, months later, Allen doesn't have an explanation for his behavior. He likens it to a moment in middle school when an opposing mom hissed "miss it" during his free throws. After he made his free throws, he couldn't help himself -- he stuck his tongue out at her as he ran back down court.
Except then he was 12.
"On a much larger scale, this was exactly the same thing,'' Allen said. "It's definitely the same feeling, the 'Did I really just do that?' Like, you've got to be kidding me. You are so much smarter than that.''
For two years, UNC-Chapel Hill and NCAA officials talked about the investigation into nearly two decades of fake classes as a joint probe, with both working together to find out if rules were broken.
That cooperative spirit wasn’t in evidence Tuesday, when newly released correspondence showed the NCAA no longer views the university as a partner in the investigation. It instead cited the university’s “willful violations” and “blatant disregard” for NCAA regulations.
On Friday, both sides are expected to be battling again before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in an unusual preliminary hearing. UNC is seeking to have a major infractions case thrown out through due-process issues. One of its arguments: The NCAA knew about the fake classes in mid-2011 while investigating other misconduct involving the football team but did not take action.
The NCAA rejected all of UNC’s arguments – and asserted that the university didn’t tell the NCAA everything it should have about the classes in 2011. The commission that accredits UNC made a similar charge in putting UNC on probation for a year in 2015.
“It is now clear that the institution did not provide the (NCAA) enforcement staff with the entire body of pertinent information at that time, and the NCAA relied to its detriment on the thoroughness of the institution’s production,” the NCAA’s enforcement staff wrote.
A recent News & Observer series, “Carolina’s Blind Side,” showed how UNC officials either downplayed the classes’ link to athletics or refused to believe something like that could happen in Chapel Hill.
UNC received the NCAA’s response a month ago. The News & Observer had been seeking its release for three weeks. During that time, UNC’s attorney had filed more legal arguments and sought to interview NCAA officials who were handling the case.
Ahead of a major vote by the NCAA, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics urged the body to pass a policy that would change the organization’s revenue distribution model and reward schools whose athletic teams meet academic expectations with revenue generated by NCAA events.
Currently, the NCAA pays out nearly 40 percent of the revenue it generates from the NCAA basketball tournament based on the success of the teams taking part. The proposal under NCAA consideration, which goes to a vote on Thursday, would shift that model to award media revenues to schools that meet certain academic criteria.
“With more money flowing into college sports, it is even more critical to ensure educational values are supported by meaningful financial rewards – and not just by words alone,” Knight Commission chairman Brit Kirwan said in a release.
The Commission announced its positions Monday during its fall meeting at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. In addition to supporting changing revenue distribution for the men’s basketball tournament, the Commission also urged College Football Playoff leaders to adopt similar academic-based revenue distribution models.
Find out the tournament history for specific seeds, teams, coaches or conferences.
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- Billy Preston took his official visit to IU this weekend in coordination with Hoosier Hysteria, and by all accounts got the full royal treatment from the Indiana faithful in attendance. Preston was joined by his mother, who had glowing reviews of Tom Crean and the IU program:
If sheer emotion was the determining factor in North (Norman, Okla.) point guard Trae Young’s recruitment he’d already be committed… Four times.
“Just the way the schools have made me feel on the visits has made me want to commit,” Young said. “Honestly, they really treat you like royalty. It’s hard to fight back those emotions when you’re there in their face and excited.”
Still, Young and other elite recruits contend that it’s imperative to resist the urge to be a prisoner of the moment.
“I definitely feel like it’s important to give every school you commit to visiting a fair look,” Westtown School (West Chester, Penn.) forward Mohamed Bamba said. “We all want to make the best possible decision so it’s important to get the most information; you get a lot of information on visits.”
Putnam Science (Queens, N.Y.) wing Hamidou Diallo agreed, but added that it’s hard to do when the visit is perfect.
“It’s pretty hard for a visit to be 10 out of 10, but when there is a visit that is a 10 out of 10 it’s pretty hard to hold back,” said Diallo, who is ranked No. 11 overall in the ESPN 100. “I’ve definitely experienced some great visits and, yeah, choosing a school is way more than just having an exciting visit but don’t get me wrong that does play a factor.”
Still, Young said that giving into that excitement could potentially put recruits in dire straits.
“You don’t want to make a decision based on emotion,” said Young, who is ranked No. 15 overall in the ESPN 100. “That’s never a good look. It might lead to you realizing in the end that you made a mistake. It’s still hard to do while you’re there on the visit, but you have to realize that you can’t just live in the now.”
Young learned from his father, Ray Young, who went through a similar recruitment process before he starred at Texas Tech from 1996-2000.
“Before I ever went on a visit my dad knew what was gonna happen so he made a rule that we would take all of the visits,” Trae said. “He said we’d be open to everyone and come back and weigh things out after everything was over.”
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