Whitesburg KY

Sports in Kentucky

Offer to 8th grader should have been kept much more quiet



While we wait to see if Big Brown will remind us of Big Red …

From Parade Magazine’s 2008 four team, 40-name basketball prep stars list Kentucky’s Billy Clyde Gillispie was zero for every prospect north of Darius Miller (third team).

The one-for-30 includes Samardo Samuels (to Louisville), Greg Monroe (Georgetown), B.J. Mullens (Ohio State), Scotty Hopson (Tennessee), Chris Singleton (Florida), and Tyler Zeller (North Carolina).

Quite a surprise, Gillispie’s oh-fer considering his recruiting reputation and a roster Swiss cheese enough to offer instant minutes.

Still, Kentucky’s coach grabbed couple headlines last week. Indiana junior-to-be Dominque Ferguson announced for UK for 2010. And Gillispie got a commit from father of an eighth grader.

An eighth what?

Californian Howard Avery lobbied Gillispie who offered a scholarship.

I think Kentucky’s coach might have preferred his offer to 14-year-old Michael Avery had been kept quiet since cradle robbing is seldom looked upon kindly and frequently invites ridicule.

Gillispie should have nudged Avery-the-elder and whispered a cell phone number in his ear. One belonging to Dakotah Euton’s pop.

Instead, Howard Avery did what any father of a teeny-bopper with a full scholarship to Kentucky would do, crow from the house top.

Bad move all round.

In context of striking out with 29 of the prime rated seniors, Gillispie’s reeling in Avery appears less Big Blue Nation building than desperation.

Young Avery’s new-found fame brings to mind Indiana onetime prodigy Damon Bailey.

In 1985 IU coach Bob Knight attended a Bedford North Lawrence game and mentioned the ninth grade kid’s name to a reporter later.

Bingo. Bailey was swept into a media spotlight than spanned the next eight years. Whether he got maximum joy out of the rest of his childhood and time at Indiana University is debatable.

What is not debatable: Instant spot-light for a kid is never a good thing.

Today, Michael Avery has a college option at 14. There will be more offers. That’s the good news.

Bad news? From tip-off of his next game, Avery faces pressure to perform at an unreasonable level every night. And, opposing coaches will huddle their teams with: “let’s get more heat on the UK scholarship guy.”

While that happens, Averythe elder would do well to avoid a pitfall Dakotah Euton’s father fell into. As his 15-year-old son adjusted to being UK-bound, Euton-the-elder whined and groused at shadows. Internet ghosts who tendered their expert views (snicker) on progress of a 15-year-old.

Ready or not, Howard Avery (and Gillispie) have foisted an unnatural burden on Michael Avery.

No matter how good Avery becomes, rival college recruiters will spin Gillispie recruiting a kiddie in a sinister light with parents of other teen recruiting targets.

Epilogue. Highest hope here is Michael Avery (and Dakotah Euton) enjoy being kids as long as possible.

KASS Vision? Kentucky Association of high superintendents (KASS) recommended last month that athletic administrators at public schools adopt a silent boycott against private schools in athletics. Cherry pick which private schools to not schedule beginning this academic year.

We can be certain, can’t we, these learned men and women whose time and decisions are paid for by our tax dollars, reached their sports boycott decision long after finding solucheap tions for rising fuel costs for school bus fleets, food prices increases for cafeterias, and rising costs for facility heating bills?


The KASS proposed boycott is but a new knee-jerk twist on an old idea.

1. Athletics directors refuse to schedule another school because a student-athlete’s family or guardian circumvented the change-of-residence rule. Reality is, there will always be cheaters. Punishing the many for transgressions of the few is hardly visionary.

2. One school’s coach or coaches ‘ran up the score on us last year so we won’t schedule ’em this season.’

3. One school’s officials turned whistle blower on another’s athletics programs.

What did these incidents have in common? All involved public schools.

What good came of the boycotts? Absolutely none.

That tax-funded KASS believes disengagement (boycott) is a solution, while students look on, is a slap in the face for education. And should be an embarrassment for KASS office holders.

News & Views

NEWS. Four University of Kentucky football players were chosen in the NFLdraft last week. Three others, and counting, caught on as free agents.

VIEW. Back-to-back bowl wins and the head coach succession set, Coach Rich Brooks and staff will get into more (recruit) living rooms than before.

NEWS. Despite the clamor for play-offs, college football officials cited “unprecedented good health,” as prime reason to keep their BCS formula for determining national champions intact through 2014.

VIEW. NCAA officials have no incentive to tinker with their cash cow. Last season there were 32 bowl games. This year, 34.

Congressional Bowl in Washington, D.C. will pit Navy against an ACC opponent. St. Petersburg Bowl at Tropicana Field will match Big East against Conference USA.

Worth Repeating Dept.

UK assistant head coach Steve Ortmayer on Wesley Woodyard going undrafted last week, “… they have no idea what kind of leader he is. He’ll make every play on special teams for you. There were 100-plus guys drafted in the last three rounds that can’t carry Wesley Woodyard’s jock.”

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