Summer is baseball time, right? In Kentucky … maybe.
July is basketball camps too, South Georgia to central Ohio to Louisville to Princeton, New Jersey. Wherever shoe companies give away sneakers it’s showtime for 14-15-16-17 year-olds aiming to be part of the next wave of gonna-be-the-best.
July is when college coaches show up to accomplish two things.
1. Make sure the who’s who sees me wearing my school shirt, “Hey kid! Look over here. I’m here to see ya.”
2. Get a first look at undiscovered nuggets like Kentucky ninth graders Desmond Dorsey, Josh Forest, Josh Stroud and sophomore Robbie Stenzel. Look ’em up.
The intriguing news for UK and Louisville fans out of last week’s Kentucky HoopsFest: Names of both schools are on shopping lists for top 25 prospects like no time since Pitino’s Unforgettables (1992).
New UK roster possibles – center Daniel Orton, shooting guard Terrance Boyd, and point guard John Wall.
With Louisville on the lists of every prospect this side of Seattle, Rick Pitino appears ready to cherry-pick whoever he wants.
Yet, Kentucky fans must be encouraged also with indications Billy Clyde Gillispie is poised to pick and choose from what looks to be a star-studded crop of juniors and seniors.
As fuel prices climb, Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae gasp for financial relief, and ball players hit .220 and expect pay hikes, a glint of sanity came last week.
University of Louisville President Dr. James Ramsey received a glowing performance evaluation then declined a pay raise and bonus because, he told the Courier Journal, “Today’s not really about bonuses and salaries. It’s about moving the university forward.”
Bravo. A CEO with vision to recognize impact of hard times and gumption and PR-savvy enough to seize high ground on a slow news day.
And, the cha-ching you heard came from the UofL admissions office.
Of course, Ramsey won’t shop at the Dollar Store any time soon. His pay for fiscal 2009 is $331,918. Translation: $27,659 a month, $3,951 a week before taxes.
Left red-faced? UK and Western.
• University of Kentucky President Lee Todd said no to faculty and staff pay hikes, but yes to a $95,000 bonus from his Board of Trustees.
• At Western Kentucky University, with all due respect to progressive President Gary Ransdell, when WKU’s board went looking for a new president last time, it passed over candidate and WKU alum, James Ramsey.
News & Views
NEWS. Advocates for and against athletic competition between KHSAA-affiliated public and private high schools met in Louisville last week.
VIEW. Bravo. In the interest of kids playing high school sports, the two sides are talking … and giving kids and parents an education in Communications 101.
NEWS. Senior-to-be Jon Hood at Madisonville, who will sign with Kentucky in November, confirmed how early commitments can have negative consequences. Hood told the Lexington Herald-Leader last week he’s heard taunts, been target of trash talk and physical cheap shots. “It’s all in fun,” he said.
VIEW. No, it isn’t all in fun. To his credit, Hood is being manup. But college coaches taking upon themselves to thrust 8th, 9th, 10th graders into the limelight, ignore a kid’s right to “have fun and try to improve my skills,” is a disservice. It’s why the NABC asked members to stop recruiting children. Shameful also that a university president rubber-stamps a coach’s decision to do so.
NEWS. Billy Donovan got a commitment from a high school 10th grader recently. Lakeland, Fla., sophomore Austin Rivers wants to be a Gator.
VIEW. Florida’s coach ignored his own association (NABC) which asked its coaches to stop recruiting 15-year-olds. Donovan gambled he can re-spin his good guy image after critics move on.
Fact remains, Donovan has changed the next two years for young Rivers and his high school team. Ironically, Rivers’s nonbinding commitment is hollow because other coaches will continue recruiting him while he tries to have fun and improve his skills.
Footnote: Ironically, Donovan’s announcing Rivers’s commitment dragged Kentucky’s coach in for a cameo. Billy Clyde Gillispie is blamed by some for opening a Pandora’s Box.
NEWS. Elliott County’s Evan Faulkner, Jonathan and Ethan Ferguson played in the Kentucky Hoopsfest in Louisville last week.
VIEW. Whatever happens with Scott County eligible/ineligible appeals, when the high school season tips off Elliott County could legitimately be number one ranked in Kentucky.
Readers (Right) Write
About UK’s Rich Brooks …
Bob in Henderson, “Brooks has indeed been a good fit. I didn’t think at first he could do the job, but he proves if you give clear direction and stick with the coach and program, many schools would be more successful But sadly immediate gratification and lack of loyalty on the part of both coaches and schools, often gets in our way. I agree that promoting (Joker) Phillips was a great move for two reasons. He’s eminently qualified and ensures continuation of the program leading to more solid recruiting.”
Former Arizona signee Brandon Jennings’s decision to play in Europe made grumpy Arizona coach Lute Olson a grumpier old man.
Olson railed against the NBA to the L.A. Times, saying he won’t recruit one-and-done type prospects any more.
“It’s a situation now that if someone’s a ‘one-and-done,’ we’re not going to pursue them anymore, no way,” he said.
Comment: All those who believe Olson, please raise your hands.
And so it goes.