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College basketball coaches universally oppose own proposal to change July recruiting

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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — Over the years, Peach Jam — the finals of Nike’s EYBL summer circuit — has grown into being the preeminent event during July’s Live Period.

Played in the newly-renovated Riverview Park Activities Center, Peach Jam features six courts that are packed to the gills, with college coaches on one side of the floor, fans overflowing the bleachers on the other and a track circling the building overhead that can get four- or five-deep with people if the matchup is right.

It is without question the best and most intense basketball you’ll see in July, not only because of who is watching and what scholarships are going to get earned, but because of the honor that comes with winning a Peach Jam title.

But it’s also because of situations like this: James Wiseman, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2019, has long been considered a Kentucky-lean. But he’s also currently living in Memphis, having played his junior season at East High School for Penny Hardaway. He’s at Peach Jam playing for the Bluff City Legends, a team that, up until March, when Penny was hired by Memphis, was named Team Penny.

In Wiseman’s first game on Wednesday night, when he was facing off with the No. 2 player in the class, Vernon Carey, we had this scene courtside:

That’s Penny, the current Memphis head coach, and his assistants, Mike Miller and Tony Madlock, sitting next to John Calipari, the former Memphis head coach, and his entire staff, all of them there recruiting a kid that lives in Memphis and might end up being the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft after he decides whether he will play his college ball for the Tigers or the Wildcats.

And this year’s Peach Jam may be the last time we see that.

As I reported last month, the NABC is proposing rule changes to the Condoleeza Rice-led Commission on College Basketball that will change the way that summer recruiting works. Instead of three five-day periods where coaches are allowed to be on the road, scouting and evaluating players at grassroots events around the country, the NABC is proposing a series of regional camps that thousands of players nominated by Division I coaches will attend, with the best of the best then attending a national camp. It would be run by USA Basketball, feature coaches from the G League, Division II and Division III and even NBA players leading drills and coaching teams, and — most importantly — be the only place in July where coaches are allowed to attend.

The goal?

To rid youth basketball of the stranglehold that summer coaches have on the recruitment of players around the country.

And quite frankly, it is a terrible idea, one that is a reactionary PR move being made to convince the public, people that don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, that the NCAA is trying to change after the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball.

I spent 36 minutes explaining why on Tuesday’s podcast, so I’m not going to go into the specifics again. If that’s what you’re looking for, listen below.

What I will say here is this: I am currently at Peach Jam. I have spent the last 24 hours talking with coaches from all levels of the sport about these impending changes, and I cannot find a single one that thinks these changes are a good idea.

Not a single one.

The most positive response I have heard: “I guess we’ll make it work whatever the rules are.” That was from a coach that has been in the Final Four recently.

One coach told me that this is the kind of rule that will get changed in three years when people realize how stupid it is. Back in 2003, the NCAA passed a rule that eliminated the April live period, and by 2011, the coaches had successfully argued their way back into being at “non-scholastic events” in the spring. They wanted to be at the events, because it didn’t take long for them to realize that banning themselves from the biggest events did not actually kill off those events.

Just like this rule is not going to kill off shoe company-sponsored events like the EYBL or the random, assorted AAU tournaments that pop up all over the country every July.

The coaches just won’t be in the gym.

It’s not going to stop the games from being played, it just means they’ll be paying to watch a choppy live-stream of the games that keeps getting pixelated instead of paying for a packet to sit on chairs that are too close together and bleachers that couldn’t be more uncomfortable.

And the irony of it all is that this is self-inflicted.

The NABC is the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The people proposing are the coaches themselves.

So this is my plea: One of those coaches that is for this change and that helped put this into motion needs to come out publicly and say so. We need an explanation as to why these changes are needed, and why they aren’t idiotic. Someone needs to own this.

Because as far as I can tell, no one actually in the gyms thinks this is going to help.

Washington lands second 2019 verbal commitment

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With three of its four seniors heading into the 2018-19 season being perimeter players, Washington has some holes to address in its 2019 recruiting class. Thus far Mike Hopkins and his staff have done just that, with both of the program’s commits to date being perimeter players.

The second verbal commitment was received Tuesday afternoon, as three-star combo guard Marcus Tsohonis announced that he will be a Husky. Tsohonis, a Jefferson HS (Portland, Oregon) product who played his grassroots basketball for Seattle Rotary Elite on the Nike EYBL circuit, joins four-star wing RaeQuan Battle in Washington’s 2019 class to date.

The 6-foot-4 Tsohonis, who can play on or off the ball, held offers from multiple Pac-12 programs but ultimately made the decision to make the trek north from Portland to Seattle for his collegiate career. His verbal commitment comes on the heels of an official visit to Washington that was taken this past weekend.

As noted above Washington will loose some key contributors on the perimeter after the upcoming season, with David Crisp, Mathysse Thybulle and Dominic Green all entering their final season of eligibility (big man Noah Dickerson is also a senior). The additions of Tsohonis and Battle should help Washington when it comes to filling those holes and continuing to build upon the foundation laid during Hopkins’ first season at the helm.

Four-star guard becomes LSU’s first 2019 commit

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Expected to be a factor both within the SEC and nationally this season, these are good times for the LSU men’s basketball program. Head coach Will Wade and his staff received more good news Tuesday, as 6-foot-2 combo guard James Bishop (Baltimore, Maryland/Mount St. Joseph HS) announced that he will be a Tiger next season.

Bishop, considered to be one of the top scoring guards in the class, is LSU’s first 2019 verbal commitment. Bishop’s pledge comes just over a week after his official visit to LSU, and just days after a visit to St. John’s. LSU beat out St. John’s, NC State, Marquette and VCU in the race for the Baltimore product, and given the Tigers’ current roster this is an important commitment.

LSU’s 2018 recruiting class is considered to be one of the nation’s best, with point guard Javonte Smart being one of the five-star prospects in that quintet (forwards Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams being the others). Add in sophomore Tremont Waters, who’s coming off of an outstanding freshman season, and LSU could be in a position next summer where its top two lead guards are at the very least testing the NBA draft waters.

Landing Bishop gives LSU another talented option, and some cover should the program lose either Waters or Smart — or both — in 2019.

Calhoun officially named head coach at DIII St. Joseph

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WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Jim Calhoun has officially been named the head coach at Division III University of Saint Joseph in Connecticut.

The Hall of Famer had already announced he would be taking the job and has been working for a year to establish a men’s basketball program at the small Catholic university, which was an all-women’s school until this school year.

Calhoun also has continued to serve in an advisory role at UConn, where he served as coach for 26 seasons and led the Huskies to three of their four national titles before retiring in 2012.

The 76-year-old will return to the sidelines with a career record of 873-380 when the Blue Jays open the season on Nov. 9 against William Paterson University.

That game will be played at Trinity College in Hartford, which has a gym that seats about 2,200 people, about 1,000 more than the gymnasium at Saint Joseph.

Oregon State announces addition of transfer Payton Dastrup

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Tuesday afternoon Oregon State announced that former BYU power forward Payton Dastrup has joined the program as a transfer. Dastrup, who averaged 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in just under eight minutes per game last season, has two seasons of eligibility remaining. Oregon State will file a waiver on his behalf in hopes that Dastrup will be granted immediate eligibility.

Should the waiver request be denied, Dastrup will not be eligible to play until the 2019-20 season. For Oregon State’s sake, even with Dastrup’s career numbers he would fill a need for a team that bid farewell to its best big man during the spring.

Drew Eubanks’ decision to turn pro left a noticeable hole in Oregon State’s interior rotation, with senior Gligorije Rakocevic and junior Ben Kone being the most experienced returnees. Those two combined to average 3.1 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in 2017-18, with Rakocevic averaging 10.6 minutes per game in 27 appearances off the bench.

In addition to those two the Beavers add three scholarship newcomers to the mix this season in junior college transfer Kylor Kelley and freshmen Warren Washington and Jack Wilson. Dastrup has the ability to step away from the basket, which would give Oregon State a little versatility in the interior to go along with a perimeter/wing rotation led by Tres Tinkle, Stephen Thompson Jr. and Ethan Thompson.

Oklahoma State lands third 2019 commitment

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Oklahoma State managed to add another verbal commitment in its 2019 class on Tuesday, as four-star combo guard Avery Anderson III announced via Twitter that he will play his college basketball for Mike Boynton. Anderson picked Oklahoma State over offers from Florida, LSU, TCU and Texas Tech.

Anderson is Oklahoma State’s third commitment in the class, as the Justin, Texas product joins twins Kalib and Keylan Boone. The Boone brothers made their pledge in mid-April, and all three took official visits to Stillwater this past weekend.

Anderson’s commitment is key for two reasons. First there’s the fact that he can be used at either guard spot, and that versatility will be valuable for Oklahoma State once he arrives on campus. Also, while Oklahoma State will be quite young in the front court this coming season that isn’t the case on the perimeter.

Of Oklahoma State’s current crop of guards/wings only two, freshman Isaac Likekele and redshirt sophomore Michael Weathers, are underclassmen. The Cowboys have just one senior in the group, Mike Cunningham, but getting a guard in the 2019 class was key for Boynton’s program.

At this point, all 13 of Oklahoma State’s scholarships for the 2019-20 season have been filled with Anderson’s commitment.