On the first day of the NBA Draft Combine and the morning after the NBA Draft Lottery was held, the story that made waves in college basketball circles centered on Indiana commit Romeo Langford, Rick Pitino and the brand that got Pitino fired, Adidas.
“The way they phrased it,” Pitino told The Post in regards to a meeting with a pair of Adidas officials, both of whom have been caught up in the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball, “it was whoever [shoe company] was going to pay the dad’s AAU program the most money, gets [Langford].”
And while that quote is, on the surface, scandalous and the stuff that headlines are made of, it’s not the one that matters the most here.
“That’s the way that world works,” Pitino said. “Which is completely legal, by the way.”
The Post’s story is worth diving into because it’s a really good look into how this process happens, but the machinations there are not in any way unique. Elite prospects with the potential to one day sell millions of sneakers are identified at a young age. Shoe companies invest a relatively small amount of money into those players, often times paying sponsorships in the low six-figures for someone associated with that prospect to run an AAU program featuring that player, in the hopes of eventually securing that player’s signature when they turn pro and can officially sign an endorsement deal.
In this case, Adidas got involved early, likely in part due to the fact that Langford is an Indiana native that always was a solid bet to end up a Hoosier, wearing the three stripes on his cream and crimson jersey. They could keep him wearing their gear throughout his high school and AAU days before enrolling in college and, hopefully, leading Indiana to a top 25 season and an NCAA tournament run while decked out in Hardens and Yeezys.
And this is hardly the first time something like this has happened.
Marcus Bagley III’s father ran his AAU program on Nike’s EYBL circuit. Josh Jackson’s mother ran his AAU program on Under Armour’s UAA circuit. Jackson has since signed with UA.
As one source plugged into how shoe companies operate put it, “This is the way it works.” Another source added that nothing in the story was surprising or all that unique.
And it’s all above board in the eyes of the NCAA, further evidence that amateurism is a farcical rule that is only in place to keep the money flowing to the people in power.
Nothing like news in May of a national championship rematch to get you excited about November.
Michigan and Villanova, which battled for the NCAA tournament title in March, headline the Big East and Big Ten matchups of the Gavitt Games, which were announced Tuesday.
‘Nova bested the Wolverines, 79-62, in San Antonio to win its second national championship in three years. The Wildcats will be without Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson, both of whom are pursuing NBA careers, but they’re still a national-title contender in 2019 as the No. 2 team in our preseason top 25. Michigan landed just outside at No. 26.
Five-star prospect Romeo Langford’s decision to commit to Indiana last week was a major development for Archie Miller’s program for multiple reasons. Of course there’s Langford’s talent, but the New Albany, Indiana product is also the first elite, in-state recruit of the Miller era in Bloomington.
Langford’s been a big deal in New Albany for quite some time now, and before he makes the move to Bloomington his hometown will honor him. According to Justin Sayers of the Louisville Courier-Journal, the city of New Albany is naming a soon-to-be constructed basketball court at Kevin Hammermsith Memorial Park in Langford’s honor.
Groundbreaking is scheduled to take place at 6:00 PM local time Friday, with the project expected to be completed by July 14.
In the eyes of some this honor may appear to be a bit too much for a person of Langford’s age. But given everything he accomplished at New Albany High School, finishing his career ranked fourth all-time in Indiana high school history with 3,002 points and leading his alma mater to an Indiana 4A state title in 2016, it makes sense. And that’s just touching on what Langford has achieved on the court.
By many accounts Langford has been a positive influence in the New Albany community, and given the turnout for his announcement that he would attend Indiana it’s clear that he means a great deal to the people who have watched him grow up. Given his status a lot will be expected of Langford upon his arrival at IU, but this is something he dealt with throughout much of his high school career.
Dedicating a court to Langford will be quite the sendoff for the locals to give their native son, and he’ll look to have a similar impact upon his arrival in Bloomington.
NEW FACES, NEW PLACES: Which college hoops hires are set up for success … and failure?
Beginning in September and running up until November 10th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.
Making a coaching hire is more than just winning the press conference.
A jolt of energy and excitement into a program is nice, but ultimately fit between coach and program – from personality to style to recruiting footprint – will decide which programs flourish and which flounder.
Here are five coaches and programs that are set up to succeed with their new arraignment …
… and five that look destined for trouble.
1. ARCHIE MILLER, Indiana: Plenty of programs came calling for Archie Miller over the years as he piled up wins and NCAA tournament bids, but none could. Until Indiana came open, offering more than $3 million and the chance to take the reigns of one of the most tradition-rich programs in the history of college basketball. The Hoosiers and Miller are a match that seems destined to work.
The Hoosiers aren’t likely to contend atop the Big Ten this year as the roster just isn’t built for instant success, if it were, Tom Crean would likely still be installed in Bloomington, but this ranking is based on instant success. Indiana was only able to get Miller to leave Dayton because it offers one of college basketball’s best jobs, and Indiana only wanted Miller because he’s proven to be one of the sport’s best young coaches.
The only question is if Miller can recruit at a level commensurate to his new position, something he didn’t have to do in Dayton. Given his reputation and the resources available to him at Indiana, that seems like a sure bet.
2. CHRIS HOLTMANN, Ohio State: Holtmann is in much the same situation as Miller, taking over at an accomplished program with a huge athletic department budget but a slump success recently. Holtmann took over the Butler program in 2014 amid difficult circumstances when Brandon Miller took a medical leave of absence, and keep the program humming along, going to three-straight NCAA tournaments as a single-digit seed as the Bulldogs navigated their transition to the Big East.
Ohio State has missed back-to-back NCAA tournaments, but Thad Matta’s program has proven that winning at an elite level in Columbus can be done with regularity and over an extended period of time. The Buckeyes’ recruiting footprint has a plethora of talented players living within it, and it’s one Holtmann is well acquainted with having spent nearly his entire career in the midwest. This pairing is a natural fit, and one that should pay major dividends.
3. BRAD UNDERWOOD, Illinois: The third Big Ten coach on here, but Underwood is another proven winner with the chops to get it done. Underwood maxed out Oklahoma State in his lone season in Stillwater, getting Jawun Evans into the NBA draft and helping Jeffrey Carroll blossom into an all-Big 12 player. He’s shown he can develop players at a high level and has the Xs-and-Os acumen to accumulate a 109-27 in his four years as a head coach.
Underwood has already experienced the good and the bad of recruiting his new home state as the Illini pulled five-star point guard Ayo Dosunmo from Chicago, but that reportedly caused their recruitment of another Chicago kid, four-star wing Talen Horton-Tucker, to go sideways. Whatever the truth about what really happened, it illustrates the potential politics and landmines that exist when recruiting the Windy City. If Underwood can do that, and getting Dosunmu suggests that he and his staff can to at least some degree, Champaign could become a destination and Illinois could regain its place among Big Ten contenders. That is, of course, assuming that there’s no carryover to Underwood from his former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans’ arrest by the FBI last month.
4. MIKE RHOADES, VCU: VCU has proven itself to be one of the best jobs outside of a Power 5 conference over the last decade-plus. Jeff Capel and Anthony Grant had enough sucess to jump to a high-major job after four and three seasons, respectively, and Shaka Smart became one of the most sought-after coaches in the country after just a pair of seasons before jumping to resource-rich and expectation-light Texas after five-straight NCAA tournaments. Most recently, Will Wade turned VCU into LSU after just a pair of seasons.
Rhoades seems primed to take advantage of the situation, not in that he’ll look to make a jump from Richmond to a Power 5, but to use the foundation already in place to keep VCU atop the Atlantic 10 and relevant nationally. He’s a former Smart assistant that spent a decade coaching in the DIvision III ranks. Seemingly any coach VCU hires is set up for success, but Rhoades appears to be a seamless fit.
5. CUONZO MARTIN, Missouri: Missouri may have slid into mediocrity – and under Kim Anderson well past it – for much of the past decade, but the Tigers’ job is one with plenty of potential. And Martin looks poised to make the most of his fourth head coaching job in 10 years by taking the shortcut to success that was hiring Michael Porter, Sr., which landed him a potential No. 1 draft pick in Michael Porter, Jr. and five-star Center Jontay Porter. Plus Missouri landed Jeremiah Tilmon, an Illinois defection.
Landing the highly-talented sons of an assistant coach may not be the most sustainable way to success, but it’s a heck of a jump start. If you can get the two Porter brothers, you do it and figure out the future later. Nothing breeds success like success, and Martin’s strategy should bring some immediately to Columbia.
1. MIKE BOYNTON, Oklahoma State: Brad Underwood bounced from Oklahoma State after feeling like the Sooners were skimping on him financially, declining to give him a significant raise from the below-market $1 million salary after taking the Cowboys to the NCAA tournament. In response…Oklahoma State apparently went the fiscally conservative route of simply elevating Boynton from assistant to the head job for a similar amount of money.
Whether or not Boynton is the man for the job is hard to say, but the perspective here is that Oklahoma State just went the cheap route, declining to invest in its hoops program. That’s a tough way to start a tenure, but making it even more difficult is that outside Jeff Carroll, there’s not a ton of talent in Stillwater. Oh, then there’s the small matter of an FBI investigation into corruption that has ensnared Oklahoma State and resulted in the firing of assistant Lamont Evans. Not ideal for anyone’s first head coaching gig.
2. WYKING JONES, California: Jones’ circumstances aren’t that far off from Boynton’s. They both succeeded coaches who found themselves on the better end of these two lists, and both are going to be making $1 million a year (a relatively small number by Power 5 standards) to try to improve a basketball situation that is less than ideal. Again, tough spot to start your head coaching career.
Jones’ roster is almost completely turning over, making this pretty much a full-scale rebuild. The Bears will need some serious recruiting wins in the next year or two for Jones to get things pointed in the right direction.
3. BRIAN DUTCHER, San Diego State: Dutcher was right by Steve Fisher’s side for all 18 years that Fisher was in southern California, turning the Aztecs into a relevant program. SDSU went to six-straight NCAA tournaments from 2010-15, including get a two-seed in 2011.
Fisher’s retirement, though, comes on the heels of back-to-back NCAA tournament misses in which the Aztecs fell from 28 wins to 19. Dutcher certainly has the resume that warrants getting this job, but it’s also fair to wonder if the program needs a breath of fresh air.
4. PATRICK EWING, Georgetown: Ewing is very respected in coaching circles after spending his post-playing career under some of the top NBA minds, but returning Georgetown back to prominence will take a lot more than being a bright basketball thinker. Ewing has never recruited, and that will be his biggest hurdle in trying to get the Hoyas in the mix both in the Big East.
There’s also the strangeness of the whole situation, which is really what makes this a tough spot more than anything. Ewing is succeeding John Thompson III, the son of the man, John Thompson II, who turned Georgetown into a national power and coached Ewing as a Hoya. That’s awkward. It’s even more awkward if Georgetown doesn’t win big relatively quickly. There’s reason for optimism (though pulling out of the PK-80 would suggest maybe not this year), but there’s a ton of expectation on an unproven head coach who has to navigate some tricky politics. It is D.C., after all.
5. BRIAN GREGORY, South Florida: Gregory turned a solid run at Dayton into a gig at Georgia Tech, where he missed the NCAA tournament each year and just twice was over .500. It’s difficult to see how he’ll have much better luck with the Bulls. The AAC got stronger this year with the inclusion of Wichita State while Houston and SMU continue to build their programs to compete with the historical powers like Memphis and UConn, who are both down now but seem unlikely to stay that way. South Florida hasn’t been above .500 since Stan Heath’s last year in 2012, and the program doesn’t appear set up to succeed any time soon.
He will be brought back slowly, as he’ll be one of the key pieces of the IU defense and a leader in the locker room as a fifth-year senior this season.
Rising junior forward Juwan Morgan described Hartman’s absence last season to reporters on Tuesday, per the Indy Star: “That annoying guy that you always hated hearing, but you knew he was right. “That’s what we always missed last year.”
During the 2015-16 season, the 6-foot-7 Hartman started 24 of 35 games for the Hoosiers, averaging 5.0 points and 3.1 rebounds for a team that eventually reached the Sweet 16.
Indiana finished with an 18-16 (7-11 Big Ten) record this past season. Archie Miller replaced Tom Crean as head coach in late March.
Jim Boeheim calls Tom Crean ‘an idiot’ for draft night commentary
During last Thursday’s NBA Draft, Syracuse sophomore forward Tyler Lydon was taken No. 24 overall by the Utah Jazz; his draft rights were later traded to the Denver Nuggets.
On The Vertical’s livestream coverage of the draft, former Indiana head coach Tom Crean was not overly impressed with the 6-foot-8 shooter. Lydon connected on 40 percent from three in both seasons with the Orange and demonstrated to be a solid rim protector, although, that could be attributed to playing in a 2-3 zone. Denver acquired Lydon under the belief that he could be a modern-day stretch four.
Crean not only questioned Lydon’s defense, he also was critical of his shooting. He ended his analysis by asking, “And who [is he] going to separate from?” While he did question his shooting itself — again a 40-percent career 3-point shooter — he did seem to have concerns with other areas of his offensive game, such as being asked to create for himself, which is fair to question.
That analysis didn’t sit well with Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, who lambasted Crean’s comments.
“He’s an idiot,” Boeheim told reporters on Thursday, according to Chris Carlson of Syracuse.com. “He said he’s not a good shooter. Freshman, sophomore year he shoots 40 percent from 3. That’s pretty good for a young player. I think he had the best shooting statistics at the combine, I think, of all the big guys. He shoots it. That’s what he does. It just shows the ignorance and not doing the work, the research, the background check. He’s athletic and can do a lot of other things but he can really shoot.”
Despite being relieved of his head coaching duties in March, Crean had two former players have their names called on Thursday night in Brooklyn. The Toronto Raptors selected to OG Anunoby one spot ahead of Lydon. Thomas Bryant was drafted No. 42 overall by the Jazz but was later traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.