Friday, October 30, 2009

Recruiting News

Below, some recruiting news from around the Ivy League...

This weekend Cornell is hosting one of its top frontcourt prospects.

Dekeeba “Keeba” Battee-Aston, is a 6'8" 230 lb. Australian power forward at national power Findlay Prep School. The Las Vegas Sun reports that his mother would like him to attend an Ivy League school.

Eastland, Texas 6'9" center, Forrest Robinson will visit Texas Tech for the second time this month according to TexasHoops.com. The 2011 prospect is drawing interest from Penn and Stanford while he already holds scholarship offers from Texas Tech, Louisiana Tech, Iowa State, Centenary, North Texas and Utah.

NJHoops.com reports that 6'5" forward, John Caprio of Seton Hall Prep School in West Orange, New Jersey is hearing from Ivy and Patriot schools.

Scout.com and Rivals.com both report that 6'7" forward Josh Huestis of Great Falls, Montana, committed to Stanford over offers from Harvard, Santa Clara, Montana and Montana State. He told Scout, "I just had a feeling inside me that Stanford was the best fit for me on and off the court."

We will get back to this comment from Huestis.

As it stands now for the Crimson, two of Harvard's remaining top prospects, Majok Majok, a 6'8" forward and Pe'Shon Howard, a 6'2" guard are both expected to wait until the spring before committing to a college. Harvard is reportedly on both players' college lists. However, both prospects also reportedly require substantial improvement in their standard test scores (i.e. the SAT) if they plan on playing in the Ivy League or similar programs with stringent admissions requirements. It will be very interesting to see if these two prospects are granted admission by Harvard because the school recently received significant negative publicity and criticism concerning its lowered academic standards and recruiting tactics for basketball recruits.

But even more interesting is how the recruiting bubble has seem to burst for Harvard. This program spent the last year plus hyping their recruiting efforts, socializing with basketball journalists, using the media as a vehicle to get the Harvard name "out there" and on published lists of schools involved with certain high profile recruits.

But was this involvement real? For the last eight weeks, Harvard has watched every single one of these recruits flatly reject the Crimson as a college choice. And despite Harvard's generously offered financial aid packages to these recruits (which in many cases were akin to full scholarship offers) and extended academic admission to a school that views itself as the best education in the world, these recruits still chose to enroll elsewhere. But why?

While we applaud Harvard's efforts, the reality is that Harvard remains a long-shot to land any elite level basketball talent. It is a program without any historical success in the Ivy League (it never won a league championship). The Crimson also have virtually no fan base (a function of the culture of the studious and academically driven student body) and the school offers players subpar athletic facilities. With dozens of schools offering comparable or better educations, including the other seven Ivy League schools, and more successful basketball programs and better facilities, we just do not see Harvard's recruiting strategy as viable.

This is exactly what Josh Huestis meant when he said, "I just had a feeling inside me that Stanford was the best fit for me on and off the court." Harvard does not offer the "academic-basketball balance" that any top recruit is seeking. In short, Harvard is not Duke, Stanford or even Cornell.

The Harvard program should focus instead on solid mid major prospects and try to build a winning tradition and a fan base before it aims so high. You need to learn to walk, before you learn to run. Right now, Harvard just did a face plant two steps out of the gate.
Fielding a successful collegiate basketball team starts before any players ever step on the court. The quality of the facilities, the amount of support given by the admissions office, and the development of a student and local fan base all signal a program’s emphasis on winning... you know that Harvard’s facilities rank in the bottom half of the league... [Harvard's] Lavietes best strikes one as a high school gym, not only by its size, but also with the relative lack of buzz or excitement felt inside it... the Harvard basketball program makes little attempt to sell itself to the students and cultivate a fan base.

--The Harvard Crimson student newspaper
Below, a look at the last eleven seasons of Harvard basketball.

1998-1999-- 13-13 (7-7 Ivy, 4th place) Frank Sullivan
1999-2000-- 12-15 (7-7 Ivy, 3rd place) Frank Sullivan
2000-2001-- 14-12 (7-7 Ivy, 4th place) Frank Sullivan
2001-2002-- 14-12 (7-7 Ivy, 5th place) Frank Sullivan
2002-2003-- 12-15 (4-10 Ivy, 5th place) Frank Sullivan
2003-2004-- 4-23 (3-11 Ivy, 7th place) Frank Sullivan
2004-2005-- 12-15 (7-7 Ivy, 3rd place) Frank Sullivan
2005-2006-- 13-14 (5-9 Ivy, 6th place) Frank Sullivan
2006-2007-- 12-16 (5-9 Ivy, 6th place) Frank Sullivan

2007-2008-- 8-22 (3-11 Ivy, 6th place) Tommy Amaker
2008-2009--14-14 (6-8 Ivy, 6th place) Tommy Amaker

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am an alum and big fan of cornell and this blog (which certainly brings a wealth of information and adds to the excitement surrounding the Cornell program) but think it may be time to ease up a bit on telling harvard (or any other program) how to go about its business on recruiting. We all can think of reasons why a recruit might prefer one school over another (and I do think agree that Cornell (as well as some of the other Ivy's) have more spirited student bodies in terms of supporting athletics as compared with other Ivy's) and certainly commenting on recruiting efforts is fair game for a blog. But the number of comments on this topic now seems overdone even for a Cornell fanatic. I guess I am suggesting that you don't need to rehash your opinions about Harvard every time you mention some information regarding a recruiting target of the school. In any event should Harvard or any other school land a big recruit it probably is good for the league as a whole as the more competitive the ivy teams become the better I think it would be for all schools. I, for one, am just happy that b-ball at Cornell has finally risen, that folks want to talk about it, and that Donohue has assembled what looks to be a very solid team in the years to come.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

We appreciate your comments and your reading. However, our comments/arguments are relevant and have merit.

And we will continue to discuss "controversial issues" around the league... whether it is the lack of a conference tournament, lack of scholarships, Harvard's questionable recruiting tactics, Penn's roster overload, or even Cornell's abandonment of Barton Hall.

Again, thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

This point has been made by many observers - sometimes in posts that have survived, other times in posts that were quickly deleted.

While you are to be congratulated on a successful and informative blog, it often does not appear you are legitimately covering 'controversial issues', but rather trying to bad mouth other programs with the obvious goal of influencing recruits.

Doing so is beneath the fine institution you are trying to promote, and you do it a disservice.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

We are not involved in recruiting and accordingly, we do not attempt to influence recruits.

We are however a medium that reports on the happenings of Ivy League Basketball.

Topics such as Penn's roster size and Harvard's recruiting strategies are highly relevant issues for this site.

With respect to Harvard, much of what we have written has already been reported in the New York Times.

And our readership has not pointed to any proven inaccuracy in our reporting on those topics.

From time to time we get complaints on the selected topics, but not on the assertions contained therein.

We note that have not commented on Princeton's roster size or recruiting tactics because there is nothing to newsworthy to report. And it is Princeton that has placed itself in the best position to dethrone Cornell.

Anonymous said...

As the poster of the first comment, let me make clear that I wasn't questioning your right to post on any issues or the facts that you may have reported or to try to stir up interest on a topic - however, the repeated restating of your views and other reported details involving the Harvard program just about everytime you post any information regarding a Harvard recruiting target is what prompted me to make the comments. I guess I am just saying that after a while it seems a bit much and, in my opinion (and apparently others), takes away from all the other stuff you report on that I (and others who follow this site) like to read about. That is why I think you end up hearing from others like Anonymous at 1:38.

Anonymous said...

You neglect the fact that Harvard was exonerated of whatever you accuse Harvard of doing.

You single out Harvard for going after 'big name' recruits when there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying. If Coach Donahue can get a 'big one' like Harrison Barnes to be interested in Cornell I'd sure hope Donahue would try reeling him in.

And doesn't Cornell have the largest roster in the NCAA's presently? There's a lot of pride that Cornell's roster is deep enough to field 2 competitive Ivy teams. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Our editors discussed this point previously and we agreed that sometimes we need to restate information because not all of our readers are regular/repeat readers.

We get thousands of first time visitors each week. Some of them stay with us... others never visit again.

This means we write certain posts as if they were being written for the first time. This is part of the nature of the Blog.

Anonymous said...

Why are your editors anonymous?

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Let us get some facts straight here.

Cornell has a roster of 19 players this season which includes 8 seniors. Also, Cornell's roster features 5 transfers, none of which were recruited. They chose to transfer schools and come to Cornell. They were not plucked from the recruiting fields like high school seniors.

Columbia also has a roster of 19 this season (with 2 transfers) and with far fewer seniors than Cornell.

Penn will have a roster of 23 next season, also with fewer seniors than Cornell has this year and just 1 transfer.

Finally, Harvard was not exonerated of anything. There was no trial, no hearing, no fact finding session. There were no witnesses, no evidence presented.
Accordingly, there was no adjudication of anything and certainly no exoneration.

The Ivy League office merely chose not to pursue any action.

The Ivy office has no attorneys on staff, no investigators on staff. They aren't even equipped to handle a formal investigation and can't recall anytime in recent years where they did so.

And the Ivy League is not the governing body that Harvard should be concerned about.

The NCAA is the enforcer of NCAA rules and they never got involved in this issue... at all.

And the NCAA can still do so should it choose to pursue an investigation. There is no statute of limitations barring the NCAA from investigating even today.

Anonymous said...

So let me get something straight - Harvard isn't guilty of anything? Sure, there may be no statute of limitations but is it believable that suddenly the NCAA will start investigating Harvard? And wasn't there some sort of Ivy investigation that came up with nothing, even if in your opinion the Ivy office was ill-prepared to run one?

And there is a difference between transfers and recruited high school seniors that makes it OK for Cornell to have a larger roster? Is there some sort of NCAA or Ivy policy about this?

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

"So let me get something straight - Harvard isn't guilty of anything?"

There has been no adjudication, but numerous witnesses will come forward. Try reading the quotes in the New York Times. Those are witness statements.

"Sure, there may be no statute of limitations but is it believable that suddenly the NCAA will start investigating Harvard?"

Absolutely. The NCAA picks up investigations into conduct taking place years ago all the time. Look at Derrick Rose SAT as a perfect example.

"And wasn't there some sort of Ivy investigation that came up with nothing, even if in your opinion the Ivy office was ill-prepared to run one?"

There was an 'investigation' but not all of the key witnesses were interviewed. And further, the Ivy is not the proper governing body to even undertaken such an investigation.

"And there is a difference between transfers and recruited high school seniors that makes it OK for Cornell to have a larger roster?"

Absolutely. Transfers are older, more mature. They understand the politics of playing time and what it takes to be successful in a college classroom and on a college basketball team. They also going through a very different admissions and "recruitment" process. Transfers and high schools seniors are like comparing apples to oranges.

"Is there some sort of NCAA or Ivy policy about this?"

Cornell has a policy of welcoming transfers. In fact, Cornell encourages transfers, athletes and non-athletes.

The Ivy and NCAA have no rules precluding roster sizes nor in the number of transfers a school may welcome.

Anonymous said...

The Derrick Rose situation is different in that it is a new investigation based on new information. NCAA is not going to open a case against Harvard based on the same information the Ivy office already investigated from a couple of years ago.

And when discussing transfers you neglect the impact that transfers have on the recruited players already on the team. I count 3 seniors and 1 junior on the Cornell roster who have never received meaningful minutes and may not in the future. Those minutes may have been available had Cornell not brought in transfers. So no, I can't agree that there is a meaningful difference between conventional recruits and transfers that makes one more OK than the other.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

"The Derrick Rose situation is different in that it is a new investigation based on new information. NCAA is not going to open a case against Harvard based on the same information the Ivy office already investigated from a couple of years ago."

There would most DEFINITELY be new information if there was an actual investigation by the NCAA.

Lets get some sworn testimony from Mr. Blakeney that he did not know he was going to be a coach at Harvard when he played summer basketball with Keith Wright.

Lets get some sworn testimony from the Rosen family and Mr. Amaker.

Lets take a look at Mr. Amaker's and Mr. Blakeny's email accounts for the 6 months prior to his formal hire by Harvard. Lets see what they discussed.

Lets take a look at some phone records.

To our knowledge, the Ivy office did none of the above.

Let us get a real investigation underway led by real litigators.

"And when discussing transfers you neglect the impact that transfers have on the recruited players already on the team."

You are totally right here. There is a negative impact. HOWEVER, Cornell did not go out and create the impact by over-recruiting. The transfers came to Cornell. And when a guy from USC, Kentucky, UMass, Colorado or a seven footer from St. Bonaventure ask if they can join your team, you would be crazy to turn them down.

It is entirely different WHEN YOU INTENTIONALLY go out and recruit high schools players over the heads of kids you just brought in.

Maybe the two scenarios have the same effect (overcrowding), but only was is fully intentional and created by design.

Anonymous said...

You presume that there is a reason or likelihood for the NCAA to open a case that the Ivy League office already looked at. I'm merely stating that there isn't a precedent for it and it's not going to happen.

And you presume that transfers just show up unannounced at Cornell's doorstep, which isn't necessarily the case.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

"You presume that there is a reason or likelihood for the NCAA to open a case that the Ivy League office already looked at. I'm merely stating that there isn't a precedent for it and it's not going to happen."

There is precedent... and all it takes is a bit of encouragement to the NCAA.

We want Harvard to succeed, but to do it the right way. Unfortunately, the "Wright" way was the wrong way. And an investigation should be launched.

"And you presume that transfers just show up unannounced at Cornell's doorstep, which isn't necessarily the case."

In the case of Cornell, we've posted numerous news articles on how they arrived at Cornell. They initiated contact with Cornell, not the other way around.

Don't you know the story of Jeff Foote and Khaliq Gant?

Anonymous said...

I even know the story of Andrew Zimmermann! But the point is that recruited players can get crowded out of playing time either way. And they can enjoy their college experience anyway - as I'm pretty sure Jon Jacques and Pete Reynolds have had a very positive experience at Cornell.

Recruits of both types make their choices based on a variety of reasons and influences. And I know plenty of Ivy-bound 17 year olds capable of making mature decisions as well as immature 20 year olds so I don't buy that transfers make more mature decisions or are somewhat nobler recruits than conventional ones.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

"But the point is that recruited players can get crowded out of playing time either way. And they can enjoy their college experience anyway - as I'm pretty sure Jon Jacques and Pete Reynolds have had a very positive experience at Cornell."

Sure, every scenario is possible, but this is rarely the case. As the book, "Outside the Limelight" details--- most Harvard players in the past did not enjoy their experiences when they did not play or when the team began to lose. Some just began to focus on their lives after college.

"Recruits of both types make their choices based on a variety of reasons and influences. And I know plenty of Ivy-bound 17 year olds capable of making mature decisions as well as immature 20 year olds so I don't buy that transfers make more mature decisions or are somewhat nobler recruits than conventional ones."


Sure... but again, this is not the norm. Most high school seniors are not as mature as 20 or 21 year old junior. Everyone associated with the NBA says that one year of college is a major maturation process. Sure there is always a LeBron out there, but most kids need a year or two of college to learn a little bit.

Transfers understand the academic rigors and the politics of playing time.

Superstud high school seniors mostly don't get it.

Anonymous said...

We understand your belief that Harvard did something illegal in its recruiting practices, but Harvard was investigated by the Ivy League office and was cleared. It would be unprecedented for the NCAA to step in at this time as you imply they might. We conclude there will be no reinvestigation of Harvard by anyone, short of Amaker or Blakeney admitting guilt. Let's move on.

We don't understand your attitude about Harvard's attempt to go after big name recruits. We suspect Cornell would go after Harrison Barnes if given the opportunity. At present maybe Harvard has not been as successful as anticipated this year, but neither has Cornell.

And we fail to see how a team that presently has the largest roster of any in the NCAA can complain about the 'roster overload' of any other team. Isn't Penn just following in Cornell's footsteps? The high school recruit vs. transfer distinction makes no sense at all. They all all contribute equally to 'roster overload'.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

"We understand your belief that Harvard did something illegal in its recruiting practices, but Harvard was investigated by the Ivy League office and was cleared. It would be unprecedented for the NCAA to step in at this time as you imply they might. We conclude there will be no reinvestigation of Harvard by anyone, short of Amaker or Blakeney admitting guilt. Let's move on."

Harvard was not investigated by the NCAA and again, there is no statute of limitations. So you are just speculating and issuing wishful thinking. The fact remains, the NCAA can (and has done so in the past), commence investigations into transactions and occurrences taking place one or more years prior to the commencement of an investigation.

"We don't understand your attitude about Harvard's attempt to go after big name recruits."

Frankly, we don't care who Harvard goes after, as long as they comply with NCAA Rules. The reality is that coaches around the NCAA are laughing at them. Harvard has no winning tradition, no fans and no facilities to offer an elite recruit. Sure Harvard has its name, but so do the seven other Ivy schools, as well as other US News Top 25 schools such as Stanford, Northwestern, Vandy, Rice, Davidson, Duke, Virginia, and Cal, among others.

Bottomline is that Harvard does not have the balance between basketball and academics. They are wasting their time and making the Ivy League look inferior to Stanford... over and over and over again.

"And we fail to see how a team that presently has the largest roster of any in the NCAA can complain about the 'roster overload' of any other team....The high school recruit vs. transfer distinction makes no sense at all. They all all contribute equally to 'roster overload'."

Again, Cornell does not have the largest roster. Columbia does.

And Cornell's roster was not created by recruiting efforts.

Cornell recruited just 14 players on its current roster (5 were transfers).

Penn recruited 22 players on its roster next year. Only the 23rd was a transfer.

Cornell has an 8 person senior class this year. There is not one Ivy team in the league this year or next year with even 7 seniors.

Again, apples to oranges.

Anonymous said...

The Ivy League has already investigated and exonerated Harvard:

http://harvardmagazine.com/breaking-news/harvard-basketball-program

We still claim that at this point an NCAA investigation of the allegations that the Ivy League has already investigated would be unprecedented. It is you who wishfully think the NCAA will open an investigation.

We wonder which NCAA coaches are laughing at Tommy Amaker. Or is your statement really hyperbole?

We are well aware of Cornell's activities with respect to transfers, including its attempt to recruit a transfer that instead took his services elsewhere. The truth is that Cornell actively encourages qualified transfers to join Cornell, and is very good at it! But instead of attacking Cornell and Coach Donahue for attempting to improve Cornell's roster, or for having a very large roster, instead we commend Donahue for his efforts and wish him the best.

By the way, where are the editorials attacking Columbia for a large roster? We've seen editorials attacking Harvard and Penn, but never Columbia.

We leave with one final comment: we appreciate the Cornell Basketball Blog and its openness in allowing respectful differences of opinion to appear here.

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

Even if we concede the point that an investigation by the NCAA would be unprecedented (which we don't concede the point)...

It is still permitted to do so... and you have not countered this point because there is not authority to support the Harvard argument.

The NCAA Rules allow it. No attorney in the country would argue otherwise.

It is well known (documented with quotes) how all of Cornell's current transfers ended up at Cornell.

In EACH AND EVERY CASE, the transfer initiated contact with Cornell.

Not once was there ever and allegation by any credible source that Cornell initiated contact.

The allegation you are implying or making is unsubstantiated and not credible.

Please review our roster report tag posts. We have pointed out that Columbia's roster and Penn's are overloaded. We are not critiquing Harvard's roster size (at the moment).

Cornell's is also large... but there are 8 seniors... and 5 of the players unexpectedly landed at Cornell via transfer.

We are addressing what "we view" are apparent serious violations of NCAA rules by Harvard during 2007.

If Harvard wants to TRULY exonerate itself, it can make its email systems, including its back up tapes and offline electronic storage, available for inspection and discovery by NCAA counsel.

We'd like to see whether Kenny Blakeney was having formal or even informal discussions about his hiring at Harvard during January through June 2007 and if so, on behalf of Harvard, was he also making contact with prospective recruits such as Keith Wright and Max Kenyi during that time, a time when such contact was prohibited by NCAA rules.

From the New York Times:

"Wright said that Blakeney had visited him when in-person contact between coaches and recruits was not allowed. Kenyi said Blakeney, a former Duke player, played basketball with him “a couple of times” at his high school last June or July, which is against N.C.A.A. contact rules. Harvard announced Blakeney’s hiring on July 2, 2007. Kenyi said that at first he did not realize who Blakeney was. But the man soon turned into his lead Harvard recruiter....The visits made an impression on Kenyi."

The Cornell Basketball Blog said...

By the way sir/madame... how do you explain the Blakeny contact?