One thing I’ve tried to stay away from is self-aggrandizement. However, anyone who’s read my post from three days ago (7/6/15) on the DeAndre Jordan situation, has to admit that I nailed it squarely on the noggin. For those who haven’t yet read it, I implore you to do so.
The talking heads were all wondering if there has been precedence. Hedo Turkoglu’s name was bandied about, the position taken by Antonio McDyess way back in 1999, a coaching flip-flop from Billy Donovan all surfaced (you can bet many interns must have earned some overtime) – all were brought up. The real comparison, however, would be to college recruiting and young kids giving verbal commitments.
Does what happened in the DeAndre Jordan scenario, described as continued recruiting after a prospect gives a verbal commitment, occur in college recruiting? In a word, yes. Maybe not all that often but, yes. Discounting the fact that the schools that lose out have spent a great deal of time and money recruiting the prospect, there’s the feeling that you know the kid made a mistake and that, deep down, he knows it, too. Maybe it was a case of listening to the wrong people, getting bad advice. So, you make that last ditch effort. Most of the time, you move on but, in a very special case, you’ve just put in too much effort to go down without exploring every option.
Who was it who gave him the erroneous advice in the first place? Or, in some cases, who made the decision for him? You believe, that if you could talk with him one more time, after whatever it was that turned his head. The first move is to get him away from those influences who, quite possibly, convinced him to do something that wasn’t necessarily in his best interests. (Guess whose best interests the person had in mind?)
Here’s an example of a story that made the rounds back in the late ’70s. I was coaching at Western Carolina at the time and, since it was an instance of shady recruiting, the law of averages would say that it took place in the south. Since I was not directly involved, I’ll leave out the names but suffice to say, if you’re someone who enjoys following recruiting (and are old enough to remember), you’ll probably be able to figure out the principal figures.
I recall speaking with a fellow assistant who made the following comment to me when we were talking about the subject of recruiting. “We love it when a kid verbally commits. Then, we only have one team to beat.” In this particular situation, that line of thinking got them one of the best high school players in the nation. If you need a hint, he went on to have a spectacular professional career as well.
One school had finally got this superstar’s verbal commitment. Another school (yeah, the one referred to above, who was pleased with it) “kidnapped” this kid. Actually, lured would be a better word, convincing the prospect he ought to take a ride to campus (of the “other” school). Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. Once there, the second college’s staff convinced his that he would be much better served (read into that as you will) if he switched allegiances and matriculated right where he was at that time. He signed on campus, infuriating the kid’s original school.
A verbal commitment is not binding; a signed one is. Just as the NBA has a moratorium on when a player can sign a contract, the NCAA has a designated signing period. The NBA, apparently, needs the week to look over each deal to make sure it passes several criteria, salary cap among them. Nothing prior to that date is set in stone, similar to a prospect committing to a school.
As for retaliation by the Mavericks, maybe accusing that illegal tactics were used to “change DJ’s mind,” consider the post script to the story of our “kidnappers.” The coach of the school who “had” him but, then, lost him at the eleventh hour, called the player’s “new” coach and threatened to turn in the school to the NCAA for rules violations – of which they were oh so guilty. After hearing his rival’s rant, the coach said, “When you call the NCAA to turn us in, make sure you mention where he got this nice, new van he’s driving.”
What, no honor among thieves?
Good advice for DJ would be to show remorse and admit he made a mistake (which does not mean he has to throw anybody under the bus). Ours is a most forgiving country. “I made a mistake” is a powerful statement and draws empathy from most people for the simplest of reasons. Who among us hasn’t made a decision we regretted?
Take Bill Parcells’ advice:
“When you make a mistake:
1) admit it,
2) correct it,
3) learn from it,
4) don’t dwell on it,
5) don’t repeat it.