It’s generally a football issue, but the issue of de-commitments in college basketball seem to be rising as well.
Football de-commits are generally a given just due to the nature of football recruiting. A commitment really means nothing until it is reaffirmed by that fax on National Signing Day. Other football coaches do not stop recruiting your player and the recruits themselves continue to take their visits and seemingly keep all their options open. With about twenty-five scholarships changing hands every year and other schools constantly on the prey, football recruiting is a 365 day a year monster.
And for some reason, we are seeing more basketball de-commits as well. Indiana and Louisville are two teams that have been hit especially hard.
James Blackmon Jr. began Indiana’s resurgence when he gave Tom Crean and the Hoosiers a verbal commitment on Sept. 7, 2010.
Blackmon had yet to play his first high school game, but Crean & Co. took a chance, desperately needing in-state recruiting momentum and picking up a player who would wind up being ranked by just about everyone in the Top 50.
Nineteen days later, Indiana received another pledge, this time from a skilled power forward originally from Canada by the name of Trey Lyles.
Hoosier Nation rejoiced. Boy, did they ever. Two young, highly regarded players who would help turn the fortunes of a storied program that had won just 16 games over Crean’s first two seasons.
Thing is, the cupboard is now bare in Bloomington as both Blackmon and Lyles have de-committed from the Hoosiers. One player may be an anomaly, but two is a trend. What is to blame for these players changing their minds? Maybe social media?
“Without question, social media has changed recruiting,” Crean said. “Nothing stops someone from tweeting something to these kids. You’ve got to be unbelievably mature at any age to deal with Twitter and Facebook.”
Blaming Twitter for losing a player is kind of silly. I’m sure Crean has no problems when his fan base are tweeting recruits, telling them to come to Indiana. But when the players change their minds, then social media is to blame?
Maybe there are other factors at play. Maybe a certain coach told players that Indiana would be contending for national titles in 2014-15, but these recruits just watched two straight Sweet 16 exits and decided that another school may be their best chance at a NCAA ring? Or the players simply lost faith in the system. There are a number of reasons why Blackmon and Lyles de-committed, but I seriously doubt it’s because people on twitter told them to.
Rick Pitino just won a national title and has lost two commitments: Quentin Snider and JaQuan Lyle. Pitino told Jeff Goodman that he would rather not take early commitments anymore and even seemed to say that social media may have had a role in the exodus as well:
“Once a kid commits, the fan base leaves him and goes on to the next kid,” Pitino said.
While Goodman stopped just short of blaming social media for the players leaving, the coaches seem convinced. And maybe, they needed to look inwards before placing blame elsewhere. Surely it could not be other things like maybe the staff was not keeping up with the commits enough and making sure they were still solid. Or maybe the coaches were sending mixed messages to the players or trying to recruit over them? Surely social media is not the foil. Maybe the players just see better opportunity elsewhere.
It’s no secret that John Calipari and Kentucky could be the benefactor of Tom Crean’s misery. And there is no bigger polarizing figure on Twitter than Calipari among college basketball fans. You know that Kentucky’s commits are getting the same twitter and facebook messages that Blackmon, Lyles, Snider, and Lyle did.
So why has John Calipari NOT lost commitments to social media? Or Bill Self for that matter?
It’s something to ponder if you are going to say that recruits are weak-willed and swayed by social media that Kentucky’s commitments are the most scrutinized. Yet Cal has not lost a commitment. So maybe it is more than social media. Maybe it’s a lack of mixed messages from the coaching staff. Or having a staff that stays in contact.
Or maybe, just maybe, these kids found a better opportunity and went for it.