The headline on the 4th page (Welcome to Texas) last week’s Houston Chronicle says it all:
UT stages coup by luring recruit from powerhouses
Barnes beats out North Carolina, UConn for Durant
The NC State Message Boards have been having some (surprisingly) calm discussions about the topic…that invariably produces the question: “Depsite NC State’s significant advantages over Texas (conference affiliation, history/tradition, arena, and exponentially greater fan support) when was the last time that NC State beat out Carolina in a head to head battle for a recruit?”
There are two real questions there — one about Texas…and one about recruiting against Carolina. Both are fair, but one is harder to answer than the other. So, let’s ignore the easy question about what differentiates Texas’ program from NC State’s despite the larger basketball resource base available in Raleigh and discuss, “when was the last time that NC State beat out Carolina in a head to head battle for a recruit?”
It is a fair question, but not an easy one to anwer. The length of the recruiting cycle and the myriad of directions that a recruiting journey can take renders the topic too subjective to discuss on message boards (where the goal of 90% of the participants is to criticize others while taking every point to an unnatural extreme.)
Many high school players make early decisions to trim their list or to commit to a school. Would Carolina not have been interested in Cedric Simmons had he not held firm to his early commitment to the Wolfpack? If Carolina was at all talking to Simmons in the early part of the cycle, then a case could be made that we got him ‘over Carolina’.
One poster on the message board correctly clarifies the issue with a more specific question, “When was the last time State and UNC went down to the wire and State won for a recruit?”
The same poster also accurately qualifies this issue by saying, “there are a lot of guys out there that UNC was interested in — Washburn (Dean would have offered if he cleaned up his act at Laurinburg) and Damien Wilkins were two — but backed off on before the end — not necessarily because they didn’t want the kid, but because they judged their chances weren’t good. That’s good recruiting — don’t waste your time and effort on a kid you’re not going to get.”
It is this statement that yields the original question of “did we beat Carolina out” somewhat moot. The issue is NOT ‘beating Carolina’ head to head at the end for a recruit; heck, there are MORE than enough top quality recruits to go around.
* This is one of the key premises behind the argument against the ridiculous and simple belief that, “NC State can’t cobble together 8 top players from around the country because we are physically located beside Duke and Carolina” whose rosters typically contain about one player from the state of North Carolina. What does Carolina & Duke’s proximity have to do with NC State when Carolina and Duke so rarely recruit players from the state of North Carolina?
* If one truly wanted to make a case about the “impact of proximity” on NC State’s recruiting base, then they would focus on Wake Forest’s proximity to NC State. Wake Forest has managed to build a Top 10 program on the backs of NC-based names like Josh Howard, Eric Williams, and Chris Paul. How have they done this in spite of their proximity to Duke and Carolina? But, of course, it is harder for many of the apologists ‘justify’ being a lesser program than Wake Forest…so this point gets conveniently ignored in favor of a more cowardly acceptance of an attitude that we shouldn’t be as good as Carolina and Duke, anyway.
The issue is more broad and is representated by Carolina’s presence in the conversation because of their success — the issue IS — “are we consistently recruiting at a level that truly competes on the most national of stages that are defined by consistent recruiting competition with the kinds of top national programs represented by the likes of Carolina and Duke.”
Regardless of what Lee Fowler expresses as his expectation for the program when he says things like he did in March of this year, CONSISTENTLY competing with the Carolinas, Dukes, Kansases, UConns, Kentuckys, and Michigan States of the world in recruiting is one the only ways to CONSISTENTLY compete with them on the court. (You can debate if Fowler truly aims to consistently compete with tese types of programs on the court in other conversations).
To be as accurate as possible, I can tell you (with what little information has trickled out of Camp Wolfpackanamo in the past) that Carolina (supposedly) was making a late push for Scooter Sherrill and we still landed him. Why wouldn’t that count as “getting one from Carolina”?
I always thought that the Heels interest in Scooter was one of those “defensive” moves — if they had gotten Scooter, then it would have been a double impact to us by keeping him off our roster while also making him available to Carolina.
* This phenomenon is also present in college football recruiting where schools like State and Carolina battle for only about 10-15 truly top players within the boundaries of the the state every year. Getting AJ Davis, Mario Williams, DeMario Pressley, and Toney Baker is not just great for State…but serves a double impact in head to head match-ups because it also keeps these players out of Chapel Hill.
Of course, Scooter was the 2nd McD A-A that Herb got that never developed to the kind of potential expected of McD A-As…so, in hindsight, our signing of him doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. But, I think that fairness dictates that Herb Sendek gets credit for landing Scooter over Carolina.
Ultimately, the original question is actually quite insignificant. The overall issue here is not that we can occassionally get ‘one’ from Carolina…the issue is that our program needs to consistently be mentioned by larger numbers of the same caliber of recruits that mention names like Carolina and Duke…and now, of course, Texas.
Highlights from the Chronicle Article on Kevin Durant:
“Kevin Durant officially made an oral commitment to the Texas Longhorns on Thursday and immediately was hailed as arguably the highest-profile recruit in the program’s history.
Durant, a 6-9 forward from Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, picked Texas over North Carolina and Connecticut, the winners of the last two national championships. Rated as the nation’s No. 2 prospect in the class of 2006 by Scout.com, Durant is UT’s highest-profile recruit since T.J. Ford in 2000.
“No question, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that when Kevin Durant signs his papers with the University of Texas this will be one of the greatest recruiting days Texas has ever had,” said Scout recruiting analyst Dave Telep, who is based in Raleigh, N.C. “This is just as big on a basketball level as signing a Roy Williams in football”…
…Durant represents coach Rick Barnes’ highest-rated out-of-state recruit since coming to Texas in 1998. Barnes has signed seven McDonald’s All-Americans, among them are Ford, Daniel Gibson, Brad Buckman and LaMarcus Aldridge. But all except Mike Williams, a sophomore from Camden, Ala., are from Texas.
“This gives Texas street cred all over the country,” Telep said. “They can walk into the living room of any top recruit in America and say that an NBA-caliber player went from the East Coast to the University of Texas”…
…Durant is considered a possible NBA lottery pick, but whether he opts to skip college will be impacted by whether the NBA implements a proposed age limit for first-year players. Durant does not turn 17 until September.
Barnes has enjoyed a stretch of recruiting success in recent years. In 2004, UT’s recruiting class, led by Gibson and Aldridge, was considered among the best in the nation. The Longhorns signed guard C.J. Miles of Dallas last November, but he is projected as a possible first-round pick and reportedly is leaning toward turning pro. The Longhorns also are in the running for several of the other top players in the country, including 6-9 forward Darrell Arthur of Dallas South Oak Cliff.”