By Roy & Harv Schmidt
In our 25 years of being in the basketball scouting business, we have seen plenty of sleazy activity when it comes to recruiting. However, what the men's basketball staff at Carl Albert State College in Poteau, OK recently pulled in their attempt to lure Troynell Adams away from Farragut Career Academy absolutely takes the cake. It paints a sad picture when it comes to the public perception of junior college basketball and is yet another example of why we cover the JUCO ranks as little as possible.
For those who don't already know, the men's basketball coaching staff at Carl Albert recently made news by convincing Adams, a 6'4 class of 2009 prospect, to drop out of Farragut and enroll immediately at the Oklahoma-based junior college in order to get his GED. He then would have been eligible to play basketball at Carl Albert once the second semester began this month.
Adams was actually at Carl Albert for two weeks. However, the National Junior College Association then received word of the shady doings of the Carl Albert coaching staff and after also being besieged by phone calls from newspapers as well as the Chicago Public League Athletics Office, the coaches then agreed to send Adams home and he returned to Chicago this past weekend.
Simply put, the actions of the men's basketball coaches at Carl Albert border on criminal and they should be ashamed of themselves. Unfortunately, we can guarantee that they are not. Instead, they are simply embarrassed over the fact that they weren't able to pull a fast one. Therefore there are a couple of questions that continue to loom. The biggest of which is "what the heck were these guys thinking?" And who in their right mind would convince any high school athlete to drop out of high school and for what purpose?
While it is impossible to answer the first question, having been around the block a time or two when it comes to the recruiting business, we are willing to bet that we can accurately answer the second question. The bottom line is that when it comes to men's basketball at the junior college level, there are too many coaches who care about nothing more than winning games, to the point where they give no regard to a player's education whatsoever. Needless to say, the coaching staff at Carl Albert fits this description to a tee.
To compound the problem, junior colleges already suffer from a negative perception with respect to the quality of education (or lack thereof) that they provide to their student athletes. Before we go any further, we must emphasize that not all JUCOs are guilty of this educational negligence, as there are some that place academics ahead of athletics. The problem is that those schools are the exception rather than the rule.
In order to explain further, it is necessary to break down the demographics as they relate to junior college basketball. Schools that are members of the National Junior College Association fall into three classifications with respect to men's basketball--division 1, division 2 and division 3. Most of the JUCOs that are considered to be your annual basketball powerhouses are division 1 schools and generally speaking they are able to assemble a greater degree of talent than schools at the D2 or D3 level.
What is sad is that the division 1 JUCOs also attract a higher percentage of "problem" kids--players who have off-the court issues or severe academic shortcomings. Having been in the basketball scouting business for 25 years, we have seen far too many instances, especially at the D1 JUCO level, in which it is quite clear that basketball players are there solely to play basketball and therefore no penalties are given when they fail to attend class. The argument can even be made that for all practical purposes many JUCOs serve solely as minor league facilities for players with professional aspirations.
With all of this being said we believe that a junior college becomes a viable option for a basketball player once he has exhausted all of his educational possibilities. With Adams, however, that was not the case. In fact, prior to dropping out he was on pace to graduate from Farragut in June. Instead, he is now a full semester behind and will not be allowed to go back to Farragut. All of which once again leads us to ask why the men's basketball coaches at Carl Albert convinced Adams that his high school education at Farragut didn't matter and persuaded him to leave. Was it solely because they thought they would be able to win a few more games? If so, then that is truly pathetic.
You also wonder where Adams' parents were throughout this mess and why they didn't have a say in the matter. Which makes it quite apparent to us that the parents weren't in the picture and that the coaching staff at Carl Albert was well aware of this, which is why their actions are even more despicable. Kudos to Farragut head coach William Nelson, who says that he is not finished when it comes to dealing with this situation and to Chicago Public League boy's basketball coordinator Cyrus McGinnis, who was instrumental in bringing the matter to the attention of the National Junior College Association.
The biggest part of the problem is that because the National Junior College Association is its own governing body it is not bound to the same set of recruiting regulations that pertain to NCAA schools. The rules are much more lax when it comes to JUCOs. What this means is that junior college coaches can contact recruits virtually any time they want to and there are no "dead" periods in which recruits are off-limits, which in our opinion increases the temptation and likelihood for sleazy activity such as what we saw with Adams to occur at the JUCO level. Therefore, why not bind junior college coaches to the same rules and regulations pertaining to recruiting that govern NCAA coaches? What is really scary is that had it not been for Nelson and McGinnis, the coaches at Carl Albert may very well have gotten away with their antics.
There is no doubt that the only person who truly ended up getting hurt in this ordeal was Adams himself. At the present time, nobody really knows what the future holds in store for him with respect to his education. Will he attend another Chicago public high school? Or will he simply head to another junior college and get his GED? We do know what the future should hold in store for the men's basketball coaches at Carl Albert--they should be stripped of their jobs and never be allowed to coach again collegiately. Then again, there may be coaching positions available for them in a prison league somewhere.