On a blog dedicated to south and central Texas girls basketball, I must talk about a boy. Better yet, a young man. Wagner High School standout Jordan Clarkson, has committed to play basketball at Tulsa next year. The reason that this commitment warrants mention on a girls basketball blog is that Clarkson chose Tulsa over Texas A&M. No disrespect to all the Aggie fans out there but I applaud the decision. The Clarkson family considered Fit over Fancy.
Elite basketball prospects are also elite dreamers. Thousands of hours working on their game has seasoned their minds to always believe that they"CAN". They envision hitting countless game winners at the last second while representing a particular university. Rarely is the university in the fantasy not a major program. TV, print media, Internet, and sports memorabilia ingrain certain schools into the brains of these young dreamers. Vince Young's Rose Bowl exploits spawned a legion of future would be Longhorns. AC Law is built similar to Clarkson and I am sure that he has, at some point, envisioned himself playing in an Aggie uniform in one of the best conferences in the nation. As these dreams become reality and schools like Texas A&M are sitting on a prospects couch, making its pitch on why they are the latest greatest, it is a tough decision to use intelligence over the emotional appeal of playing "in the big time".
Can Clarkson thrive in the Big 12 and earn considerable minutes? Why not? His skill set is advanced and his upside is tremendous. The scoring machine from Wagner has yet to hit the weight room. His frame can use 10-15 pounds of muscle, which would make his already capable game tough to guard. Obviously Texas A&M felt the same way as they pursued him heavily. However, Jordan understands that "All that glitters ain't Gold".
Tulsa is led by Doug Wojcik. Wojcik is a hot name on the coaching scene and was an instrumental assistant for Michigan St. and North Carolina. Wojcik let the Clarkson family know that Jordan is his number one priority. Besides recruiting him for a long time, Wojcik brought both his assistant coaches with him on the first day allowed for home visits, to show him that he was a priority. Tulsa also made sure to bring up the facts. They have done a tremendous job with another San Antonio product, Ben Uzoh. Uzoh has shined in the Tulsa system on his way to earning second team all C-USA. The guard from Warren has started in all but one game as a player at Tulsa with a career average of 13 ppg. Uzoh has had the opportunity to play against big time schools Texas A&M(16 points in a win),Oklahoma St. (20 points in a loss), and Illionios(11 points in a low scoring close close). Uzoh and Tulsa have also been able to play against the highly ranked Memphis Tigers in conference play. The recent success at Tulsa earned the Hurricanes a NCAA berth in 2009.
A number of different factors are involved with the decision making process, but lets look at some local girls and their recent basketball choices.
A local Big chose to play in the highly esteemed Big 12 as a freshman in 2009. The Big 12 is an alluring destination for local ball players. The talented post player saw very little minutes as a true freshman, playing in 6 games and earning and average of 2 minute per game. A fellow Big chose to attend the same institution and saw a little more success by playing in 28 games and averaging 10 minutes a game. The school that they chose had a record under .500 overall and won less than a quarter of its games in the competitive Big 12. Needless to say, the school did not play into the Big dance.
Now compare that to the success that UTSA had last year. The Lady Roadrunners have made consecutive trips to the Big Dance, while almost shocking the world by upsetting Baylor in the first round last year. If the above mentioned local kids, chose their school on having the opportunity to play extensive minutes and win, UTSA would have been the better choice. I know that I do not have all the facts but if judged on wins and playing time, hindsight shows that the local Roadrunners were a great option.
One of the problems that local kids and parents have when choosing a school is that they become infatuated with the name. We all see the big schools on TV and it is difficult to say no when they come calling. However, big does not always mean better. McDonalds is a big burger place. All of our kids love the golden arches. They are programed to do so through clever marketing and constant exposure. But, we learn as we get older and our taste buds get wiser that a good burger from Chester's or Chris Madrids put Mickie D's to shame. Mom and Pop shops provide some advantages that franchises can not. Good for the Clarkson family for not letting others and their agendas prevent them from making a decision based on Wisdom and Fit!