Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why So Early?

With Recee' Caldwell committing to Baylor, the national message boards are in high gear questioning the reasoning behind the early commitment. The question is why so early? The true question is, why not?

- Coach- The theory is that a rising sophomore can not be sure that a coach will still be there three years from now. Does anyone really doubt that Kim Mulkey will be at Baylor in three years? A seven figure annual salary, a highly successful program, and a knack for recruiting great talent are all valid reasons why the coaching situation is stable. Add to that the speculation that she turned down a large sum of money to coach at LSU, a dream job, recently.

- Players- The argument is that Caldwell does not know the players that she will play with, thus, made an uninformed decision. This is not entirely true. Top 100 kids Kristina Higgins, McKenzie Calvert, Chardonae Fuqua, and Destiny Brown are slated to be on campus at that time. With Caldwell, Baylor has at least five ESPN Top 100 players. Add to that a much underrated Sune Agbuke and the likelihood of Baylor landing additional Top 100 kids, and an unbiased mind would reason that Caldwell "knew" the caliber of players she would be eventually playing with.

- Recruited Over/Competition- Texas A&M has celebrated its first championship by signing six ESPN Top 60 players in 2012. Add Top 25 2011 pg in Alexia Standish and Top 25 2012 guard in Tori Scott. In 2013 and 2014, A&M is going to have 8 guards ranked in the Top 60 in the nation, all fighting for 3 spots on the floor.

Tennessee celebrated a very successful season and the emergence of SA scoring great Meighan Simmons with the signing of another McDonalds All-American guard and USA gold medalist, Ariel Massengale. How did they celebrate the signing of Massengale, they got a commitment from Adraya Carter, Top 20 guard in the class of 2012. Simmons will then play with Kaela Davis, arguably the best player in the class of 2013. Carter and Davis will surely be McDonald's All-Americans. Tenessee will have a back court of at least 4 McDonald All-Americans in 2013 in Simmons, Massengale, Carter and Davis. Many say that they are the leaders for the 2012 sensation, Alexis "The Great" Jones. The point is, EVERY perennial top 10 program will relaod every year with high caliber kids.

In regards to competition, Caldwell runs from no one. In fact, at still 14 years old, she is often put in situations that would overwhelm many. When her SA Finest team faced a Cal Sparks Gold team earlier this summer, 50 or so college coaches showed up to see her face fellow USA teammate and childhood friend, Jordin Canada. What they saw was Caldwell give more than she took while having 4 different BCS guards hound her the entire game. Canada's team has three Top 15 kids(Canada, Lajahna Drummer, Erica McCall) two USA Basketball team members(McCall,Canada) and a total of FIVE ESPN Hoopgurlz Top 100 kids(Canada,Drummer, McCall, Kari Kover, Emoni Jackson). It was the same last year in high school where Caldwell faced teams like Reagan, which featured three Division 1 players in Sabrina Berry, Moriah Mack and Wendy Knight.

Many "top" kids on club teams never face double teams due to them playing with other "top" kids. Jordin Canada can not be double teamed with the sharp shooting Kari Korver hitting NBA range bombs with ease. Post to post help on Erica McCall would be silly with the 6"2 jumping bean, Lahjana Drummer on the opposite block. Caldwell has faced double teams from Top 100 kids for the last two summers and met the challenge.

- Arranged Marriage- I heard a coach compare Caldwell's decision to the olden days of arranged marriages. The argument is that like wives of old, Caldwell did not know what other opportunities she had because she was denied the opportunity to make an educated(liberated) choice. This insinuates that she did not get a chance to "date" others.

The truth is Caldwell has taken unofficial visits to half a dozen schools. She had over 2 dozen offers. She had an offer from at least one school in every BCS conference. She visited finalists Texas, Texas A&M and UTSA at least twice, each. She has spoken with and was being recruited by FOUR national championship coaches and a two time WNBA championship coach. Her first college letter came as a 11 year old 6th grader and her first offer came as a 12 year old 7th grader. BEFORE her first high school game, a dozen or so schools were in her high school PE class, watching her run sprints.

Also consider that her father was a college basketball player who went through and understands the recruiting process. He gets sound advise from one of his mentors, a current WNBA asst coach. He also consults high school coaches, college coaches, and some of the most influential people in club basketball. Having trained dozens of college basketball players, boys and girls, he has helped many others through the same process.

All of this indicates that she did not make a decision based on being naively betrothed to a school. If an aspiring young physician pledges to attend Harvard Medical School while still in high school, she/he is applauded. In basketball, these young focused players are vilified.

-Transfers- "All these early commitments are the reason for transfers", is how the story goes. Maybe so, but here is food for thought.

-The divorce rate for so-called mature adults is a whopping 50%!!!! Applying the early commitment theory, the majority of these divorcees must surely have gotten engaged in their early teens and made uninformed decisions!

-According to this MSNBC article, 50% of college students change majors, with many doing so more than once.

-While the transfer rate of basketball is at an all-time high, is it at 33%? If not, female basketball players are ahead of regular students according to this New York Times Article.

- According to this 2010 CNN report, 60% of working Americans planned to switch jobs. In a study by Man Power employment agency, 84% of working adults planned on switching jobs in 2011! "A lot of people will be looking because they're disappointed with their current jobs," said Paul Bernard, a career management advisor and veteran executive coach.

These alarming stats can be dismissed as comparing apples and oranges. But it is? If a great number of adults are changing spouses, marital statuses and careers, how can we expect basketball players to buck a NATIONAL practice that cuts across all racial, professional, educational, gender and age categories? If 1 in 3 students eventually transfer schools, how can we realistically expect basketball players to be different.

Early basketball commitments can not be solely blamed for the high transfer rates when a great portion of society "transfers" often.

-Pressure- Caldwell was supposedly "pressured" into her decision. Am I missing something; what pressure? Coach Mulkey did not turn into Don Corleone and make Caldwell an offer she could not refuse. She could refuse. In fact, she did refuse to commit last fall when she was initially offered a scholarship by Baylor. She refused to say yes to the other schools that offered her. There was no pressure involved.

The truth of the matter is that Coach Mulkey advised the Caldwell family to take as many unofficial visits as possible, to other schools, in order to get a better understanding of what was out there. FACT! Another fact, Caldwell informed Coach Mulkey that she gave her word to another school that she would visit in June. Coach Mulkey advised Caldwell to honor her word and visit the rival Big 12 school. That does not sound like pressure to me. Choosing between some of the top schools in the country for an opportunity to play a game that she loves is not pressure. It is a privilege that she earned. Salud!!!