Was It Fair or Foul for Seton Hall to Hire Isaiah Whitehead's High School Coach?
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Seton Hall got a verbal commitment from local product Isaiah Whitehead on Thursday, per Justin Tasch of The New York Daily News. That has turned some heads because Seton Hall is Seton Hall, a program without an NCAA tournament bid since 2006, and Whitehead is the 14th-ranked player in the class of 2014, according to Rivals.com.
But what turned even more heads is what's believed to be the tactic for landing Whitehead. Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, according to sources of The New York Post, is expected to hire Whitehead's high school coach, Dwayne "Tiny" Morgan.
The knee-jerk response is that's dirty.
Willard, you could say, stooped to a low level to get Whitehead. And maybe he did.
But the NCAA has not outlawed such a practice, and Willard is coaching for his career. He needs players to turn Seton Hall, a once proud program, back into a winner. And Whitehead is a player.
So is it really dirty? Or is it good business?
Morton made it known last June that he wanted to be a Division-I assistant when St. John's assistant Mike Dunlap left to be the head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats.
It was no secret that Morton wanted to be a D-1 assistant, and you could say he has some credentials past coaching Whitehead.
For 16 seasons, Morton has been the head coach at Lincoln High in Coney Island, one of the most well-known programs on the East Coast because it's produced players like Sebastian Telfair and Lance Stephenson. Morton was also the director of the AAU Juice All-Stars.
It's not a stretch to say Morton could help Seton Hall in recruiting. It's not a stretch to say Morton could bring some value to the Seton Hall program.
Maybe it is a stretch to say that Morton would never been in this position without Whitehead, Telfair or Stephenson.
Should hiring a recruit's high school coach be against NCAA rules?
Coaching is a business, and it's difficult to make a move upward. And who you know—or who you coach—can be as valuable as anything else.
Morton has value because of who he has coached and the relationships he has developed in the basketball community.
Every coaching staff has room for X and O guys and for recruiters. You have to find a healthy blend. Who are we to say that Morton cannot be a valuable asset?
He believed he could be. He went out of his way to let St. John's know he was interested last year. And St. John's just so happens to be the school that finished as runner-up for Whitehead.
Yes, Morton played the game. So did Willard. And they did so, as far as we know, within the rules.
It could blow up in their faces or it could turn into a relationship that benefits all parties involved.
It's a risk, yes. Good business usually is.
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