Ninty seven percent of upper-class high school students receive their college acceptance letters and then decide what program fits them to best further their academic career.
When they do decide on their education path, there's no press conference, cameras, "live news feed", trending topic on Twitter, or an entire fan base fawning over the decision.
Best case scenario, your parents take you to Olive Garden to celebrate and you have to sit next to Grandma.
For the other 2.99 percent or so that are lucky enough to play a college sport, their college decision is met with little fan fare as well. The tennis, soccer, volleyball, baseball players and even women athletes that are offered scholarships receive little signing day publicity outside of their family, friends, teammates, and coaches support.
Perhaps the school newspaper or local newspaper will be there to cover the event, but the rest of the nation won't be holding it's collective breath for the John Hancock.
There are so many issues with the recruitment of high school athletes such as a 13-year old quarterback verbally committing to USC, but for this rant I will stick to the over-hyped athletes that abuse their God-given talent for over-hyped media coverage.
Only a select few of prospective basketball and football recruits hold coaches, Universities, and fans hostage as they go through their college decision process.
Most of the top 100 recruits give a verbal commitment to a school after visiting the campus, speaking with administration and coaches, in order to decide the best fit for their athletic and academic future.
However, understandably, high school seniors with different career paths may not choose a University until the summer before their freshman year. Thankfully, we are not subjected to the indecisiveness.
There are several media services that make a living off of prep athletes. Sites including Rivals.com and Scout.com follow amateur athletes from the time they are 12 years old, until they sign with a school.
Just go to any major University message board like KUsports.com (Kansas Jayhawks) or Peegs.com (Indiana Hoosiers) and you will see the numerous fans that live and die by the decision of a 16-18-year old KID.
The amount of 30-55 year old men that find themselves concerned with the "well-being" of a 18-year old male is almost a form of pedophilia. It's sickening.
I don't have this problem, thankfully. I couldn't care less who my favorite college team signs as incoming recruits. I trust the coaches to sign the players they think will best fit in the program and represent the University in a classy way.
Do I like seeing the signing of a 5-star recruit? Of course, but I don't get caught up if they lose out on certain recruits or care to follow the whole process in general.
I prefer to wait until they play an actual college game before I pass judgment on a given player.
I will steal Roy Williams for this, "I don't give a shit about North Carolina player rankings."
Take a look at some names over the past seven years that were ranked as top college basketball prospects according to Rivals.com , you will see a lot of familiar names, but of the #1-150, you will pass over a lot of names that do not ring a bell at first glance:
2003- Among the correct ones in this class: LeBron James No. 1, Luol Deng No. 2, Chris Paul No. 14 (obviously better than that), Trevor Ariza No. 18, Aaron Brooks No. 34
No. 4 Ndudi Ebi - First round pick in the NBA, played a grand total of 19 games
No. 12 Mustafa Shakur - Mediocre career at Arizona, left a year early to go undrafted in the NBA, perhaps best known for being related to the late rapper Tupa Shakur.
No. 20 Mike Jones - Speaking of rap, wasn't he a rapper?
No. 130 Paul Millslap - A current key member of the Utah Jazz that was rated all the way down here.
2004 Among the correct ones in this class :No. 1 Dwight Howard, No. 3 Josh Smith, No. 4 Al Jefferson, No. 5 Rudy Gay, No. 16 LaMarcus Aldridge, No. 25 Rajon Rondo, No. 36 Al Horford
This was a very talented class through the entire rankings that made a positive impact on college, the NBA, or both, however their are some "Where's Waldo?" nominations:
No. 6 Sebastian Telfair - Over-hyped "NY Legend" from day one.
No. 8 Earl Smith - Your guess is as good as mine.
No. 14 Robert Swift - He has more tattoos than points.
No. 75 Joakim Noah - Say what you will about Noah, but he had a great career at Florida and is turning into a solid contributor on the Bulls
No. 131 Rodney Stuckey - Turning into a nice player on the Pistons.
2005 Among the right ones in this class: Monta Ellis No. 3, Andrew Bynum No. 6, Tyler Hansbrough No. 10, Mario Chalmers No. 12, Brandon Rush No. 13,
The 2005 class had a lot of flops at the top of the class.
No. 1 Gerald Green - An athlete with very little basketball skills, sat on NBA bench for a couple years, now in Europe.
No. 2 Josh McRoberts - Average career at Duke, plays limited minutes on a bad Indiana Pacers team.
No. 11 Greg Paulus - Relegated to the bench by the end of his career at Duke.
No. 75 Chris Douglas-Roberts - Leading scorer on the 2008 Memphis team and a decent role player in the NBA
No. 100 Darren Collison - Fantastic career at UCLA and now a solid backup point guard for Chris Paul
2006 Players that worked out: No. 2 Kevin Durant, No. 4 Chase Budinger, No. 8 Wayne Ellington, No. 9 Ty Lawson, No. 10 Brook Lopez, No. 21 Sherron Collins
The 2006 class has a lot of names that are wait and see.
No. 1 Greg Oden - solid 1 year at Ohio St., but injuries have limited his development in the NBA
No. 3 Brandan Wright - Decent year at UNC, but has not produced in the NBA to date.
No. 13 Daequan Cook - Mediocre year with the Buckeyes, not improving in the NBA, career highlight is winning the 3-point shootout
No. 71 Jon Scheyer - Just finished winning a National Championship and a solid career at Duke.
No. 104 Luke Harangody - Put together one of the best overall careers in Notre Dame and Big East history.
No. 147 Desean Butler - Great career at West Virginia ended with an injury in the Final Four.
2007 Among the successful players: No. 1 Michael Beasley, No. 2 Eric Gordon, No. 3 Derrick Rose, No. 4 O.J. Mayo, No. 5 Kyle Singler, No. 6 Kevin Love, No. 17 Patrick Patterson, No. 22 Jonny Flynn, No. 23 Blake Griffin, No. 30 Cole Aldrich, No. 32 James Anderson, No. 35 ETwaun Moore, No. 38 Kalin Lucas, No. 39 Nolan Smith
Similar to the 2005 class, the 2007 class produced big names throughout the top 150, as well as some names that won't spark your brain.
No. 16 Kosta Koufos - Bum in the NBA just like he was a bum at Ohio St.
No. 19 Nayal Koshwal - ???
No. 42 JaJuan Johnson- Has put together a nice career at Purdue, and is currently deciding on whether or not to return for his senior season.
No. 46 LaceDarius Dunn - Just gone with a great junior year at Baylor and will return for his senior year.
No. 49 Evan Turner - Player of the Year in college basketball and will push for the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft.
No. 59 DeJuan Blair - Solid career at Pittsburgh and becoming a nice addition to the Spurs in the NBA.
No. 75 Robbie Hummel- Had Purdue as a popular Final Four pick until he went down with an injury in March.
2008 Players that worked: No. 4 Brandon Jennings, No. 6 Tyreke Evans, No. 8 Greg Monroe, No. 11 Devin Ebanks, No. 24 Delvon Roe, No. 29 Marcus Morris,
The jury is still very much out on the 2008 class. They will only be juniors in college, but at the top of the list, their are several that can be deemed as failures already.
No. 1 BJ Mullens - Didn't do shit at Ohio St. and hasn't done shit in the NBA.
No. 2 Drue Holiday - Hasn't proven his worth as a number two rated prospect.
No. 3 DeMar Derozan - see Holiday
So as you see in a quick glimpse of the Rivals rankings from 2003- 2008, there are hits and misses all over the top 150 prospects. This doesn't even take into account the great players that didn't even make the top 150, such as Gordon Hayward.
Today's prospects are even more scouted than ever before. Between AAU games and camps, coaches from all over the country seek out these players at an early age.
However, as evidenced by reviewing Rivals rankings, they often times miss on evaluations as much as they succeed. Therefore fans and coaches should not put much stock into the high school hype.
There is a difference between street ball and team ball. The NCAA Tournament this year proved that. Teams that are based upon basketball players and not athletes are going to be the most successful teams in March.
John Calipari can rotate "Happy Meal" players in and out each year, but if the Hamburgular and Ronald McDonald can't execute team basketball, the Wildcats will be eliminated early on in the Tournament.
Which goes back to the unnecessary hype we give to the top recruits in basketball. These guys have not accomplished or proven anything yet. So they won a few AAU games. College basketball is a different beast.
Even worse, we give these guys live coverage and parade them around before they even step foot on a college campus. I don't mind the "showcases" like the McDonald's All-American game or the Jordan Brand Classic, but the live press conferences that announce the prep player's college intentions are extreme.
Chances are they are going to choose a Kentucky, Kansas, or Duke and whose games will appear on national television 20 times a year anyway, what makes them deserve a nationally televised press conference on ESPNU?
Making matters worse is the display of three or four college hats to increase the drama.
This past weekend, Oregon native Terrence Jones, one of the last top unsigned recruits in the country, displayed a desk with Oregon, Washington, Kentucky, and Kansas hats during the press conference. Jones faked as if he was going to choose the Jayhawks and then put on a purple Huskies hat.
Thousands of fans from the west to east coast streamed in live to watch the decision, and many returned to their fan message board to voice displeasure.
However, as of yet, Jones has not signed with Washington and their are rumors he may be thinking Kentucky .
The bottom line: these prospects are by in large overhyped coming out of high school For every LeBron James and Dwight Howard, there are a B.J. Mullens and Sebastian Telfair.
Fans get too hung up on the recruiting process and should only pay attention to the players that put their name on the signature and enroll on campus.
I'll take a team full of hard working players like Duke and Butler, than a team full of prima donna Kentucky Wildcats anyday.
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