Did Bill Self, Kansas Jayhawks Steal Prized Recruit from San Diego State Aztecs?

Ro ShiellAnalyst IJune 21, 2011

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 27:  Head coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks reacts during the southwest regional final of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams at the Alamodome on March 27, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas. Virginia Commonwealth defeated Kansas 71-61.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

San Diego State coach Steve Fisher has accused Bill Self of stealing an impact recruit from him.

Self maintains that the recruit had de-committed before Kansas started recruiting him.

Is this a case of a big conference school throwing its weight around?

"Kevin played two years at Loyola Marymount, then transferred to a junior college last year to get his academics in order,” Self said. “He graduated from junior college and has two years left to play. We’re really happy. I know he wants to be here.

"It’s amazing how recruiting works. You work so hard for some guys and don’t get them and sometimes great opportunities just happen to come your way and this is certainly a great opportunity for us.”

Self made no mention of the fact that the forward had already signed a financial agreement with San Diego State. Clearly the "great opportunity" was finding an elite player that was not fully committed to any school.

With the graduation of two key seniors and early departure of Markieff and Marcus Morris plus freshman Josh Selby, Kansas' roster was looking a little thin. Young, who averaged 10.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game his sophomore year at Loyola Marymount, would certainly ease the burden of these losses.

On the other hand, the Aztecs’ super sophomore, Kawhi Leonard, entered his name in the upcoming NBA draft. This depletes a team that was beaten in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament by eventual champions UConn.

They now have eight scholarship players for the coming season and were depending upon Young's arrival. Understandably Steve Fisher did not take this one lying down.

"I'm disappointed that a young man who I am very fond of would not feel an obligation to honor an eight-month commitment," Fisher said, according to Mark Ziegler of The San Diego Union-Tribune. "And I'm equally disappointed in a program and coach I'm very fond of to pursue a player who made an eight-month commitment."

Fisher is doing very well with the Aztecs, but you can't fault a player for choosing Kansas over them in a head-to-head battle.

“I don’t blame coach Fisher for being disappointed at all because Kevin did commit to them,” Self said, “but Kevin also told them he wasn't going to San Diego State before we recruited him, so we didn't steal him from San Diego State by any stretch.

“We would not have recruited Kevin if he was committed to San Diego State. He did de-commit from them before we pursued him at all. We did not recruit him until after he de-committed,” KU’s coach stressed.

A financial agreement does not bind the player to SDSU as a letter of intent would have done. College athletes are only allowed to sign one letter of intent, and Young had already signed one with Loyola Marymount.

“It happened, like, around the end of May,” Young said. “I talked to (KU assistant) coach (Kurtis) Townsend and let him know that I was interested in coming, and then before he went on, he made sure that I talked to coach (Steve) Fisher and (assistant) coach (Brian) Dutcher at San Diego State and made sure they knew that I was planning on taking a visit out here and stuff. And then, I talked to them as well and let them know."

So he had not exactly de-committed before they started recruiting him. By Young’s own admission he called Kansas first. Townsend could have said you are already committed to SDSU, so we are not interested, but he did not. Young said he informed Fisher of his impending visit to Kansas; he never said he changed his mind about playing for the Aztecs.

Kansas should be applauded for making Young inform Fisher of his actions, but this directly contradicts Self’s story that the Jayhawks were never recruiting him before he gave SDSU its walking papers.

This is the nature of the beast. Fisher should realize that big conference schools rule; that’s why the letter of intent is so important for the smaller conference schools. Without the LOI, until the player shows up on campus, you should assume you still have a spot to fill.