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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The Brandon Jennings Effect

    WESTFIELD, Mass. – During Brandon Jennings’ period of choosing between playing professional basketball in Europe or college in Tuscon, some speculated that the unprecedented move could potentially pioneer other one-and-done recruits overseas.

    Jennings announced his decision to bypass Arizona on July 8, but other high profile recruits have since denied interest in following his footsteps thus far.

    Stemming from the original speculation, maybe his decision will shift the roots of college basketball recruiting in a ripple effect.

    Certainly, the Wildcats will feel immediate shock waves of losing the class of 2008’s top ranked point guard. But in terms of long-term strategy, Jennings’ departure will affect the future means of UA men’s basketball recruiting.

    UA head coach Lute Olson reacted to Jennings’ decision with an unprecedented new change of his own. Olson told the Los Angeles Times he would not pursue future similar one-and-done prospects.

    “”It’s a situation now that if someone’s a ‘one-and-done,’ we’re not going to pursue them anymore, no way,”” Olson said.

    Olson later told more of the same to

    “”We’re going to change our position and if we think someone we’re recruiting has that kind of thought about going to Europe, we’re going to stop trying to recruit those type of guys,”” Olson said. “”We as coaches warned the NCAA about this when it was first put in place. It’s going to turn into a bigger mess.””

    Over 2,600 miles away, Olson’s comments intrigued coaches and players at the birthplace of basketball, Springfield, Mass., at an AAU tournament that featured Olson’s new breed of diamond-in-the-rough AAU players.

    The HoopHall Summer Showcase attracted the northeast’s top AAU programs to Westfield (Mass.) State College. Even while the ink of Olson’s comments was still drying, coaches and players became intrigued by the new mindset.

    “”You might see some of the bigger schools start to trickle into these smaller tournaments,”” said tournament director Colin Tabb. “”Part of it is, a lot of the high-level programs still have those lower-level Division I players on their team.

    “”They’re going to probably target kids that they feel are going to be program kids now versus kids that are going to be one-and-done,”” Tabb added. “”I think you’ll see kids that they can build a team around for four years.””

    While this year’s HoopHall Summer Showcase only attracted local scouts – the best program in attendance was the University of Massachusetts-Amherst – the future might be different at these types of smaller tournaments.

    Mike Menggenga coaches the M33M AAU team based out of Buffalo, N.Y., which mainly consists of unproven players heading to private academies, rather than college, in an effort to boost their national recognition.

    “”It’s a tough one,”” Menggenga said. “”Their dream is to get to the NBA. I still think you should recruit the best players regardless of whether you think they’re one and done.

    “”It’s really tough, you don’t know the situation of the kid. It’s like being punished for being good,”” he added.

    Said M33M 16-year-old guard Jamal Webb of one-and-done athletes: “”It is (good for them), but then again it’s not (for the colleges). Most of (those) kids aren’t going for education, which college is for.””

    Now with agents and endorsement deals posing bigger distractions than ever before at highly-touted recruits, Menggenga believes scouts will invest deeper interest in a potential recruit’s on- and off-court character.

    The 2008 NBA Draft set a record for 10 freshmen in the first round. UA guard Jerryd Bayless was selected 11th overall, contributing to the freshman total of one-and-done players.

    “”Some of these kids, they have so much baggage with them,”” Menggenga said. “”(Schools are) looking for decent kids that are going to be in class. Character goes into it a lot. I think a lot of programs are going to start looking at that even more.””

    Tabb, who coached for three years at Brandeis (Mass.) University, also put a great amount of stock into his recruiting efforts.

    “”I think it’s all about building a team for four years,”” Tabb said. “”Chemistry, cohesiveness – guys you want to build your program around. Kids are so talented, but you also got to judge their attitude, character, how they represent themselves off the court – those are all things you factor in.””

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