Monday, April 20, 2009

Speaking of Recruiting (Coach Fox and Daniel Miller)

Georgia's situation on recruiting is rather interesting.

Fox arrives in town and faces a roster in transition. Troy Brewer and Zac Swansey announced that they are transferring, making their decision prior to the school's decision on the new coach.

Where does this all leave Coach Fox? Georgia has a potential 2009/2010 roster of Daniel Miller, Demario Mayfield and Ebuka Anyaorah as freshmen. Dustin Ware, Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie and Drazen Zlovaric will be sophomores. Chris Barnes and Jeremy Price will make up the junior class, and Albert Jackson and walk-on, Ricky McPhee, will be seniors.

If Fox can hang on to the remaining part of his roster, he can field a serviceable team. However, the quality of Georgia's squad will depend on whether Anyaorah is fully recovered from his surgery, and whether Mayfield and McPhee can advance the ball against full-court pressure.

So, Fox has a team of 10. However, he has only one point guard, and it's late in the recruiting year. What to do?

One option is for Coach Fox to recruit one player, a point guard, and fill out the rest of the team with walk-ons, saving 2 scholarships for next year. Another possibility is for Fox to assess his team and the incoming recruits, and free up as many roster spots as possible.

From what I can gather, Coach Fox is undecided on whether to honor UGA's scholarship offer to Miller.

The situation with Daniel Miller is, in my opinion, untenable. If a player has signed a letter of intent with a school, and has locked himself in under the rules (such that the athlete cannot change his mind and compete for another school unless the first institution gives him a release from the LOI), there is no way that the school's decision to fire their coach should operate to deprive the student athlete of the benefit of the signed scholarship agreement.

I understand that Coach Fox, just like any other new coach, is under pressure to win. Having just 13 scholarships to use, makes it critical that each player having a scholarship be able to contribute to the program. However, to make a decision not to honor a signed letter of intent, doing so in April of the year before the recruit is to report to campus in August, is totally unfair to the recruit. The athlete has almost no chance of getting on with another school, since the vast majority of programs have already filled out their rosters.

A better ethical decision for UGA and other schools is to honor the scholarship for at least one year. Scholarships are granted on a one-year basis anyway. At least the athlete can follow through on his plans for schooling for the year.

The NCAA should promulgate rules to clarify the mutual obligations of recruits and schools, when schools make coaching changes in college basketball. In the meantime, Fox should honor the commitment to Miller.

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