Win-now mode has Jones targeting more top recruits
Published: Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 16:04
Get ready for the trickle-down effect to intensify.
So Butler and VCU didn't actually win the NCAA Tournament. In fact, Butler in fact lost one of the uglier championship games in recent memory. But so what? The ramifications of what happened in the past few weeks is bigger than UConn beating the Bulldogs.
The trickle-down effect is going to be palpable.
As National Signing Day for college basketball approaches on May 18 you can bet every coach in the country is going to be going into the homes of these recruits and asking them, "Why not us? Why not now?"
And more importantly, "Why not you?"
Especially the coaches at the helms of mid-major programs, which is what UCF is, playing in the competitive but non-BCS Conference USA.
Sure, there have been Cinderellas before, plenty in fact, but what we saw in this year's tournament was more than just one fluke team making a run. We saw a big step in the reallocation of power in college basketball.
Yes, most of the top recruits in high schools are still signing with the traditional basketball powerhouses — the Dukes and North Carolinas of the world, the schools with some sort of championship pedigree. Orlando's own Austin Rivers, the No. 1 player in the country, is unsurprisingly enrolling at Duke after he graduates from Winter Park this spring.
But more and more, you're seeing athletes consider other options, including mid-majors.
And why shouldn't they?
Not only is there a growing precedent for these programs to contend for a National Title, with Butler appearing in the title game in consecutive years and the Rams making it to the Final Four, but basketball on all levels is still a game of stars and match-ups.
And stars want to play.
A growing number of recruits, the stars at their respective high schools, would rather attend a school where they can start all four years and be The Guy as opposed to choosing a powerhouse where they may not play.
It's becoming more and more of a popular choice with the expansion of television coverage. The Knights are a good example, playing multiple nationally televised games on CBS College Sports and locally on Bright House Sports Network.
With the ability to make an instant impact and play on television, the continued rise of the mid-majors may be what puts a lot of recruits over the tops this signing season, picking less traditional powerhouses.
The Knights and head coach Donnie Jones, an aggressive and effective recruiter, are in the midst of putting together their best draft class to date. So call it what you want, but the trickle-down effect of the success of smaller schools (just to clarify, UCF would be considered smaller in basketball reputation and history, certainly not student population) has the Knights throwing in their hats to go after the services of more and more three- and four-star ballplayers.
It's seemingly UCF's and Jones' own way of asking, "Why not us? Why not now?"
— Two players have decided to part ways with the Knights. Dave Diakite (SF) and Jarvis Davis (PG) are both going to be continuing their careers elsewhere but have not announced where they'll transfer.
Diakite, who could electrify fans with his dunks, was injured, struggled at times and his playtime waned as the season went on.
Davis, a freshman and head coach Donnie Jones' first recruit as a Knight, got limited playing time this season.
UCF has an influx of players coming in next season, and neither player's role looked to increase as a result.
— Four-star center and verbal UCF commitment Michael Chandler has withdrawn from Lawrence North high school in Indianapolis, as told by Lawrence North's athletic director Grant Nesbit to the The Indianapolis Star. Chandler appears to be moving to Kentucky to finish his senior year of high school there.
Chandler is still expected to sign with UCF next week, according to the report.
Chandler has a Twitter account that he updates on a regular basis, and often comments on his excitement about becoming a Knight and posted later Tuesday evening after the report of his transfer broke, "Still tired from that workout. Smh! I already know coach jones is gonna put me to work I can feel it!!"
— The Knights and Coach Jones are throwing in their hats with the big boys of college basketball, going after Kevin Ware, the No. 56 player in the country, who was released from his Letter of Intent to Tennessee following the firing of then-coach Bruce Pearl.
Ware recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Louisville is the frontrunner for the 6-foot-4-inch guard, but he is still weighing his options carefully.