Yesterday was the day everyone will remember forever. Yes, sir. It was the 2014-15 college basketball version of National Letter of Intent early signing period. Otherwise known as, the day that four years from now we can’t believe Player-X was rated so high/low because that guy ended up being so bad/good. Really, all national letter of intent day happens to be is the day fan bases gush over their new commitments while other passionate fans call for their head coach’s head on a stick.
Regardless, getting kids to sign a national letter of intent does have some tangible value. It does a good job gauging a coach’s ability to recruit at a high level, gives an idea on how high school kids see certain programs and provides another avenue for John Calipari to woo some kid’s mom in the hopes of making him — yet another — future Big Blue Nation lottery pick in the very next NBA Draft.
So, since we live in a world where everything must be dissected only moments after happening and without the ability of actually knowing if any of it will matter, let us take a look at who theoretically won and loss national letter of intent day.
Well, of course Kentucky won the day. Not only did they land prized prospect Isaiah Briscoe, but they also scooped up a commit from Skal Labissiere.
Briscoe was also considering St. John’s and UConn, but he was quoted on ESPNU as saying that while “he didn’t want to talk down about other programs” that he “wanted to do what was best for his family”, which is apparently taking the Calipari route to the NBA. And, really, who can blame him for taking the surest route to a large sum of cash money.
Labissiere, on the other hand, is a tricky commit. He is unlikely to actually play for the Wildcats. That is a combination of his wanting to pursue some professional opportunities overseas as well as an eligibility issue that has been talked about as of late.
Either way, this is obviously two huge commits for Calipari and further proof that the recruiting world starts and ends in Lexington, Kentucky.
Frank Howard is joining Moustapha Diagne and Tyler Lydon to help the Orange’s acclaimed 2015 recruiting class become even more acclaimed. Basically, getting Howard on top of the other two is like having Christina Ricci agreeing to go on a date with you only moments after smooching Katie Holmes days after taking Alexis Bledel to dinner.
Howard is viewed mostly as a four star caliber recruit. The same can be said for Lydon and Moustapha. However, the latter are viewed as much bigger gets by people who scout such things as high school kids hurling a ball towards the general direction of a hoop.
That’s right. College basketball itself was a winner on Thursday. While I have absolutely zero statistics to back this up, this did seem like one of the most followed first days of the early national letter of intent signing period in recent history. While that had a lot to do with where Isaiah Briscoe was going (it was a tippy-top secret), it shows that the college basketball fanbase is as dedicated to seeing people make the hugest decisions of their lives as college football folk are.
Guess who has as many 2015 recruiting class commitments as the Red Storm (Hint: You’re reading this)?
The Johnnies not only lost out on Briscoe, but probably prized recruit Brandon Sampson as well. Many have said that the two of them would be a package deal regardless, although the statement is rumored to be more true for St. John’s more than anyone else.
Losing out on a talent like Briscoe isn’t that huge a deal. Not solely, at least. The idea that Steve Lavin can still be in the running for a recruit graded as highly as him is a good sign. However, Briscoe choosing Calipari over the Red Storm and Lavin currently having zero commitments to play for next year — with a slew of players leaving due to graduation after this season — does not bode well for the Lavin era.
Essentially, Lavin has to go to the NCAA Tournament this year or the sincerely likable coach will be given the ax at the end of the season.
Because they are DePaul, man.
The coverage on ESPNU was actually top-notch. So, too, was the analysis I was getting on Twitter — for the most part. My biggest problem with any version of kids signing their national letters of intent is the fact that it doesn’t really matter in the big scheme of things.
We let other people tell us how good these kids are, based off of AAU and high school games, and just assume it is the truth. The truth is actually a lot more complicated.
Just because a team may have landed three four-star-rated recruits on national letter of intent day does not mean it will be all sunshine and rainbows in that program’s future.
Generally speaking, unless you are Kentucky, landing the cream of the crop is obviously a huge deal. It can make the perception of your program change overnight. Yet, it doesn’t mean anything tangible in the win column. We saw super hyped Andrew Wiggins not lead the Kansas Jayhawks to a national title while his less hyped running mate, Joel Embiid, might have ended up being the better college basketball player.
So, yeah, just because some guy said a young kid is a “generational” type of talent does not make it so. The same can be said from the complete opposite side of the spectrum, as Boise State’s Anthony Drmic was not a prized recruit coming out of high school at all and he is currently one of the best players in the entire country.
Also, look at which types of programs have been making sustained runs in the NCAA Tournament. Yes, there are programs like Kentucky who do have the ability to over-match experience with talent, but most of the teams running the gauntlet on the regular have a slew of three-to-four year players. Guess who isn’t staying at “pick a school who landed a top-10 player” for three-to-four years? Well, that is unless he ends being nowhere near as good as everyone projected.
I guess what I’m trying to say, in the most roundabout way as humanly possible, national letter of intent signing days have only two winners, bloggers and fanatics. We can wrap hyperbole, narratives and projections all into one. Why? Because no one will even know if we were accurate until three years from now.
*Section Photo credit to NBPA Top 100 Camp; Featured Photo (above) credit to Geoff Burke, USA Today Sports