It was a big deal when Billy Gillispie accepted a commitment from Michael Avery, a 15-year old 8th-grader who hadn't yet settled on which high school he'd been attending when he said 'yes' to Kentucky. Gillispie took a lot of heat, not only from the press but the UK athletic director, who took some convincing before he blessed his coach's actions.
The National Association of Basketball Coaches, an organization which has no power of enforcement but does carry clout within the profession, issued an edict which basically stated that recruiting kiddos prior to their sophomore year of high school is a big no-no -- or at least, "strongly discouraged". Gillispie responded in kind by saying he fully respected the NABC's position and that he intended to abide by it from now on.
Enter Florida's Billy Donovan, who just three weeks removed from the NABC's recommendation accepted a recruitment from Austin Rivers, son of Doc Rivers, coach of the 2008 world champion Boston Celtics. Young Rivers, like Avery, is merely 15 years old and two grades shy of the NABC's recommended 10th-grade.
Kentucky blog A Sea of Blue wonders why Donovan isn't getting a public beatdown after the outcry over Gillispie's nearly identical circumstances.
So now comes my next question -- will we see the media come out in force condemning Billy Donovan for violating the NABC's "moratorium" on accepting early commitments, or will we hear crickets? My bet is the latter, because what we clearly have here and have had for some time is a double standard. The media clearly knows that Gillsipie wasn't the first to do this, but they have, in general, studiously avoided mentioning coaches like Roy Williams and Billy Donovan. Why? Because it's much easier to make Gillispie the fall guy. Everybody knows Gillispie has a couple of alcohol-related incidents in his past, and painting a flawed person as an ogre is much easier than manufacturing one from clean-cut Billy Donovan or sweet Ol' Roy.
Perhaps so, but it's worth noting that the firestorm over Gillispie's young recruit started within the Kentucky beat section of the college basketball media. Local writers were critical of Gillispie from the get-go, and perhaps the prickly nature of the relationship between the local press and the head coach was fuel for the fire.
As for Donovan's snub, the NABC now plans to deal directly with NCAA to address what they see as a "serious problem." Whether the NCAA agrees, and answers with new regulations, remains to be seen.
Donovan Snubs NABC, Accepts 15-Year Old Son of Doc Rivers' Commitment originally appeared on NCAA Basketball FanHouse on Fri, 04 Jul 2008 18:17:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.