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Too Young To Know?

A Sea of Blue has the best college basketball coverage on the interwebs, so it is no surprise that they would find controversy in a story that mostly flew under the radar.

In my earlier article about Florida coach Billy Donovan's acceptance of Austin Rivers' commitment to the Gators in apparent disdain of the recent NABC strong discouragement of such a practice, I asked if we would hear Donovan similarly criticized, or silence.  That question has been emphatically answered, at least as of 3 days into the affair.  Not one article has appeared as of this writing anywhere that is the least bit critical of Donovan.  But articles have appeared apparently casting Donovan as a victim of Gillispie's actions.

While A Sea of Blue is flame throwing, to not be confused. His anger with the situation is not that Donovan signed Austin Rivers, but that it was no big deal. When Billy Gillispie does it, he gets attacked. Gillispie gets the firing squad of the NCAA, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and anyone with a keyboard. Donovan can avoid all that, probably because of those two banners he has hanging in the O'Connell Center. Rivers' sister plays volleyball at UF too. Had he just been a normal kid, as A Sea of Blue points out, this is no big deal. But 15 year olds who can attract the attention of college coaches and strange men with digital cameras are not normal kids. The NABC's reaction to the Gillispie signings could also be due to when it happened. Had it happened this past weekend, a historically terrible week for news coverage, maybe no one notices.

I cannot begin to dream of being as good of a basketball writer as Truzenzuzex, so I defer to him as the expert on this. But is signing young kids, non binding of course, really a bad thing? Coaches are smart enough to know what 15 year olds deserve scholarships and which ones will honor them. If that happens though, these kids cannot be harassed by other coaches, handlers, AAU coaches, and those strange men with digital cameras that haunt message boards. Kids who are mature enough to know where they are going to college when they are young would kill that industry. As much as we like to believe college sports is a clean game, it isn't. Coaches and their surrogates don't drop off bags of money anymore, but if you think finally choosing a school at the end of a long recruiting battle ends the story, you need to learn about high school athletes. The leeches who try to suck money and attention out of high school kids when they declare (similar to the "agents" following young Dominican baseball players or O.J. Mayo's people) need to be erased. Maybe the NABC is so far up their high horse that they can't see the garbage on the ground. They are the enablers here. Donovan and Gillispie might have done these kids a favor. Rivers won't be getting text messages in the middle of the night from Rivals and Scout writers, and that's a good thing.