Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Recruiting Edge

"Wayne Ellington grew up with Michael Jordan, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Vince Carter. Well, sort of. Those former North Carolina basketball stars did spend a lot of time in his living room, flashing to and fro across the TV screen while Ellington ogled. And dreamed. For Connecticut and nearby Villanova, Ellington's longtime Tar Heels bias was too much to overcome when it came time to decide where he would play college basketball."

Jeff Carlton' s article in today's N&R describes one of the primary advantages UNC-CH has in recruiting top high school basketball players. It is also is a reminder of why NC State does not have a chance at the same caliber of players as nearby Duke and Carolina.

Talented basketball players watch the game on tv. When they watch hoops, they see the best teams, such as Carolina, Duke, and Kentucky. Except for regional action, they rarely see NC State.

And these prospects cannot remember a nationally competitive NC State team. They were either unborn or in diapers the last time the Wolfpack was a nationally respected team. These prospects probably are not even familiar with the ACC's best player ever, David Thompson.

So the result is that the NC State is not even on the radar of the best college prospects in the country. They have never dreamed of wearing Wolfpack red or making a big shot to beat Carolina. They dream about playing for Carolina.

NC State's basketball tradition was as strong as Duke's or Carolina's at one time. Even as recently as 15 years ago, State's basketball heritage was just one notch below top tier teams such as Carolina and Kentucky. Now State is not even part of the conversation.

Herb Sendek is capable of producing teams that finish in the middle of the ACC, but he has given no indication he can restore the program to anywhere near its past greatness. And while I am not generally against a coach with a low-key style, our program needs some energy and enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, NC State cannot recruit on the basis of its heritage anymore. It is time to hire a coach who can attract top players, so we can start building that heritage again.


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