Tracking the College Stars of the Future
Saturday, March 9, 2002
By Thad Mumau
Boosts Pirates' Recruiting Profile
Being a member
of Conference USA can only help East Carolinaís basketball program. It is
definitely going to help bring better players to Greenville.
While itís not
a matter of riding the coat tails of a national power like Cincinnati or
other established basketball schools like Louisville, Marquette and DePaul,
it is a matter of cashing in on their reputations.
coaches like the Cardinals' Rick Pitino, Cincy's Bob Huggins and John
Calipari of Memphis are going to help the Piratesí recruiting, too.
wherever those guys are coaching, the television cameras canít be far away.
And the kids love to play on TV. Many prospects will choose Conference USA
schools if they know they will receive a lot of exposure.
We donít have
to look any farther than the Atlantic Coast Conference. Sure, Duke and North
Carolina have been the giants of that league over recent years, but they can
only sign so many players. Many other talented prospects choose other ACC
schools simply because of the conferenceís name.
The kids want
to play in the ACC. They like the exposure, but they also like the idea of
playing against tough competition. During the early signing week in
November, ACC schools landed 20 of the top 100 seniors in the country as
ranked by Prepstars.com. Duke got five of them and Carolina three. That
means a dozen went to the other seven schools in the conference.
East Carolina can benefit in Conference USA.
years, there have been many, many times when a prospect said the main reason
he chose a certain school was because it was in the ACC. The kid would
mention the opportunity to play in the conference before saying anything
about how beautiful the campus was, how terrific the coaching staff was or
how he felt about the academics.
It can be that
way for ECU, and thereís nothing wrong with that.
This is not to
say that Bill Herrion and his Piratesí coaching staff donít have what it
takes to recruit talented basketball players. But, like other sales jobs, it
always helps to have something to get a foot in the door. Conference USA
will help get the door open.
Just as many
young men get excited about the chance to play against Duke and UNC, so will
many others salivate about the chance to play against Cincinnati and
recruiters never talk about other schools or programs. They sell their own
universities. They highlight athletic facilities, graduation rates,
tradition or whatever else might be a strength of their particular
institution and program.
can be a strong selling point as well. And when you are playing Cincinnati,
Louisville, Memphis, Marquette, DePaul and Charlotte two times each, the
schedule is going to be pretty impressive. Louisville and DePaul
are not what they once were on the hardwood, but Pitino will have the
Cardinals there in a hurry, and the Blue Demons have the kind of past that
can help build a brighter future.
has obviously been known as a football school. (Pirate baseball has also
been very good over the years, but a lot of people donít know that.)
Basketball is another story, one without consistent success.
A big reason
is that ECU is buried in ACC Country, and ACC basketball has been considered
the best in the land most of the time for decades. People have said there is
no way the Pirates can recruit against Duke, Carolina and N.C. State.
But the Bucsí
coaching staff is now recruiting against Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis and
Charlotte. Some very good prospects are going to play for those schools.
There are many others who will play for the other Conference USA schools.
East Carolina can get its share.
about basketball is that one or two players can make a huge difference. A
good 7-footer and a penetrating point guard who can score a little can turn
a program around. Get a couple of good players and more follow to play with
It isnít that simple, but it isnít that far-fetched, either. Herrion has
some nice tools to help him build.
There may be
Division I prospects at North Carolina high schools who want to stay in the
state. Because East Carolina is in Conference USA, some of those kids may
head for Greenville where they can play a lot rather than sit at the end of
the Carolina or State bench.
membership in Conference USA ó and proving it can compete, as it did in its
first season ó will transform ECU basketball in a way that was unimaginable
in the past.
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Thad Mumau's Bonesville
02/23/2007 02:39:43 PM