View Full Version : Board topic: recruits backing out of verbals

06-19-2007, 09:30 AM

Less than one day after selecting Texas A&M as his school, 2008 top 25 forward Anthony Jones has backed out of his verbal commitment to the program.

At least he made a quick decision so that new coach Mark Turgeon can pursue other options in case Jones goes elsewhere.

While coaches are fully aware that a verbal is just a verbal, and that kids can back out at any time.....is it just me, or does it seem like more and more kids are not taking verbal commitments seriously? Maybe I am just cynical, but it almost has become like a PR move or something with some of these guys to make a verbal, get in the news, and then back out to pursue better options.

At the same time, even though verbals are non-binding, coaches have to take them seriously. They have to plan for the future and build future recruiting classes around the player that just verbaled. Moreover, coaches can't recruit other players at the same position (to plan ahead in case that player backs out) as that can cause the player that just verbaled to back out of his commitment due to playing time fears. It's like a double edged sword.

The whole system seems out of whack to me, but at the same time, I can't really think of a way to fix it. You can't say that kids can no longer give oral commitments to schools because there are so many who want to do this and who stay true to their commitment because they want the decision off their shoulders and to have coaches stop contacting them.

But at the same time, the fleeting nature of these verbals seems to only be increasing. It's one thing if you have a few isolated incidents, but if it becomes a trend, it becomes something that isn't necessarily great for college basketball, and it really puts a lot of heat on coaches, who already have to work like mad to even get those players to verbal in the first place.

Do any of you have any unique solutions, or is this just a reality that coaches have to live with?

And BTW...this issue goes beyond kids like Taylor King who commit to a school at a young age and then back out. It's happening with sophomores, juniors, etc. I mean, I don't know for a fact that kids are backing out of their verbals more than ever, but it sure seems like it.

06-19-2007, 10:34 AM
Maybe kids learn from coaches ala Billie Donavan backing in and out of written and verbals.

06-19-2007, 10:36 AM
Taylor King isn't going to Duke anymore? Where is he going now?

06-19-2007, 10:43 AM
King committed to UCLA when he was about 5 yrs old.:rolleyes: He backed out and then signed on at Duke/

06-19-2007, 01:27 PM
I personally think it is a little ridiculous to be verballing kids at this age. I had no freaking clue what school I wanted to attend when I was a sophomore in high school. I wasn't even sure where I was going to go when I was a senior. I think it is reasonable to expect kids to make changes as they start to think a little more about what they want once they are a little older and closer to college.

06-19-2007, 02:27 PM
you say one thing and do another. you promise one thing then change your mind.

my further guess is these kids who are heavily recruited feel the need at some time to say "something," or indicate areas of interest, or to list their favorite schools and so on, when pressed by media outlets at home and away.

It will only get worse over time, but I agree with those who think these athletes need time and space at their ages and not pressure and commitments.

this seems like something that needs regulation of some form.

Unless a kid knows where he wants to go and, with his parents' permission, wants to get it out of the way, they need more time and protection, not less.

06-19-2007, 02:33 PM
CDC84, I'm shocked. If I'm not mistaken, you were firmly in Mike DeCourcy's camp (http://www.sportingnews.com/yourturn/viewtopic.php?t=108166) on this subject, when it came up after Kelvin Sampson's recruitment of Eric Gordon caused Eric to back out of his commitment to Illinois.

I think very few of these kids have the sophistication of an O. J. Mayo, manipulating the media. I think most of them are subject to incredible pressure at a very vulnerable time in their lives, when it's easy to become starstruck and dazzled by a persuasive coach in the heat of the moment, or when they're sick and tired of being besieged by the sweaty mobs of coaches beating on their doors.

As DeCourcy's article points out, it's the colleges that have accelerated the recruiting process. They know the risks - the risk that a kid won't live up to his promise during the remaining term of his high school career, the risk that his academic performance won't seem so important to him once hes locked up a spot on a college roster, the risk that his character won't develop favorably. I can only think of the changes I made between my freshman and senior year in high school. It was night and day.

I feel next to no sympathy for the spurned suitors in these cases. They're basing their plans on promises made by 15-year olds? All they can and should do is cross their fingers and hope.

06-19-2007, 02:59 PM
College football doesn't really have this issue with verbals, does it? Don't they typically just have signing day, where the recruit announces his choice as a Senior and signs immediately? Granted, football recruiting classes are a lot larger and you're signing guys at the same position in a lot of cases.

06-19-2007, 03:18 PM
CDC84, I'm shocked. If I'm not mistaken, you were firmly in Mike DeCourcy's camp on this subject, when it came up after Kelvin Sampson's recruitment of Eric Gordon caused Eric to back out of his commitment to Illinois.

The Eric Gordon situation is a bit of a different situation. What I was objecting to was the idea of Kelvin Sampson being vilified for pursuing a prep player who clearly wanted to be recruited by Indiana once Mike Davis was let go. This is despite the fact that I dislike Sampson as much as anyone. As far as I know, guys like Jones, Jennings, King, and others were not being actively recruited by other coaches after they verbaled to their initial schools. Those kids made rash decisions and backed out...whatever the reason may be.

I have a right to change and reassess my beliefs on certain matters as time moves along. This particular issue is one that I can waffle on from time to time. At the time that the whole Gordon mess went down, I felt it was an isolated case, and that it wouldn't turn into an epidemic. Now I am not so sure.

feel next to no sympathy for the spurned suitors in these cases. They're basing their plans on promises made by 15-year olds? All they can and should do is cross their fingers and hope.

I am with you on this Native regarding the 15 year olds. But my concern is when it happens with kids who are older....especially if it ends up becoming an increasing trend.

06-19-2007, 04:43 PM
Anthony's Mom weighs in: LJWorld.Com (http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/jun/19/soaring_senior/)

Change of heart: Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon received an oral commitment on Sunday from Anthony Jones, a 6-9 senior from Yates High in Houston.

On Monday, Jones decommitted. He has a final list of A&M, Baylor and Texas.

I want to let you know that my son still has his options open. I wasnt there for the interview, and I should have been there, Jones mother, Dee Curtis, said of a TV interview in Houston in which Anthony pledged to the Aggies. Im his mom, and I know he was coerced into committing. I know my son, and Im sure he just said what he said to get them out of his face.

I agree with everything my mom just said, Jones told Rivals. com. I was rushed into committing, and I still want to weigh my options.

prima facie.

I think that even in a case where a kid and his parents have plenty of time and can make a thoughtful decision, what about the kid who makes a decision based on assumptions for his playing time, role on the team, etc., only to find the coaching staff subsequently receives a verbal from another kid which changes the playing field. I'm thinking of Micah Downs and Brandon Rush at Kansas, Brandon committing after Micah. I don't know the facts behind that case, but it's not out of the question that Micah might not have given his verbal had he known he'd be competing with Brandon for playing time. Once made, a verbal can only be backed out of by taking flack.

06-19-2007, 04:52 PM

Gets a verbal out of a 15 year old...........

06-19-2007, 05:06 PM
If the verbal is solicited by the school...don't trust it.

If the kids MySpace says, "I always wanted to be a Zag." You can kinda trust it.

If the kids mom says "He always dreamed of playing for Gonzaga." Book it as a done deal.

06-19-2007, 05:40 PM
Didn't we get a verbal from a 15 year old? (Osweiler) Right, wrong or indifferent, it is what it is.

06-20-2007, 06:28 AM
Has Gonzaga had anybody give a verbal and then change their mind in recent years?

06-20-2007, 08:19 AM
There was a guard out of North Idaho (as I recall before Winston Brooks came from there) who verballed & then changed his mind. As I recall, Few's comment was something to the effect of "if he doesn't want to be a Zag, we don't want him."

06-20-2007, 09:02 AM
Ian Mahini (sp)?

06-20-2007, 09:10 AM
I am with you on this Native regarding the 15 year olds. But my concern is when it happens with kids who are older....especially if it ends up becoming an increasing trend.

In addition to the situation pointed out by ZN, there are the coaches who make the so-called shotgun offers. A handful of PSAs being recruited for a position are told about each other, and then informed that the first taker to provide the coaching staff a verbal "gets" the lone scholarship. Some of the high-pressure sales pitches would do a car salesman proud.

Verbals that come about because heavy-duty coaching pressure has been applied are unreliable. Period.

Come on ... some of these verbals arise out of circumstances where what we're talking about is almost a "cult" indoctrination process designed by adults and directed at under-age kids who spend several days on unofficial or official visits to a campus or attending a camp on a campus.

Even adult car buyers -- who might have spent only 3 or 4 hours in a car showroom with a high-pressure salesman -- get a few days right after signing where they can exercise that penalty-free FTC "back out clause" on their sales contract.

The "problem" of unreliable verbal commitments is not solved by any steps to make a verbal more formally binding. The solution is to look at the formalized LOI system designed by the NCAA as having some legitimate reasons underlying it.

An age 18 player is likelier to know his own mind than a 15 or 16 year old, or even a 17 year old. An age 18 player can "beg to differ" with what parents or other legal guardians might want for him by signing on the dotted line for himself, rather than rely on a legal proxy's signature.

When there is the truly rare case like MickMick points out -- a player like Osweiler whose interest in a particular program is self-generated -- then that's pure gravy.

As far as NorthoftheBorder's question, there was a player about 3 or 4 years ago whose public pronouncements were so garbled right after a visit that it might have been a verbal that got quickly reneged on. (Or a claim of an "offer" without foundation. :D ) I never could make head nor tail of it. BZ or CDC might know more. But he was a JuCo. Not the NIC player but the Moroccan player who ended up at SMC.

But as far as a high profile verbal that got PR over many months, and the player then had a change of mind -- I personally can't think of any from '00 up to the present.

06-20-2007, 10:38 PM
Somewhat related, Pepperdine lost a recruit & an Asst. Coach to New Mexico St. Now Theus is gone to the NBA. Some people left out on a plank.