ARTICLE OF THE DAY
 
Covering Recruiting
is an Endless Paper Trail

by Eric Gilmore
4/27/06

Ever tried to find that misplaced checkbook, but you don’t know where to start looking? Maybe you suddenly looked in your empty back pocket after making a purchase, and realized that it could be in a hundred different places. That’s the best way to describe covering the college recruiting beat.

There’s no starting place, no point of reference. Unless a coach or smaller level source is in tune with the recruiting happenings and more importantly willing to share sacred information, beat writers are often left with few nuggets of information.     

So in order to solidify solid info, the reporters are forced to rely on other beat writers from across the nation to break stories. Like the coaches, who definitely aren’t talking with Joe Reporter, these small town reporters have developed a bond with the potential recruits.

Barring a stakeout of the athletic facilities, Joe Reporter has no way of knowing what’s going on. And for some reason, this basketball administration would like to keep it that way. It’s on the local media to grab the scoop, but labeling them lazy is far from the truth.

Take Darrell “Smooch” Jenkins for example. Jenkins’ commitment was first reported by The Times-News in Twin Falls, Idaho. Jenkins played for the College of Southern Idaho, which isn’t exactly a high profile school. And it’s in Idaho, a mere 35 hour drive from Greenville.

Once a lead is established, a story becomes quite easy. In fact, I had a phone exchange with College of Southern Idaho head coach Barret Peery on Wednesday to discuss Jenkins, but our schedules didn’t correlate.

Outside of Jenkins, the recruiting trail remains wide open. Any junior college or prep school ballplayer is fair game to be signed by Ricky Stokes and his staff. And many times the coaches or information directors at these schools are uncooperative.

Still, ECU has a couple of scholarships still to hand out to combat some problems with depth. Don’t be surprised if the staff chooses to hold a scholarship or two for the next class because only Courtney Captain will become a senior. Plenty of instate juniors are considering ECU among their favorites.

Nuggets:

According to a Miami-Dade Community College assistant coach, junior college recruit Stuard Baldonado is no longer being considered by the Pirates. Baldonado (6-7, 250) had been recruited by Kansas St. as well as the ECU, but has reportedly only made visits to Hofstra, Oregon St. and UTEP. Duquesne is also actively pursuing Baldonado.

Robert Spence said that ECU “chose another kid over [Baldonado].” The power forward is listed as a top-30 junior college recruit. Baldonado’s head coach Butch Estes, is a former Pirate assistant.

Paul Guede, a 6-foot-5 forward from Grace Christian School in Sanford spurned Winthrop, UNC-Wilmington and ECU by choosing Valparaiso.  It is unclear whether the N.C. recruit was offered a scholarship by ECU. However, there is a good chance that Guede will attend prep school instead of Valpo.

According to the Cecil Times in M.D., point guard Kyle Camper (6-3, 190) will announce his commitment by the end of the week. Camper had been reportedly recruited by Texas Tech head coach Bobby Knight, but will likely side with either Iona or Drexel with ECU being a distant third.

Camper is a winner. He helped lead his high school team to a perfect 28-0 season and 2A State Championship as a junior in 2002. While at Cecil, Camper was red-shirted in the 04-05 season. According to the school’s website, head coach Bill Lewit thinks Camper “is a strong physical, athletic, skilled guard.”

Pay attention to a couple of transfers. Raleigh native Monty Sanders (6-6, 225) recently transferred from the University of Richmond. He was recruited by Jerry Wainwright from Cardinal Gibbons High School, but Wainwright bolted for DePaul. Sanders reportedly was headed to UNC-Wilmington, but with a new coach, that decision may be in flux.

Other long shot transfers are point guards Zam Fredrick from Georgia Tech and Devan Downey from Cincinnati. Both have expressed strong interest in South Carolina, but with the Gamecocks strapped for scholarships and Stokes’ previous connections, it might be a possibility.

With the N.C. State continuous coaching carousel, Herb Sendek has to be laughing in Tempe. But he will be laughing harder because former McDonald’s All-American and Duke transfer Eric Boateng is close to signing with Arizona St.

Eric Gilmore
eric@pirateradio1250.com