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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Visits the middle part of the recruitment process

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THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

- In recruiting, a visit means your halfway there

Normally, we tend to leave all things bright and beautiful about recruiting to our ace columnist Jenny O'Bryan. She knows it, she follows it and she understands it. And that works well for us. If you've got Eric Clapton available to play the guitar, you hand it to him instead of the guy tending bar.

Today, though. I will talk recruiting. Bear with me.

I had a former college basketball coach give me his take on recruiting once. He broke it down so a sixth-grader could understand it, which worked well for me. I don't think he ever recruited any sixth-graders...but sometimes, you just never know. Anyway, here is the process, according to him.

1) Recognition. You find out about a kid who rarely misses behind the three-point arc. Or is 6'7" in the ninth grade and starting for their high school team. You do your research and, if the prospect looks like one that might fit the needs of your team, you move onto step two, which is...
2) Contact. You let the kid know you're interested. You try and find out if the kid is interested in you. If so, you keep up the contact. You establish contact with the high school coach, the AAU coach, the parents, old Uncle Ben. You watch, you observe. You do more checking, broader-based and comprehensive. Eventually you get to step three which is...
3) Visits. You go see the kid. You invite the kid to see the campus. The NCAA has all kinds of rules and regulations about this. You follow them. Hopefully, you get to step four, which is...
4) Verbal. The kid comes out and says your school is their top choice. It's not official yet, but you're in the driver's seat for step five...
5) Signing. That's when the kid officially signs the letter of intent. A LOI isn't always 100% fool-proof...but it means the kid intends on playing for you.

This weekend, on the University of Louisville campus, step three comes to fruition. In a huge way. Four outstanding girls' high school basketball stars hit the Belknap Campus on recruiting visits. Remember the names. Nothing would please Cardinal WBB fans and Jeff Walz more than to see them move on to step four. For two of them, it's the first visit. For Louisville, it's huge.

This weekend has been talked about on fan boards, in e-mails, general discussions and on multiple web sites for weeks. This weekend is here.

MERCEDES RUSSELL
EMMONNIE HENDERSON
JORDAN REYNOLDS
ALEXIS MONTGOMERY

They're four of the half-dozen or so that Louisville desires. Imani Wright, too. Janelle Cannon already on-board with step four completed.

I have no idea what consists of a recruiting visit in women's college basketball. My best guess is they'll hit the football game versus Cincinnati Friday night. Maybe tailgate with Derty Bird, A-Tayy, Sho and Mo. Probably go see the men's scrimmage Saturday and the women's preliminary warm-ups before that in the KFC YUM! Center.

I'm sure there is "an app" for that amongst the Cardinal coaches, players, staff and impresarios that'll ensure they have a big time. They probably don't need to see me sing "Gimme Three Steps" with Robbie Bartlett's band over at the Parrish House.

Mercedes, Emmonnie, and Jordan did Tennessee last weekend. I didn't hear any verbals. Saving the best for last? We certainly hope so!

Get on the bus!
If I could sit down and talk with each girl, I'd tell them this. Get on the bus and be Cardinal Strong. That Louisville women's basketball fans are not an old, stodgy or antique breed. They're a phenomena that is young and old, fiercely proud of the program, energetic and constantly cheering for players they idolize in the hallmark of college basketball arenas.

They're alive, rapidly growing and sometimes just downright crazy, fanatical, cool, deafening and impassioned....these Cardinal fans. They're amazing. 

I'd tell them that they'd being playing for a coach that cares about them as students as well as athletes and they'd be learning from assistants, staff and trainers that are deeply committed to the concept of Cardinal hoops, personal development, character and success.

I'd tell them about the little girl in Section 114, screaming "Shoni!" at the top of her lungs, the guy up in the stands behind the media table who goes into hysterics every time a foul is called on Bria or Shawnta. I'd tell them about the three little old ladies who never miss a home game and are in their seats the minute after the doors are opened.

I'd tell them about the current Lt. Governor and former mayor who rarely misses a contest and is one of the best referee-baiters in college basketball. 

I'd tell them about the dozens of people who stop me and want to talk Cardinal women's basketball when I attend football games, charitable events, trips to WalMart or even when I'm waiting to order my Big Mac and fries. I'd tell them about the little girl, wide-eyed and grinning from ear-to-ear because Mo knelt down to talk to her, signed her poster and hugged her in the KFC YUM! Center lobby after a game.

I'd tell them about the commitment to excellence that Tom Jurich lives for in the athletic programs each and every day. About the caring professors and academic aides that want to see them succeed. About how Julie Hermann, Louisville's executive, senior, associate athletic director, never misses a home Cardinal women's event and works the crowd with the polished skill of a dignitary or politician.

I'd tell them about the Cardinal Spirit. 

I have a feeling they'll get all that and more this weekend, though. I have a feeling that they're here because they know...and they want to be a part of it.

Enjoy your visit, Mercedes, Emmonnie, Jordan and Alexis. Choose wisely. Choose thoughtfully. 

Choose Louisville. The best college sports town in the nation.

-Paulie
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8 comments:

  1. U nailed it, Paul. Brought tears to my eyes. LIC4

    --Joe Hill--

    ReplyDelete
  2. Paul, you capture beautifully, what I love about Louisville Athletics, specifically women's athletics. We are definitely a passionate bunch!
    Jenny

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's Emmonnie, not Emmonie, and she'll end up at Tennessee.

    Orange fan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I call her a Cardinal. Pat Summitt isn't walking through that door Orange Fan because of your sexist A.D.

      Delete
  4. Orange fan, we've seen it spelled both ways and we'd call her anything she wants if she ends up at Louisville. We hear her nickname is "Money"...which could cause a little confusion with Monny Niamke already on campus.

    It's a problem I'm sure Jeff Walz would gleefully sort out.

    As far as her going to UT, yes...she's been there, done that. She's in Louisville this weekend and...since it's World Series time...when you hit a home run, you gotta touch third base (Tennessee) before you get to the plate (Louisville). You stop and the plate and receive congratulations.

    Paulie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When in doubt, go to the source that never gives you false information. Facebook.
      I'm friends with Emmonnie Henderson. That solves it. Emmonnie it will be.

      Paulie

      Delete
  5. I hear Imani Wright is basically in the bag for us. Get Henderson and Russell and we have an awesome class.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Personally I am never comfortable and pretty reluctant to state what someone else is going to do. Obviously I think the very, very best decision is Louisville for a multitude of reasons but until not only is the letter signed but players are on the floor in 2013 I tend to be more reluctant to declare an outcome. Any combination of these kids with the returning players will make for an awsome team as Jeff has proven he not only can coach the player he gets but he can also develop them into greater players.

      Delete

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