Monday, July 6, 2009
Just a Minute with Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports
Jeff Goodman, the senior college basketball writer for Fox Sports, is one of the best in the business. The Boston native started at the grassroots level, bouncing around the country during the travel team schedule from April to July. He parlayed his work into a plush gig at Fox Sports. His blog on FoxSports.com is one of the must-read stops on the Internet for college basketball addicts. The National Hoops Report caught up with Goodman and ran through a number of topics.
In your years of covering college basketball and high school hoops, do you recall a year where so many players at the top had as wild of recruitments?
“You can certainly look at the (Michael) Beasley, (O.J.) Mayo, (Derrick) Rose class and there were certainly some questionable ones there, too. Eric Gordon and Bill Walker were in there, too. Five of the top seven, according to Scout.com, had stranger recruitments. The only two that weren’t were Kevin Love and Kyle Singler. Mayo’s recruitment was a mess. Beasley committed as a freshman to Charlotte because of Dalonte Hill and then to Kansas State. Eric Gordon was committed to Illinois then Kelvin Sampson comes along. He and (assistant coach) Jeff Meyer didn’t care about the commitment and they followed him everywhere in July despite him being committed. Derrick Rose never really spoke to any head coaches, maybe other than (John) Calipari. And Bill Walker went to school early to go to Kansas State. But this (2009) class takes the cake, at least for me and as long as I’ve been involved. This class was wild. I told Evan Daniels of Scout.com, even Derrick Favors, who is as normal of any of the kids in 2009, even he picked three schools that were either fired or on the hot seat (Georgia Tech, Georgia and N.C. State). And he’s as normal as it got and his recruitment was not normal. This class (of 2009) is a mess when it comes to drama. I’ve never seen anything like it. It seemed like everybody had something about their recruitment, expect for maybe John Henson (who is going to North Carolina).”
In your conversations with the college coaches, what has been the vibe with them going into the busy July recruiting month after not being allowed to evaluate in the April period for the first time this year? Are coaches more confused because of the lack of face time or are they more prepared because they’ve had much more time to really research who is out there?
“I think coaches are much more in the dark and not really sure what to expect. They are going into it knowing that they are going to have to make quick decisions and I know a lot of them are fearful of that fact because they don’t have as much information and not armed with as much stuff on these kids as they have had in the past. Let’s face it, the restrictions that are placed on them for things just off the court make it hard enough to figure out who they really want to go after. Now the coaches are faced with another set of uncertainties with who they go after because they don’t know enough about the kids on the court. I think they know that more mistakes are going to be made around the country with regards to recruiting. I don’t know what my transfer list is up to now but it has to be up to 300 or so. This class could even top that. Everyone is going to make even more mistakes because no one had a chance to look at the kids in April.”
You mentioned your transfer list. How much has that really evolved into your identity in the college basketball world?
“I think coaches really look forward to it. It’s funny how it has evolved. When I got into this industry, I had to find my niche. What could I do that would show that I am willing to outwork everyone else? What could I do differently? Honestly, keeping it up is really a big pain in the you-know-what in order to compile it. But I feel like it is something that coaches want from me. I’ve had coaches tell me that they have landed kids from the list simply because they didn’t know that the player was transferring. They read about the kid on the list. I think it helps the kids, too. I’ll have parents call me and they want to get their kids on the list. They know it is going to bring them that exposure. Every level looks at it. Deep down, I like the fact that I was able to help one kid make a smart move to a new situation that may have slipped through the cracks. The list helps everyone in Division I, the Division IIs and the NAIA schools. I feel like college basketball is not just about the top 25 schools in the country.”
What is the biggest issue you’d like to see the NCAA really target to help the game, if it needs to be helped at all in your opinion.
“Oh, it definitely needs to be helped. There are too many things to really get into. To start, and I know it’s going to be hard, but there has to be a collective cleaning up the sport. I’ve got to figure that there is a way to clean this thing up. Right now the cheating that goes on in college basketball is similar to what steroids was in baseball 10 years ago. People knew it existed but no one wants to face it. Then all of the sudden, it exploded. I think that may happen in basketball. There are a lot of grey areas. There is cheating. And there is not a lot of guys that are not doing that would fall in the grey area. There are some. But there is not a ton. I don’t know where the NCAA starts to clean it up. You do have to make guys accountable though. So if a guy gets in trouble and if they get caught with anything, then they know that their career is on the line. That’s it. You get one chance. I think head coaches have to do a better job of reeling in their assistant coaches and policing them better. I think a lot of head coaches just look the other way and say ‘Just do what you gotta do.’ And if it doesn’t come back to them, then they are okay with that.” The other thing the NCAA has to do is let the coaches work with their players in the off-season and in the summer. Because you know who is working with them during that time? Players are regressing because they are working with all of these so-called “workout guys” that are for the most part runners for agents or tied in with agents. They are working with the wrong people and have their best interest at heart. I’d much rather see a kid workout with his college coach and staff in July and August then some so-called workout guru.”
Should you buy a condo or a timeshare in Lexington, Kentucky this year? Chances are you’ll be there quite a bit when the hoops season rolls around in the winter.
“Well, I know I’ll be there for their Midnight Madness. How can I not? I was there two years ago when Billy Gilliespie came out of the curtain and they went crazy for him. I can’t imagine what it is going to be like when Calipari walks out for the first time. With this recruiting class and with this team, I mean, that place is going to be nuts. How he got Patrick Patterson to come back to school in a year where it’s one of the weakest drafts ever and not even go through the process is amazing. It just goes to show that he’s one of the best salesmen I’ve ever seen.”
Is Calipari and Kentucky the biggest storyline going into this college basketball season?
“No doubt about. Kansas is number one and no one is even talking about Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich coming back to school. All anyone wants to talk about is Kentucky, Calipari and that recruiting class. Obviously Kentucky fans are so rabid and that’s what the majority of the scene is filled with - Kentucky fans. I do think it’s funny how a perception of a coach can change so quickly. They hated John Calipari and I used to get the emails from Kentucky fans saying how much they hated him and how shady they thought he was. They have obviously changed their tune now that he is at Kentucky.”
The one and done rule has changed college basketball over the last four years. Do you think guys like John Wall and players of his caliber should have to go to college for a minimum of one season? Has the rule been successful?
“I love the one and done rule for the simple fact that we got Kevin Durant for a year in college. That’s about as good of a package as you can find. He’s going back to class now to try to get his degree at Texas. He was what was great about the one and done rule. But for every Kevin Durant, there are 10 other kids that really have no desire to be in college. They don’t want to be in the college realm. They just want to use it to get to the next level. When the next collective bargaining agreement comes up, I think they need to change it and let these kids go to the pros out of high school. I hope that helps clean up the sport. I know some people think that the rule has played into the recent allegations with O.J. Mayo and Derrick Rose. If those guys can go pro out of high school, things won’t just be hunky-dory. They won’t. There will certainly be other issues because it will be the next tier of prospects that will have the same issues. I don’t think issues or problems will be eliminated. I just think these elite level kids don’t really want to be in college. It could solve some of the problems. I think most college coaches, if you talk them, are on the same page. They want to see these kids go pro out of high school or make them stay two or three years. I’d be fine with them having to go two years because they’d be halfway to getting their degree.”
Favorite event you go to in July: Definitely the Peach Jam.
Best place to eat on the road: There is a soul food cafeteria in Augusta, Georgia that I go to when I'm at the Peach Jam. Incredible.
Best hotel: Palms or Hard Rock in Vegas.
Best Sports Information Director in the country: That’s a tie between Texas’s Scott McConnell and Florida’s Fred Demarest.
Best quote in the country: Tom Izzo of Michigan State and Bill Self at Kansas.
Are you part of the Twitter fascination?: I am, I am. A friend of mine told me about it before the NCAA tournament and I signed up but I have no idea on what it was or how much it would help. I still don’t know what I’m doing. For the most part, I’ll just link stories or blog entries on there.
Who are your top five players in the class of 2010?: I haven't seen all of the players in the country, but I'll take a stab at the top 5 in the Class of 2010:
1) Harrison Barnes
2) Brandon Knight
3) Tristan Thompson
4) Josh Smith
5) Will Barton
Archived Just a Minute stories:
Dave Telep, Scout.com