UK basketball notebook: AAU coach laments July 'cattle show'

Ex-Pitino assistant says recruiting overshadows game

Herald-Leader Staff WriterJuly 10, 2011 

Jerry Tipton

Kaleb Tarczewski, a 7-footer from Southborough, Mass., had to decline interview requests at the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis last week. "My coach doesn't want us doing interviews," he said.

So, reporters approached the AAU coach, John Carroll, to explain this unusual policy.

"I don't want to sound like a jerk," Carroll said before motioning toward a player from the opposing team talking to a reporter courtside after the game.

"His team lost by 30 and he's talking to reporters? He should go back to the hotel and think about how to get better."

Carroll is not the typical AAU coach. He's worked as an assistant coach on the college level. He was on the P.J. Carlesimo staff at Seton Hall in the late 1980s when he waited to hear if Carlesimo might become the Kentucky coach. Later, Carroll was on Rick Pitino's staff with the Boston Celtics.

Carroll knows basketball. To his eye, basketball was not on display in Indianapolis.

"People think this is real basketball," Carroll said in lamenting the "glorification" that typifies July recruiting camps. "It's not. It's horse (manure) basketball."

Carroll cited the diminished role of high school coaches as a factor in players drifting away from playing the game correctly.

The camps serve a worthy purpose in helping players get college scholarships, Carroll acknowledged.

Noting what he called the "cattle show," Carroll said he prohibited interviews in an attempt "to control how bizarre" the July camps can be.

Interviews "take away from what it should be about: getting better and playing basketball," Carroll said. "There's so much (B.S.). So much parental nonsense. It's nonsense."

UK not for him

All boys growing up in Kentucky want to play basketball for UK, right? Not exactly.

Chris Harrison-Docks, the son of former UK player Chris Harrison, did not want to play for the Cats.

"I never wanted to play for Kentucky," he said last week at the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis. "I didn't bleed blue."

Harrison-Docks no longer has a relationship with his father. He added his stepfather's last name to his own. "I refer to him as my father," he said. "He's been there for me my whole life."

After playing as a freshman for Louisville Trinity, he moved with his family to Okemos, Mich. The firing of Billy Gillispie in 2009 ended UK's recruiting interest. That was fine with Harrison-Docks, who has committed to Butler.

Harrison-Docks bears an unmistakable resemblance to his father. Similar coloring. Similar build. Watching him play in Indianapolis, he seemed more a pass-first point guard than his father, who led Tollesboro High and the state of Kentucky by averaging 29.4 points as a senior 20 years ago.

"I don't really talk to my father any more," Harrison-Docks said. "I didn't want to be in his shadow. I wanted to be where I was not Chris Harrison's son. I've heard that all my life."

Camps for referees

The off-season camps serve a largely overlooked purpose. They help major Division I leagues identify candidates to become referees.

It's not an inexpensive proposition. Greg Culotta, 49, a lawyer and a referee on the Division II and junior college levels, said he and other officials paid $550 to work games in the Adidas Invitational.

It's not unusual for referees to work seven or eight camps an off-season, paying as much as $800 a site, to work games and try to progress in the profession, Culotta said.

The camps help ambitious referees get acquainted with seeing superior athletes, Culotta said. In a sense, the camps help referees deal with stressful situations.

"When Coach (John) Calipari comes screaming at you, are you going to freeze?" Culotta said.

Supervisors from major conferences watch the referees work camp games, offer advice and look for candidates to promote.

College as way station

Last week's camps in Indianapolis and Akron provided further evidence that college has gone from destination to way station for elite players. Here's a sampling of views on the one-and-done rule and the possibility of leaving for the NBA months after arriving.

Perry Ellis: "I just want to go to college and do my best. Whatever happens, happens. If I stay, I stay."

Shabazz Muhammad: "I think it's a great rule (the one-and-done). Guys need to get their books in." By the way, speculation has Muhammad, the No. 1 player in the class of 2012, as UCLA-bound.

Then there's Jared Sullinger, who worked the LeBron James Skills Academy as a counselor. Despite being an All-American as a freshman, he chose to play for Ohio State as a sophomore next season.

When asked why he decided to return to Ohio State, Sullinger said, "Me being a kid. You can only be a kid once in life. I don't want to (deal with) taxes, apartments and cars. I don't want to pay a car note or pay the rent. There's just a lot of stuff that goes with being an NBA athlete."

Director's Cup

Earlier this month, UK noted its 36th-place finish in the Director's Cup standings for 2010-11. The Director's Cup annually recognizes achievement by athletic departments.

Stanford finished first for a 17th straight year. Ohio State, California, Florida and Duke rounded out the top five.

Among SEC schools, Kentucky finished eighth, trailing Florida (fourth), LSU (19th), Georgia (20th), Tennessee (22nd), Arkansas (24th), Alabama (25th) and Auburn (31st).

Among schools in the region, Kentucky finished third behind Indiana (28th) and Louisville (34th).

Kentucky, which had a record-high finish of 29th in 2009-10, continues to build toward Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart's 2008 goal of 15 Southeastern Conference or national championships and a top-15 finish in the Director's Cup by 2015.

For this, a large portion of credit goes to the sport of rifle. In 2010-11, the UK shooters won the 2011 national championship and the Great American Rifle Conference regular-season crown.

Reader Tom Atkinson read about Kentucky's finish in the Director's Cup on the UK Web site's Cat Scratches feature. He was underwhelmed.

"Who would have thought 'rifle' would be the major sport at Kentucky? Can you get season tickets?" he wrote, presumably facetiously, in an email.

After noting that UK had seven championships (four in rifle, three in basketball) as a start toward the goal of 15, Atkinson wrote, "Maybe we should tear down the football stadium and put up a paint ball complex. You know, just in case they make that an NCAA sport."

Atkinson, a native of Paris, is retired and living with his wife, Sue, in Florida. He coached high school football at Maysville and worked as a United States Probation Officer in Lexington.

'A Peek Inside'

Finance professor Joe Peek, the faculty representative on UK's Board of Trustees, issues periodic updates in a newsletter titled A Peek Inside.

With the usual playful irreverence sprinkled throughout, Peek's most recent report arrived last week and included wins and losses of the 2010-11 school year. That's wins and losses from the perspective of the UK faculty.

The wins included:

■ "A revolt by faculty stopped the UKAA proposal to borrow money from UK to fund a new scoreboard for Commonwealth Stadium," Peek wrote. "(I guess UK administrators decided that the faculty were revolting. Don't need a scoreboard for that one.)

"But the real issue was not the loan. It had to do with highlighting priorities. So I guess resistance isn't futile after all (actually, it's voltage divided by amperage — Ohm. My, a little something for the newest member of our Electrical Engineering faculty)."

■ "We now have an increased awareness of financial accountability by members of the BOT. One thing that came out of the scoreboard discussion was a statement by BOT Chair (Britt) Brockman that his sense was that in the future, the UK administration should provide the financial justification underlying funding requests brought to the BOT."

In summing up the year, Peek put his achievements in the context of UK athletics."With a first-year won-loss record like this (and none of mine have been vacated ... yet)," he wrote, "I check my messages each day expecting to hear that I have been awarded a contract extension and substantial pay raise. After all, if Joker Phillips went 9-2, even in his second year, I am sure he would receive a major contract extension and raise."

Vacation explanation

When UK complied with a Committee on Infractions request and admitted it made a mistake in recognizing John Calipari's 500th coaching victory, a big question remained. How can the NCAA justify an apparent inconsistent enforcement of vacated victories?

UK must admit it should have subtracted the 42 vacated victories from Calipari's career total. Meanwhile, UMass continues to hang a banner in recognition of the vacated Calipari-led Final Four appearance in 1996.

Huh?

Stacey Osburn, an associate director of public and media relations for the NCAA, tried to explain through a statement.

"As members of the NCAA, each school that has the vacation of records penalty is responsible for ensuring that it is adhering appropriately to the conditions of the penalty," she wrote. "In addition, any school that has questions about how its institutional or coaching records are affected can contact the NCAA. The Committee on Infractions will look into any reports of schools that have not followed the conditions of its vacation penalty."

Then getting to the apparent inconsistencies, Osburn wrote, "It is important to note that the language of this penalty has changed over the last several years to more specifically outline the conditions, such as the impact on the head coach's record or the display of banners. For this reason, the public report of a specific case should be consulted to identify the parameters of the vacation for any affected school or coach."

Be like Mike

If prospect Austin Colbert has a motto, it's Be Like Mike. That's Mike Kidd-Gilchrist, one of the highly regarded freshmen joining Kentucky's team this coming season.

Colbert, a 6-9 junior-to-be, played with Kidd-Gilchrist at St. Patrick's High School in New Jersey last season. To hear him at the LeBron James Skills Academy on Friday, Colbert considers Gilchrist an example to follow.

"He's somebody I really look up to," Colbert said at the LeBron James Skills Academy. "He's like a big brother.

"He's taught me a lot. Like how to be a leader. Always keep your head up no matter what. Don't let anybody see you down."

Kidd-Gilchrist also led by example, by simply playing hard, Colbert said.

The two stay in touch. Kidd-Gilchrist was at the Skills Academy as a counselor.

When asked what Kidd-Gilchrist says about the UK experience so far, Colbert said, "He says he loves it. How everybody is so warm and welcoming on campus."

So far, Colbert's recruitment does not include Kentucky. "Not yet," he said. A 3.0 student, he said he'd heard from schools in the Big East, ACC, Big Ten, Ivy League and SEC (Florida).

Canadian import

Anthony Bennett, a 6-7, 242-pound forward for Findlay Prep, is a native of Toronto.

When asked what college programs had offered scholarships, he matter-of-factly began naming schools: Florida, UConn, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Xavier, Kentucky, ...

Then it got confusing.

"I think North Carolina," he said, "and I think Duke."

Huh?

"When I spoke to (North Carolina) on the phone, they said I was a great player and they'd really like to have me," Bennett said. As for Duke, "I haven't heard from them lately," he said. "But I know they have interest."

But apparently, UNC and Duke had not directly offered a scholarship just yet.

Happy birthday

To former UK forward Bernard Cote. He turns 29 on Tuesday.

Jerry Tipton covers UK basketball for the Herald-Leader. This article contains his opinions and observations. Reach him at jtipton@herald-leader.com.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service