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Two Interesting Stories From Ben Sherman

Ben Sherman has two really interesting things up on his site, one
being an interview with Jamal Sampson,
nephew of Ralph.  He says in his
interview that UNC is currently the leader, and that Arizona may be second.
About Arizona he says that "Loren Woods will be gone by the time I get there, so there will be an
open spot to play." 

This is interesting, since UNC has two guys who should currently be in front
of him - Kris Lang who will be a junior next season and a senior if/when Sampson
shows up in Chapel Hill, and Jason Parker, assuming he actually qualifies. 
Throw Lang out for the moment - what's up with Parker and Sampson? Is UNC
expecting Parker to go early - that early? Or are they thinking that he won't
make his SAT scores (and it has been a struggle for him, obviously). 
Whatever it is, given UNC's oft-stated policy to not recruit over people (like
maybe Max Owens or Brian Bersticker or Michael Brooker?),  it's interesting
that he would consider that a positive situation (He also said this in his
interview: "Well, I wouldn't mind having to work my way into the lineup. I just don't want to go where I would see positively no playing time my freshman year.
).

A lot of web interviews with recruits are really interesting because the
recruits haven't been programmed/conditioned like the guys who are already in
the program are.  Kareem Rush and Omar Cook spring to mind as guys who say
things that are revealing but frustrating to their prospective programs.

Anyway, he says Duke has slipped on his list, and that Coach K isn't really
his "type," whatever that means, and that he plans to take a visit but
probably won't go there.  He suggests that Krzyzewski doesn't play
freshman, which will come as a surprise to Boozer, Williams, Dunleavy, 
Carrawell,  Brand, Battier, and Langdon, to name a few recent freshmen who
played a lot. Anyway, a visit is a two way concern, and if he has publicly said
he's not sure about various issues at Duke, like Roy Williams at Kansas with
Kareem Rush, the Duke coaching staff may decide to use the visit on someone who
is a little more interested. Not that we'd know, but often coaches at various
schools don't like being discussed in this way, the most recent example being
Omar Cook, who was dropped by UNC after perhaps overestimating his hand with
Bill Guthridge.

Another interesting tidbit - he says the UNC staff told him they are only
recruiting two players - he believes the other one is James White, also a Duke
target.  That's the kind of thing that of course the UNC program isn't
allowed to say but would never in a million years even if they could - just like
any other program.  That's a great thing about kids - they'll say things
that the grownups would never say, and say them with considerable innocence.

The grownups are often much bigger problems. Take what happened to Ben at the
Boo Williams Invitational.  Apparently Nike sold the on-line media rights
to an apparently Virginia-based site (the partners are all from Virginia as far
as we can tell) called www.sportscombine.com. 
The ins and outs of that kind of thing we don't know, but since any team or
league can issue or deny press passes, we assume they are within their
rights.  But here's where it gets screwy:

Ben and the two guys he went with were treated, for the most part, like
anyone else, but a guy named Glenn told them that they could not take
pictures.  Ben went ahead and took some pictures later in the evening, and
Glenn popped up. Ben showed him the press pass and Glenn, by Ben's account, grabbed
the press pass around his neck and tried to pull it off of him
, leaving
marks on him in the process.

We're pretty sure that legally Nike can sell the rights, and certainly
whoever issues or denies the passes can issue and deny as they see fit, but the
fact is that these guys had press passes, were apparently not told beforehand
that they weren't considered part of the media (hard to understand since they
had passes), and regardless, they certainly had no business being roughed
up.  We don't know the other guys, but we know if Ben were asked to leave
he would have left. There was simply no need for what Ben says happened.

Anyway, it may be a moot point, as
the NCAA appears poised to eliminate summer events.
Since only a fraction
of these guys can really have hopes of jumping to the NBA, the rest are there
trying to get scholarship offers, and if the coaches are forbidden, the need for
big tourneys is lessened considerably.

One of the small ironies of this whole account is that one of the partners of
sportscombine is The Richmond Times-Dispatch. In the 60s, the newspaper,
possibly pre-merger but we can't remember, was headed by James Kilpatrick, later
a noted word maven.  When desegregation was ordered for Richmond, the
newspaper was in the forefront of the resistance.  If we remember
correctly, Richmond schools actually shut down for a year.

Now, mere decades later, they are not only profiting from schoolboy athletes,
the majority of whom are black, as is true at every level of American
basketball, but they are severely clamping down on who is allowed to actually
cover these kids and thus to profit as well.  You have to point to the progress that has been made
since the 1960's and certainly the 1860's, and take some measure of
happiness in the affirmation of humanity, but on the flipside, the Civil War
was, by one argument, a dispute over property rights.  It's kind of
startling to think that Ben ran into an faint antebellum echo of that
argument, and it's certainly ironic, on at least two counts,  that The
Times-Dispatch is in the heart of an argument over who can profit on the
physical labor of what is, to a large extent, young black men, particularly
since most of them will never see any meaningful direct profit themselves,
education of course excluded.  But as anyone who has gotten close enough to
the scene to get a whiff will tell you, education is not exactly the highest
priority.  The kids can be forgiven, being kids, and we know we keep saying
this, but the adults, by and large, have a lot to answer for.