Bossi's Best: Memorable announcements, signings
The early signing period is here and prospects around the country will spend it making their commitments official. In a signing day edition of Bossi’s Best, National Basketball Analyst Eric Bossi takes a look back at some of the more memorable signings, decisions, notorious commitment capers and changes of heart.
CLIFF ALEXANDER PUMP FAKES ILLINOIS
Yes, there were hats from DePaul and Memphis on the table. But when five-star big man Cliff Alexander got ready to announce his college commitment during ESPN's signing day special, everybody knew that the choice would be Illinois or Kansas.
After a short speech, Alexander reached for the Illinois hat and picked it up briefly before putting it back down and donning the Kansas hat. The moment has been immortalized on YouTube where there are a handful of videos showing Illini fans going from ecstasy to agony as they realized that Alexander had pulled off the commitment pump fake.
The pump fake from Alexander was a culmination of what has to be one of the toughest signing week experiences for any program in recent history as you will see later on in this article.
HARRISON BARNES SKYPES ROY WILLIAMS
In front of a capacity crowd at the Ames (Iowa) High gym, Harrison Barnes found a unique way to announce his college commitment during signing week.
Expected by many to choose Duke, the small forward set up a Skype call and after a short speech dialed up his future head coach. However, it was Roy Williams and not Mike Krzyzewski who answered the call and Barnes delivered the news to Williams – and the entire North Carolina team, which had taken a break from afternoon practice to be ready in case Barnes called – that he would play his college ball in Chapel Hill.
BARON DAVIS' HAT TRICK
One of the more notorious commitment announcements actually happened before Rivals.com even existed. And the story of Baron Davis is certainly one for the ages.
A highly touted point guard from Los Angeles in the class of 1997, Davis canceled fall visits to Duke and Kansas to commit to hometown UCLA. However, Davis didn't sign early after the then Pac-10 looked into Davis' sister's purchase of a car from then-UCLA head coach Jim Harrick.
Harrick was fired to start the season and his replacement, Steve Lavin, continued to recruit Davis – who was cleared of any wrongdoing – but as his senior season went on, many figured that Davis would ultimately choose Kansas.
By the time Davis was ready to decide in late April his decision was televised locally by Fox Sports as part of a Clippers pregame show. In a move that hasn't been forgotten, Davis threw a Kansas hat (and a Georgia Tech one) to the floor before putting on a Bruins cap and announcing that he would be staying home.
TERRENCE JONES' COMMITMENT REMORSE
A late April day in Portland looked as if it would be a monster one for the University of Washington.
During a joint announcement, four-star wing Terrence Ross and five-star forward Terrence Jones revealed their college decisions. First Ross announced for the Huskies and then it was Jones' turn to announce.
That's when the drama began. Almost immediately after choosing Washington, Jones spoke with Kentucky's John Calipari and the other coaches he didn't pick and he ended up not signing a letter of intent. After a few weeks of indecision, Jones ended up having a change of heart and ultimately going with Coach Cal and the Wildcats.
NERLENS NOEL'S HAIRCUT
One of the players at the forefront of the reclassification trend, shot-blocking machine Nerlens Noel made excellent use of his trademark hair when it came time to announce his college decision.
Though his choice actually came during the late signing period, it doesn't diminish his creativity.
Known for his high top fade haircut, Noel went on ESPN and announced that he would be "taking his talents to" before pausing and spinning around in his chair to reval the UK.
TONY PARKER'S NEVER-ENDING COMMITMENT CEREMONY
Commitment ceremonies have been around pretty much since the start of recruiting and aren't going anywhere. For the most part they are brief with a coach or school administrator saying a few words and then the player and perhaps a family member or two speaking before an announcement. Sometimes there is even a highlight video.
The day Tony Parker picked UCLA in April of 2012, well it was more like one of those wedding reception or rehearsal dinners where everybody just had to stand up and make a speech. Not only were parents, administrators and coaches speaking before a highlight video was played at Parker's announcement, there was even a reading of a poem dedicated to him.
Live-streamed on the Internet, the ceremony was watched closely and was one of the first that was live tweeted with any kind of intensity.
To his credit, Parker has been very good-natured about the spectacle over the years. But, it was very much one for the ages.
RICK RICKERT'S FATHER GETS HIS WAY
Rickert even verbally committed to the Wildcats. But behind the scenes there was a storm brewing as it became apparent that Rickert's father, Lew, was not happy with the choice and wanted his son to play for the Gophers.
On the day that Rickert signed his letter of intent, he showed up wearing an Arizona hat before signing with Minnesota. Rickert said some nice things and the local media spun it into a feel good story, but there's never been much question that Rickert was pretty much directed by his father to sign with Minnesota even though he didn't want that.
Then-coach Dan Monson said at the time that it was the only time he had ever recruited a committed player and that it was too important to the state of Minnesota that Rickert play for the Gophers to give up. It's also interesting to note that pulling Rickert away from Arizona and Lute Olson was a bit of a score even for the Monson family. Years before that, Olson had successfully recruited Damon Stoudemire away from his commitment to Monson's father, Don, who was the head coach at Oregon.
QUENTIN SNIDER'S BOOMERANG OF A DECISION
It was mentioned above that the early signing period for the class of 2014 wasn't kind to Illinois. Not only did Cliff Alexander pump fake the Illini on national television, they were unexpectedly left at the alter by four-star point guard Quentin Snider.
Snider had initially committed to hometown Louisville very early in the process. But eventually, Snider decided that he had rushed into his decision and after some visits he ended up committing to Illinois.
When signing day came around, rather than signing with the Illini, Snider and his family informed the Illinois staff that he would not be playing for them before signing with his original pick, Louisville.
STEWART TWINS MISLEAD SEATTLE MEDIA
Freak athletes who had a devoted following, the Stewart twins had plans to announce their college decision during a Sunday night spot on local television. However, in advance of their decision word began to leak that they would choose USC and not hometown Washington.
The day before their commitment, the twins and their father Bull Stewart did what any reasonable people would do. They told the Seattle Times that they would be committing to Washington and the Times and other local news outlets ran Sunday stories that the twins would play for the Huskies. When Sunday night came around, they went on television and instead of confirming their Washington choice they announced their commitment to Henry Bibby and the Trojans.
Shortly after, the elder Stewart admitted that he and his sons had purposely misled the local media in order to keep their true intentions a secret.