The airline industry is not a big fan of the class of 2005. Parents are trading in their e-tickets, $7 meal boxes and $5 headphones for gasoline at the local fuel stop and road maps. This senior class is staying home and in-state this year, evident by today’s commitments from Richard Hendrix and C.J. Miles. The nation’s best players will be doing laundry and raiding the cupboards more than they have been. Sorry mom.
Home Sweet Home
Calvin Miles is a Texas Longhorn.
Richard Hendrix will play for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The wait is now over. Neither pick is a big surprise, is it? The recruiting theorists have come to the conclusion that the longer a player waits to pick a school mixed with a press conference, that player tends to pick the home school. Both players followed that pattern. Are you reading this, Oliver Stone?
Miles joins LaMarcus Aldridge, Daniel Gibson, Brad Buckman and T.J. Ford as the top players to stay deep in the heart of Texas.
Same goes for Hendrix and the Tide.
Alabama is no stranger to in landing Mr. Alabama Basketball. Ron Steele, the first and only two-time winner of the award, is now a Tide freshman. Kennedy Winston won it the year before. Gerald Wallace, another Mr. Alabama Basketball, rolled with the program for a year before going pro. And although Richard Hendrix hasn’t officially won the award yet, he most likely will. He announced today that he would join that legacy.
Top Dogs Not Going Anywhere
Hendrix and Miles are just two of the many players who have been recruited at a national level but decided to lace ‘em up for the local program. It’s happening everywhere.
The trend rings the loudest in Washington. The University of Washington has never had the success that they’ve had keeping kids close to home. In fact, of all years, this was the year to recruit the Emerald City. Seattle is one of the nation’s hotbeds for talent. Five players from the area are ranked in the Rivals150 and head coach Lorenzo Romar knows it.
He and his staff recently landed Martell Webster, perhaps the best high school player to ever come out of Seattle. (Debate that one on the message boards.) Add to the fact that the Huskies landed Jon Brockman over Duke. Yeah, that Duke. The forward said staying close to home had a big impact in his decision. The Huskies drove down I-5 to rural Toledo, Wash., for Artem Wallace, one of the toughest players on the West Coast.
Georgia is no stranger to getting the best home grown talent. Coach Dennis Felton was a happy man this summer as he watch two of his verbal commitments, and top two players in the nation, Louis Williams and Mike Mercer dominate the AAU circuit. Both players could have picked any program in the country, but both said the same thing on why they wanted to be Bulldogs. UGA is a short drive away from their homes in Gwinnett County.
Residents of Florida are accustomed to evacuating the state this time of year. Not the hoops stars. They are staying put. The three power programs, Florida, Florida State and Miami, have a combined total of seven commitments and possibly eight if the state’s top player, Keith Brumbaugh, commits to FSU. Players are rarely leaving the sunshine.
Of all the schools in the country, St. John’s is doing all that it can to fix the roads to Madison Square Garden. When Norm Roberts took the job at the Big East school, he said he would keep the best Big Apple players home. So far, so good. Ricky Torres picked the Red Storm and Levance Fields is one of the primary targets. Fans are coming back to the program because the familiar faces are growing older under Roberts.
National programs such as Arizona, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina and UConn will still land players from all over the world. That will never change. But sometimes, especially this year, kids believe they can make Home State U a national power, too.
Lonely Star State
With Miles’ decision to stay in state and play for the Longhorns, Texans everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief. Leaving the state seemed like the thing to do this year. Only nine of the top 25 players in the state decided to keep TX in their address line.
All four of Baylor’s commitments are from Texas, and they aren’t run of the mill players, either. Kevin Rogers turned down elite high-majors for the opportunity to play a short drive away. Baylor is one of the few programs in Texas that kept Lone Star kids home.
Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, SMU and TCU have all landed players within the borders but the best players have left the state. In fact, five of the top 11 players are headed to the state of Oklahoma.