This week in The Evans Seven, we examine the top recruiting pitches in college basketball. Whether it is a program's coaching pedigree, playing style, development reputation or the location, a few programs have the upper-hand when it comes making their case.
1. COACH K'S PEDIGREE
Mike Krzyzewski is the winningest Div. I coach in men’s college basketball history and has won a national championship in three-straight decades. He has coached against the legends of the game and won. He has produced such greats as Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Kyrie Irving, J.J. Redick and many others. He has changed his recruiting philosophy and won. He has coached the United States Men's National Basketball Team to gold medal runs and remains in regular contact with NBA greats LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. The pedigree of Coach K is unmatched. He has made the Duke Blue Devils one of the few bluebloods in the game, a recruiting pitch that tops all else.
2. ONE-AND-DONE IN LEXINGTON
Want to get to the NBA in the fastest way possible? While most 18- and 19-year-olds need time to cultivate their talents at the college level, there is a select few that just need a single season in the college ranks before entering the NBA Draft. What better place to spend their eight months after high school than Lexington? That is John Calipari’s demanding pitch. While there have been some that haven’t panned out, many others have worked out as planned. Calipari has produced 42 one-and-done players, and can pitch to the next prospect that they can be No. 43.
3. THE CEILING IS THE ROOF
North Carolina greats Bob McAdoo and Phil Ford established the Tar Heel brand but what makes the program so unique is that it is the home to Michael Jordan. The best to ever play the game, Jordan is a consistent presence at Tar Heel games and events as his Jump Man logo is featured prominently around the arena and on the players' uniforms. While a new era of ballplayer has grown up watching Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, Jordan’s brand is omnipresent in Chapel Hill. The chance to become the next great to don the same powder blue jersey that Jordan once donned is difficult to decline, a recruiting pitch that Roy Williams and his staff have been sure to sell.
4. ROCK CHALK CHANT
Bill Self’s ability to sell 13-straight Big 12 championships could be placed here but, instead, the mystique Allen Fieldhouse that take precedence. There is nothing quite like the home of the Jayhawks. Opened in 1955 but aided by a number of recent renovations, Allen Fieldhouse isn’t about the cozy seats or the panoramic video screens but more about the atmosphere and the fan support that inhabits it. Wilt Chamberlain, JoJo White, Danny Manning and Drew Gooden are just a few of the greats that have suited up on the lauded hardwood. Once the Rock Chalk Chant begins, announcing another Kansas victory, all Self has to do is ask the prospect if they want to commit now or wait until they get back to the locker room.
5. HOOSIER FAITHFUL
The state of Indiana breathes, sleeps and eats basketball. When its flagship basketball program is clicking on all cylinders, the sport as a whole is better because of it. Despite a rather down few years at Indiana, attendance numbers remain among the best in America. In 2009, during the program’s worst recorded season in its storied history, IU sat within the top-20 in attendance numbers. While Indiana fans demand excellence, their support is a major sell for the coaching staff in Bloomington. Archie Miller can sell the Hoosier pedigree and playing in the Big Ten but the fan support and atmosphere within Assembly Hall trumps all else.
6. THE SWOOSH FACTOR AT OREGON
It was around 10 years ago that Chip Kelly changed the face of the uniform game thanks to the exponential backing of Phil Knight. The founder of Nike, Knight, who is worth around $25 billion and recently endowed $500 million to the university, is the game changer for his alma mater. Dana Altman has taken the baton from his football counterparts and, with the continued backing of Knight, successfully hit on the apparel pitch that the Ducks can offer. The Ducks sit with the third-ranked recruiting class in America this fall and while the Nike connection is not the primary deciding factor, kids love to look good and have the freshest gear, a recruiting pitch that ranks high on Altman and his staff’s list.
7. MICHIGAN STATE'S BACKGROUND WITH IN-STATERS
There might not be a better program at winning with in-state talent than Michigan State. The pitch first picked up steam in 2000 thanks to the Flinstones, a talented group of individuals from Flint, Mich., including Mateen Cleaves, Jason Richardson and Morris Peterson, that achieved Izzo’s first and only national championship. Since then, the Spartans have practically shut down the borders. Whether it was Draymond Green, Denzel Valentine or Miles Bridges, the catalyst for successful Spartans’ teams have called the state of Michigan as home. In the 2018 class alone, a top-five recruiting haul, all five members are from the state, giving credence to the Spartans’ recruiting pitch.