We talked about recruiting and corruption in college sports on Wednesday, so there's no need to rehash that whole discussion. Especially since I like college sports, and it's no fun to have someone sitting around all day whining about integrity and hypocrisy and all the other issues that inevitably come into play with the NCAA.
BALTIMORE — Last Friday evening, Josh Selby, the nation’s most explosive high school guard yet to commit to a college, walked out the back door of Lake Clifton High School here with the Tennessee assistant. The two kept chatting as they approached a light-blue Mercedes-Benz with tinted windows. Selby, keys in hand, popped the trunk, threw sneakers in it and joked with Forbes. Selby said goodbye, and drove away.
So it seems the top five recruit casually hopping into a Mercedes-Benz right in front of a New York Times reporter has aroused suspicion from the NCAA. Shocking.
But a closer look at Selby's situation is more complicated. First of all, the groveling from Kansas' Bill Self and other suitors is sort of cringe-inducing/awe-inspiring. Imagine living in this world:
Kansas Coach Bill Self joked that his whole staff would be fired if Selby did not sign with the Jayhawks. An Indiana fan wrote on his Facebook page that he would slap his own mother to have Selby suit up for the Hoosiers.
Runners for agents have called, sent e-mail messages and walked up to his mother at gyms. [His mother] is currently taking online courses in sports management to better understand what is happening with her son. ... Shortly after midnight on the first date that coaches could visit prospects in their homes, UConn Coach Jim Calhoun and an assistant showed up at Frazier’s door.
“I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ ” Selby said. “I thought I was dreaming.”
The NCAA scrutiny centers on Selby's relationship with a man named Robert "Bay" Frazier, someone his mother's known since elementary school, currently working as an agent for Carmelo Anthony.
And frankly, it's sort of unclear as to whether Frazier's acting as a friend of the family—shepherding Selby through this seedy underworld—or whether he's Selby's unofficial agent—an unspoken agreement that bring benefits to both sides, but violates the NCAA's bylaws in letter and spirit. Or maybe Frazier's both.
And could we really blame Josh Selby? This is a kid whose world looks very different than the NCAA's Indianapolis. Again from the Times profile:
As a single mother, Witherspoon said she had done all that she could to help educate her son. She attributes most of the ups and downs of his development to her own trial-and-error approach to life. Selby said he had seen drug transactions and a pistol-whipping in his East Baltimore neighborhood.
“Deaths here make us look like the L.A.,” Witherspoon said. “Back-to-back-to-back.”
So what if Bay Frazier is both friend and business associate? Look at Josh Selby's dueling worlds—East Baltimore and the machine of big time amateur sports. Both are filled with hustlers and wrong turns and temptations, governed by a murky morality that's far beyond the purview of anyone to fully understand, let alone a teenager and his single mother.
I promised this wouldn't turn into another screed about the NCAA, so I'll leave this question open-ended... Selby's mother freely admits to a trial-and-error approach to navigating the first world; so where's the crime in enlisting a trusted professional to navigate the second?