From a mainstream movie anyway. I’m talking about “Air” and how it felt to get the lesson yet again that, as much as I do know or think I know about hoops, there are always nuances that only the true experts (not me) catch.*
*Don’t worry, I’ll get to the recruiting stuff in a minute, and this anecdote is actually germane to the topic.
In the movie which lays out how Nike snared Michael Jordan after the ’84 draft away from adidas and Converse, there’s a fascinating scene with Phil Knight’s (Ben Affleck) recruiter in chief, Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon).
He’s trying to figure out whom to try to get as a client by watching videos of the highest draft picks that year. And he’s put a tape of Jordan highlights, and watches the final sequence of the ’82 title game. You know the one, when Dean Smith goes to MJ, who drills the game winner.
I was at the game. Have watched the clip tens of times. Never caught what Vaccaro saw and Smith knew when tapping the freshman to take the shot instead of James Worthy.
Which is Jordan’s incredible confidence in the moment. Worthy’s a decoy, pulling a defender toward the lane. As MJ without a hint of nervousness or stress or panic awaits the pass, and without hesitation at the biggest moment of his hoops career until then fires it deftly through the net.
We all saw the shot. Vaccaro and Smith and the Bulls saw the transcendence.
So, yeah, there are hoopaholics who “know” or believe we do, and the top level of observers who KNOW.
Assessing talent is an art.
* * * * *
I noted with interest that another power has designated a basketball staff member as GM. Duke’s done it. A couple other schools. This time Villanova tapped Baker Duneavy, who’d been coach at Quinnipiac. (Which college prevailed at the recent Frozen Four, if you weren’t paying attention.)
The use of the job title — General Manager — bemuses me.
Because I’m not quite sure how that differs from what’s been traditionally dubbed Director of Basketball Operations. Other than, in Dunleavy’s case, he oversees brand marketing, NIL coordination, transfer portal protocols and fundraising, for both the men’s and women’s program.
Which brings me to a bit of info I learned about U of L coach Kenny Payne’s recent recruiting foray to Africa.
He took along Justin Perez. Who is the Cards’ Director of B-Ball Ops. You know, the young but trusted GM, with serious familial connections that could sway recruits.
He’s the recent Columbia Law grad, member of NY bar, son of the two top level Roc Nation execs, a fellow who told me at last media day his goal was to someday be an “NBA General Manager.”
* * * * *
More HVL info.
She advised Jeff Walz of her intention to leave in a face to face meeting with her father present.
Walz told my reliable source, who learned of it in a text exchange with the coach himself, that the Van Liths did not go into much detail, other that to advise, she was “looking for other opportunities including NIL.”
* * * * *
Not sure how this NCAA rule change will affect recruiting, but here it is.
High schoolers are no longer limited to 5 official visits. They can go on as many as they wish now, but only once to each place. Schools, I believe, are limited to hosting 56 potential players.
* * * * *
U of L’s ’23 men’s recruiting class as it presently exists is ranked #5.
— c d kaplan