Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Awkward encounters on the recruiting trail

Sorry this post is so late in the day, but I just got back from the Washington Post's annual All-Met luncheon honoring the best and brightest in high school athletics around the DC area. Since I just started with the Post last August, I had never attended one before. I must say, the event is pretty cool.

This year they had Sheila Johnson, owner of the WNBA's Washington Mystics, and John Thompson III of Georgetown as the guest speakers. Because I cover Georgetown basketball for the Express during the winters, I was paying particular attention to Thompson.

That being said, I got the sense Thompson was keeping tabs on someone else in the crowd: The Washington Post's All Met Basketball Player of the Year, DeMatha junior Quinn Cook. A smooth shooting point guard, Cook has offers from just about every major basketball school in the country -- including Thompson's Hoyas (check out his ESPN recruiting page, it lists Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, Maryland, and Georgetown).

For the record, I've seen Cook play live once -- last year during an ESPNU game against rival O'Connell of Northern Virginia. In that game, he absolutely torched Kendall Marshall, a McDonald's All-American who's off to play at UNC this fall. You'd think Wednesday's luncheon would be a perfect opportunity for Thompson to mingle and chat up the star recruit, maybe even show a side Cook wouldn't get to see on the recruiting trail.

Except it's a quiet period on the recruiting trail. So not only did Thompson avoid conversation with Cook (as far as I could tell), he barely looked him in the eye when Cook came up to accept his award for being named All-Met. All in all just an awkward encounter that I guess is a reality with the NCAA's stringent rules concerning what's right and what's wrong when it comes to recruiting.

Afterwards, as I was taking the escalator out of the Grand Hyatt, Thompson was right behind me. So I turned around and asked, "Did you have to write to the NCAA in order to attend this?" His answer was interesting. "No, but now that you mention it, maybe I should."

Just in case anyone NCAA-related is reading this, I maintain that I saw Thompson have no actual contact with Cook other than the aforementioned handshake on stage. Duke commit Josh Hairston is another story; another reporter joked Thompson was making one final run at him when he sidled up and talked with the kid.

Long story short, I'm just curious how often things like this happen. It just doesn't make sense to me that Thompson couldn't even go have a normal conversation with Cook -- although I guess a normal conversation would have eventually turned to basketball, and therefore been a no-no according to the NCAA.


Also wanted to address yesterday's post about a certain right handed pitching phenom. Turns out the hype was not only warranted, but Stephen "Jesus" Strasburg seems to have embraced it. I know it's only one start against the woeful Pirates, but wow. This kid is already a phenomenon here in DC and I fully expect each of his starts the rest of the year to be a bonafide event for area fans.

Though I wasn't able to watch the game live (to give you a sense of how big this was for DC, they were giving inning-by-inning updates over the PA at the girls' lacrosse games I covering) I've been tracking all the aftermath. And one quote when Strasburg was asked what he'll do differently in his next start made me go "wow."
"The big difference now is that tonight they didn't really talk to me about a game plan and how to attack certain hitters, they just wanted me to go out there and enjoy it, so that's going to be a new experience, to make up a plan to attack the Indians' hitters."

So there was no plan, Stevie? None at all?
Yeah, I mean they wanted me to go out there ... I really don't have a scouting report to begin with cause it's my first game, but, you know, you've got so much experience behind the plate (in Pudge Rodriguez) ... so I was just trusting whatever he called."

I know some (cough cough Hartman) thought my post yesterday was pessimistic, but I can't wait to watch the Strasburg era unfold over this summer and many years to come.


Matt Brown said...

Kind of funny that you told me a conflicting story about your encounter with JT III. Get your story straight Giannotto.

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