What’s the point of this?
One day. Two games. An eighth-grader competing against players 15-years-old and younger.
Those factors made for perhaps the most surprising commitment in the history of University of Kentucky basketball. UK Coach Billy Gillispie noticed Michael Avery, an eighth-grader from Lake Sherwood, Calif., while attending a youth basketball event sponsored by LeBron James last weekend in Akron, Ohio.
Less than a week later, Avery accepted Gillispie’s offer of a scholarship to play for the Wildcats … beginning with the 2012-13 season.
“Oh my goodness,” recruiting analyst Brick Oettinger said of the commitment. “A school taking a commitment from someone that young — there’s no telling what will happen.”
In four years of high school (by the way, Avery has not yet decided what high school he will attend), the 6-foot-4 guard could get injured. He could have peaked physically, meaning he could be surpassed athletically by other players who mature later.
And who’s to say Gillispie will be Kentucky’s coach in 2012?
When news of the commitment reached a meeting of the UK Athletics Association Board of Directors on Thursday, it stunned school President Lee T. Todd Jr.
“An eighth-grader?!” he blurted out.
After noting that plenty of time remained for such an early commitment to be rescinded, Todd expressed his wish that Kentucky not regularly seek a college choice from a child who had not yet entered high school.
“Not that you’d tell people not to ever do it,” Todd said, “But I’d hope there aren’t very many eighth-graders thinking of playing at a specific college. …
I don’t know; myself, I think I’d tell people not ever to do it. I understand that the commitment can be rescinded, and that it depends on a certain (low) level of academic achievement in high school, but the idea of 8th graders making commitments to play college basketball strikes me as wrong. The “student” part of “student-athlete” has been in difficulty for some time now, and this really helps to clarify how little the former means compared to the latter. The strangest thing about it is that, if the kid pans out, he’ll probably only be a Kentucky for one year.