Prep stars are often college stars - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Prep stars are often college stars

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Posted: Saturday, April 19, 2003 11:39 pm | Updated: 1:01 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

If you were like me watching the final two days of the NCAA basketball tournament, you were wondering, who in the heck was this Gerry McNamara lighting up Texas and Kansas?

Was he a hidden gem coach Jim Boeheim unearthed from Scranton, Pa., to join prized catch Carmelo Anthony at Syracuse? I couldn't recall his name being mentioned when talking about the hot prep prospects.

So a little research was in order. For sure he was playing off the sensational Anthony, but the kid was shooting like Jerry West. Who was he?

What I found was when it comes to basketball recruiting, the coaches don't miss many.

In the All Star Sports prospects ratings, McNamara was No. 57.

Obviously, he wasn't a sleeper. He was on the all the lists.

While looking up McNamara, a young Trib staffer was sitting nearby.

I handed him a copy of the All Star Sports report from four years ago.

He was amazed at the photos and names he saw. All well known.

On the cover were Nick Collison, Michael Dunleavy, Keith Bogans, Jason Williams, Andrew Gooden, Jason Kapono, Steven Blake, Donnell Harvey, Joe Forte, Jonathan Bender, La Vell Blanchard and Jason Richardson.

Dunleavy, Blake and Williams won national championships. Collison, Harvey, Gooden and Forte reached the Final Four.

Bender and Richardson are in the NBA. UCLA's Kapono was a rare four-time all-conference player. Blanchard was All-Big Ten for Michigan. Kentucky's Bogans was the coaches’ choice for SEC player of the year.

Inside there were also photos of Joe Johnson (Phoenix Suns), Matt Carroll (Notre Dame star), Carlos Boozer (Duke national champion), Ron Slay (Tennessee, AP SEC player of the year) and Casey Sanders (Duke national champion).

I cited the names as an example of the differences between basketball and football recruiting.

One player literally can make a huge impact.

Not so in football.

The fact the great John Elway couldn't lead Stanford to a bowl had some NFL scouts and coaches questioning whether he was a winner.

Contrast Elway's lack of success at Stanford to 7-footer David Robinson taking Navy . . . yes, Navy, to the Elite Eight in 1986 and you can get a clear understanding of one of the differences between the two sports in recruiting.

In football you need several classes to come together to have a great team.

In basketball, it just takes one or two players. And Anthony and McNamara showed you can be fresh out of high school and win a national championship.

I don't put nearly as much stock in football rankings and ratings as I do basketball.

It goes without saying there are always duds. What happened to South Carolina forward Chuck Edison, rated No. 28 and ahead of the likes of Gooden, Johnson, Kansas All-American Kirk Hinrich and Maryland first-round hero Drew Nicholas?

And there are always the late bloomers.

Xavier's David West, selected the player of the year by Basketball Times, was the No. 214 prospect by All Star Sports.

But more often than not, the big-time prospects in high school are big time in college.

Consensus player of the year T.J. Ford of Texas was a second-team Parade All-American and rated No. 19 nationally by All Star Sports.

With the proliferation of summer camps, there are few hidden gems.

I should have known McNamara was too good to be an unheralded prospect.

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