Duke lands Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker is one of the most sought after high school recruits in the country, and Duke just landed him for their program.

Jabari Parker, the nation’s No. 2 senior, committed to Duke during a news conference at his school Thursday.

Parker, a 6-foot-8 forward out of Simeon Career Academy, chose the Blue Devils over BYU, Florida, Michigan State and Stanford.

Although hats representing all five schools initially were situated on a table in the Simeon gym, Parker pulled out a Duke long-sleeved T-shirt while announcing his decision.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has had good luck with recruits in his native Chicago. He also landed Jon Scheyer (Glenbrook North), Sean Dockery (Julian), Michael Thompson (Providence) and Corey Maggette (Fenwick) from the area.

“What brought me to the decision is, of course, the history,” Parker said. “Duke was always going to be a team in the tournament. You can’t go wrong at the program. And most importantly, the long-term investment — I feel if I go there, I can get a good degree.

Check out the interview above from this year’s Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year awards.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

The end of the Joe Paterno myth

Photo by Bill Moore. Copyright 2006 Bullz-Eye.com

When the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky scandal broke last fall, I asked a simple question: What did Joe Paterno know and when did he know it?

Now, following the Sandusky trial and news reports alleging a Penn State cover-up, the answers to this question will likely destroy the legacy (or myth) created by Paterno over the years.

For many of us, it was inconceivable that Joe Paterno, or any other head coach, could inform his superiors about Sandusky’s behavior and then never follow up on it as Paterno claimed.

Mr. Paterno: I do not know of anything else that Jerry would be involved in of that nature, no. I do not know of it.

You did mention — I think you said something about a rumor. It may have been discussed in my presence, something else about somebody.

I don’t know.

I don’t remember, and I could not honestly say I heard a rumor.

Q: You indicated that your report was made directly to Tim Curley. Do you know of that report being made to anyone else that was a university official?

Mr. Paterno: No, because I figured that Tim would handle it appropriately.
I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Mr. Curley and I thought he would look into it and handle it appropriately.

It made even less sense in the context of Penn State, where Paterno ruled the football program with an iron fist. When Penn State officials tried to ease Paterno out on the early 2000s, Paterno basically told them to go to hell.

But now we may have a smoking gun in the form of an email.

Schultz plotted out a course of action, according to a bombshell report by CNN, citing an email exchange that’s been uncovered in the school’s independent investigation by former FBI chief Louis Freeh. The report could be released as early as next month.

It would have been better to skip directly to the third action and let the welfare authorities do the meeting and informing, but this should’ve been enough to end Sandusky’s reign of terror.

According to CNN in an email dated Feb. 26, 2001, Schultz wrote to Curley about a three-part plan that included talking “with the subject asap regarding the future appropriate use of the University facility,” … “contacting the chair of the charitable organization” and “contacting the Department of Welfare.”

Except that Curley sent an email to Schultz and school president Graham Spanier on Feb. 27, 2001, that changed everything.

“After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps. I am having trouble with going to everyone but the person involved. I would be more comfortable meeting with the person and tell them about the information we received and tell them we are aware of the first situation,” Curley’s email said, according to CNN.

This is a stunning development, though none of us should be surprised. The emails suggest what many of us suspected – of course Joe Paterno was involved in the discussions following the allegations. And those discussions now appear to have led to a deliberate cover-up, with “Joe” being the person who caused the group to change course and not go to authorities. Paterno’s attempt to come across as an old man who didn’t comprehend what was going on now seems laughable.

Not surprisingly, Joe Paterno’s image and legacy are taking a serious hit as explained by David Jones of The Patriot News who has covered Paterno and Penn State football for years.

I can only tell you that when I read Saturday’s CNN report implicating Paterno in keeping the lid on Sandusky’s activities, I was not in the slightest surprised. I’ve suspected as much for almost two years. I did not print my full sentiments in the interest of fairness.

As a columnist, I did not want to get out ahead of this story, especially when I could not prove what I had heard. I wrote merely that I believed the PSU board of trustees had no choice but to fire Paterno. I believed that on Nov. 9, and I believe it now.

In covering the man and his football program for 21 seasons, the single most dominant thread is this: his ambition and drive. He would allow nothing and no one to disparage the institution he had built without some form of retribution. And he had complete power over his domain.

He could be a vindictive man. At times, he was pointlessly petty and nasty.

He goes on to begin preparing Paterno admirers for the worst.

It all points toward an effort to conceal Sandusky’s behavior and preserve the image of Penn State’s football program at the expense of his victims — past and future. If I am wrong and true evil exists in the world, this is pretty close to the real thing. Much closer, I think, than a sick individual irrationally compelled to commit the most hideous acts.

Now, unless you live in some sort of fairyland where Paterno had no influence over anyone but his players, the implication is clear: Spanier didn’t want news of a pedophile to break. And the man who hired the child torturer in the first place, the man Spanier was unable or unwilling to unseat, had no say in this? It’s a preposterous notion.

We don’t know the totality of what the Freeh investigation will uncover. I would just ask those who cannot get their minds around the concept of Joe Paterno acting in self-interest — acting to preserve his institution rather than individuals — to prepare themselves to have their bedtime story disrupted. You don’t get to be as powerful as this man was by sitting idly by and allowing others to call shots.

Read the entire article, as Jones offers an eloquent discussion of how none of us are perfect, and the dangers around deifying people like Paterno.

As he also mentioned, we still don’t have the full Freeh report, so we can’t be close to the final word on this matter. There may be more emails that shed further light on what happened. But what we have so far, if confirmed to be accurate, paint Paterno as an enabler of Sandusky’s crimes and part of a conspiracy to cover them up. Also, make no mistake, while many are noting that all of this was done in the misguided attempt to protect the “institution” of Penn State, when it comes to Paterno it involved his attempt to protect his job and his own manufactured “legacy.” Had this come out at the time, it would still have been a major scandal for Paterno even if he did the right thing by reporting it, and he probably would have lost his job. Does anyone doubt all of this went through his mind? Now, with the inaction and cover-up, it’s much worse of course.

In the aftermath of the CNN report, some Paterno defenders are pulling back. Dick Vitale sent this Tweet to SPORTSbyBROOKS admitting he was wrong:

RT @DickieV: @SportsbyBrooks learned of report that proves Joe Pa knew more than I believed. I WAS WRONG-always thought he couldve done more

Brooks has been right about this from the beginning, as he was one of the sportswriters who refused to let Paterno and Penn State off the hook.

It will be interesting to see if others will do the same. Mike Krzyzewski recently said that Penn State’s treatment of Joe Paterno was “horrible.” Nike’s Phil Knight was also a Paterno apologist.

It will also be interesting to see if the Joe Paterno statue will still be standing after this all plays out.

Grant Hill responds to “The Fab Five”

In the ESPN documentary “The Fab Five,” Jalen Rose and his teammates made a few comments about the Duke basketball program. The most inflammatory was that the black Duke players were “Uncle Toms.” Grant Hill’s name was brought up, and Hill has since responded via the New York Times’ college sports blog.

My teammates at Duke — all of them, black and white — were a band of brothers who came together to play at the highest level for the best coach in basketball. I know most of the black players who preceded and followed me at Duke. They all contribute to our tradition of excellence on the court.

It is insulting and ignorant to suggest that men like Johnny Dawkins (coach at Stanford), Tommy Amaker (coach at Harvard), Billy King (general manager of the Nets), Tony Lang (coach of the Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins in Japan), Thomas Hill (small-business owner in Texas), Jeff Capel (former coach at Oklahoma and Virginia Commonwealth), Kenny Blakeney (assistant coach at Harvard), Jay Williams (ESPN analyst), Shane Battier (Memphis Grizzlies) and Chris Duhon (Orlando Magic) ever sold out their race.

To hint that those who grew up in a household with a mother and father are somehow less black than those who did not is beyond ridiculous. All of us are extremely proud of the current Duke team, especially Nolan Smith. He was raised by his mother, plays in memory of his late father and carries himself with the pride and confidence that they instilled in him.

Well said, Grant.

In a recent column, FoxSports columnist Jason Whitlock took the Fab Five to task for saying such things:

The Fab Five clearly believe Coach K and Duke didn’t and don’t recruit inner-city black kids, and they believe race/racism/elitism are the driving forces behind the philosophy.

Let’s go back to the Fab Five era and Duke’s philosophy then. Coach K recruited kids who had every intention of staying in school for four years. He recruited kids who had a good chance of competing academically at Duke and could meet the standardized test score qualifications for entrance.

The Fab Five stated it was their intention to win a national championship and turn pro as a group after their sophomore season. Webber, who was recruited by Duke, left Michigan after two years. Rose and Howard left as juniors. Impoverished inner-city kids have good reason to turn pro early. I’m not knocking Webber, Howard and Rose for their decisions. They didn’t fit the Duke profile at the time.

During the three-year run of the Fab Five (one season without Webber), Duke beat Michigan all four times the schools met while winning two ACC titles and one NCAA title. During the same span, Michigan won zero conference or national titles. In addition, Webber’s interactions with booster Ed Martin put the program on probation and caused Michigan to forfeit all its games.

I think Coach K recruited and recruits the right kids for Duke.

It turns out that Jalen Rose was the executive producer of the documentary, so it would be tough to argue that his words were taken out of context.

A few random thoughts about “The Fab Five”

ESPN is currently running a two-hour documentary about Michigan’s Fab Five (Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson, and if you haven’t seen it, I’d definitely recommend it. Webber didn’t agree to participate, but the interviews with the other four members along with members of the coaching staff were quite compelling.

Yesterday, the internet was abuzz with comments made by the former Michigan players about Duke and especially Christian Laettner, whom Rose thought was an “overrated pu**y,” until he actually played against him and saw that he had some serious game. I’ll leave those comments alone since Rose eventually gave Laettner credit, but there are a few other moments in the documentary that jumped out at me:

1. Rose hated Duke because they wouldn’t recruit someone like him; they only recruited “Uncle Tom”-type black players. He also admitted he hated Grant Hill because Hill grew up in a great home while Rose grew up poor with an absentee father. Rose probably hit the nail on the head with regard to why many inner city blacks resent/criticize suburban blacks; it’s out of envy. They see lives that are more comfortable than theirs, and they lash out in anger. The Fab Five translated this to a hatred of the Duke players, including guys like Grant Hill and Thomas Hill.

I suspect if Mike Krzyzewski were asked about his recruiting habits and answered honestly, he’d say that he had the luxury of recruiting players (of whatever race) that he thought would fit into his team-first concept. He already had a successful college program, so why recruit a ‘risky’ player like Rose who may or may not fit into what he’s trying to build? The last thing he wants is to have a to battle a player on a daily basis.

In the end, Duke was 3-0 against the Fab Five, so I’d say the Blue Devils got the last laugh.

2. Forget the shorts, shoes, socks or even the style of play. The thing that bothered me about the Fab Five was the in-your-face taunting. The film was great because it reminded me of what I didn’t like about the Fab Five. Their play was outstanding. Nobody hogged the ball and winning was paramount, so from a pure basketball respect, they were wonderful. It was all the antics that drove me nuts. There were several highlights that showed the players getting into the face of the opponent after the guy was just dunked on. It’s one thing to over-celebrate with your teammates, but to show up an opponent like that is just bad sportsmanship. This was explained away as being part of the inner city playground culture, but my guess is that if they would have gotten into someone’s face on the playground, they would have been punched in the nose (or worse). At the time, officials didn’t really call taunting technicals, so there were no consequences to those actions. Oh, and Juwan Howard was the worst. Webber or Rose would dunk and there comes Howard, getting into the grill of the guy who just got dunked on. It was no surprise that against Ohio St. in their first Final Four, Howard got headbutt to the nose at one point in the game.

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Whatever happened to all the dominant Duke big men?

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski (L) questions a call by an official during the second half of his team’s NCAA basketball game against Temple University in Durham, North Carolina February 23, 2011. REUTERS/Ellen Ozier (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Let me throw out a few names: Danny Ferry, Christian Laettner, Cherokee Parks, Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer and Shelden Williams — what do they have in common? Yes, they all played for Duke, and they all averaged at least 17.7 points and 7.4 rebounds in their final years in Durham. On average, this group posted 19.6 points and 9.0 boards in those years. Ferry, Laettner, Brand and Williams were named First Team All-Americans, while Boozer made the Third Team. Parks could have been an All-American as well had Mike Krzyzewski not missed most of of his senior season due to back surgery and exhaustion. Williams was the last “dominant” Duke big man, and he graduated in 2005-06.

Since then, Duke has seen a string of highly-touted big men come through Cameron, including Shavlik Randolph (who played with Williams), Josh McRoberts, Brian Zoubek, Miles Plumlee, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. Randolph, McRoberts, Mason Plumlee and Kelly were all McDonald’s All-Americans coming out of high school. Other than maybe McRoberts (13.0 points and 7.9 rebounds), none of these guys have even approached the numbers and success of the aforementioned group.

What has happened to big man development in Durham?

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