Last night when word came that Antonio Blakeney decommitted from the University of Louisville, my immediate reaction was “This is why we don’t actively cover recruiting at TheCrunchZone.com.”
Recruiting is a dirty game. I’ve heard of players that committed to Louisville that were threatened by their non-Adidas affiliation to have their sponsorship pulled from their AAU team or High School. But there are other reasons to decommit, over-recruited, an opportunity to get more time somewhere else, a coaching change, personal issues at home, good friend plays for another team. We can go on and on.
Bottomline, recruits don’t owe a thing to a program. Just like recruits don’t owe a thing to the shoe companies either.
When Antonio Blakeney committed he told people the Louisville was “The perfect fit” that Coach Pitino was “The Coach I wanted to play for all along” and that “I knew I was going there for 2 months”.
11 days later, Antonio Blakeney is not committed to the University of Louisville, several tweets have been deleted from his account. His AAU coach wanted him to take an official to LSU and to Big Blue Madness. Nike schools.
Problem is that NIKE is just stuff. Shoes, clothing. In 2013 the National Championship was played by two Adidas schools in Michigan vs. Louisville.
LSU has a disinterested fanbase when it comes to basketball, LSU doesn’t even think about or even want to compare to Louisville in basketball. We all have seen Kentucky’s success on the recruiting trail. But even with SIX consecutive #1 recruiting classes, Kentucky has just one National Championship since Calipari arrived. Yes players have been drafted, many many players.
Louisville plays in the BEST arena in college basketball at the KFC Yum! Center. Period. Louisville is the #1 rated college basketball market in the country, and the program is the #1 Revenue generating program in college basketball by a WIDE margin. Kentucky plays in a windowless underground aluminum bunker with aluminum bleachers and some really creepy and strange sound maker where the replay screens should be. But John Calipari supposedly “created” a bunch of draft picks…..which is kind of like Donald Trump buying Augusta National Golf Course changing the pin placements and declaring that he just created the best golf course in the world.
The worst part about the Blakeney decommitment isn’t losing Antonio, it’s losing time with Perry P.J. Dozier who by all accounts wanted to be a Louisville Cardinal. Can Louisville make up ground with Dozier?
I don’t expect Louisville to continue to be interested in Antonio Blakeney. Rick Pitino has invested a lot of time, effort, and energy into his recruitment and to be publicly embarrassed and also put behind the eight-ball in recruiting Dozier is not something I expect Coach Pitino to take kindly to. But again, recruits don’t owe the program anything. Unfortunately when boys allow men to make their decisions for them, men do what’s best for them.
Best of luck to Antonio Blakeney on his future endeavors.