Pardon me if I don't jump on the band wagon and lead cheers for Jordan Caroline's decision to forsake his high school basketball teammates and attend a prep school in Florida as a junior.
If I'm a college coach, my view on this move is drastically different than what seems to be the popular opinion.
My conversation with the student-athlete might start something like this: "Let me understand this. You were raised in the Champaign-Urbana area, made lots of friends, were promoted to the varsity as a sophomore and were part of the coach's building plan for the future and now you're quitting that team to go elsewhere.? Is this correct?
"You think it's better for you? Do you recognize that basketball is a team game? Five people play at a time and at least that many are needed in practice to provide some serious competition that will help the starters improve. Your decision strongly shows a "me-oriented" attitude. You care about yourself more than the greater good of the team, it appears.
"If I were to invest a scholarship in you, what can I expect from you in the future? If I tell you that the first 50 times you touch the ball in a game, I want a pass made, will you do so or are you going to go off on your own and drive to the basket and pick up a charging foul? What if your role as a freshman is to be a practice player, help those ahead of you improve and bide your time until it's your turn? Is that a role you can accept or are you going to head off to what you perceive as greener pastures and transfer elsewhere?
"I want my players to have a commitment. I want them to see the biggest picture possible and that is what is in the best inerests of the team. I don't want players whose No. 1 priority is themselves. Loyalty is important. A team is a family. The coach may not be your dad, or your surrogate father-figure, but he should be someone you respect.
"What respect have you shown your former high school coach, leaving at a time when you figured prominently into his plans? Now that the summer season is over, it's a little late for him to start developing new talent to replace you in the lineup.
"Do you really think in this sophisticated era of social media and the recruiting resources out there that you wouldn't be discovered in Champaign, Ill.? If you're a player, those of us in the profession of coaching college teams will know about you. That's our job. That's a fact. We can tell you now who the country's top eighth-graders are.
"Want to know what impresses me? I like those guys who put everything they have into their development. Did you go to your neighborhood park and shoot baskets all summer in 100-degree heat? Did you call your coach on days it was raining and see if he could open the gym for you to shoot 1,000 shots? Did you spend your free time in the weight room, building strength and working on your quickness?
"How diligent have you been with your schoolwork? Great players who don't have the grades to accept a scholarship offer don't do any of us in the college ranks any good. I don't doubt that you will play a challenging schedule at your Florida prep school. I'm sure there will be a wealth of talent which will help you with your game.
"But again, that brings us back to the selfish reasons for walking out on your friends who were counting on you to be a part of their high school future. There is a bigger, grander picture out there that includes you as one element, not the epi-center of the basketball universe. I want to feel good about the players I recruit. I want to know they are there for the good of the team, not for their personal betterment.
"I wish you luck, because I think you're going to need it. And I sincerely hope this disturbing pattern doesn't escalate in the future. My mother once told me, "Blossom where you're planted." Still seems like good advice to me."