Nine years ago, then-University of Washington assistant coach Cameron Dollar was suspended for a month and banned from recruiting for a year, for a number of recruiting violations.
The violations were believed to be in the recruiting of Washington high-school players Josh Heytvelt and Marvin Williams, both of whom went on to become pretty good players (Williams has a 5-year contract worth $40 million in the NBA). The Huskies landed neither one.
“I blew it,” Dollar said at the time. “I would like to apologize to the university and all of its supporters and fans for my actions. My actions were inexcusable. I’ve shown this university in a bad light, and for that I’m deeply sorry.”
Dollar has gone on to be a great coach, and is now, of course, the head coach at Seattle University. He’s retained his enthusiasm for the game and his likeability while changing to become a more mature leader.
Another thing has changed – Dollar’s willingness, or perhaps ability, to recruit the big-time local high-school player.
Seattle U will have 14 players on the roster next season. Of those 14, eight are transfers from community colleges. Two are transfers from other D-1 programs, and two are high school players from Georgia. Just two came from Washington high schools – Bremerton guard Jarrell Flora, and little-used Pasco graduate Gavin Gilmore.
That’s not changing this year. The three incoming players for 2012 are all community college transfers. The one high school player reportedly being recruited by the Redhawks is Los Angeles-area guard Trey Dickerson.
O’Dea’s Sekou Wiggs is probably the best uncommitted Seattle-area player out there, and the four schools ESPN lists for him are Cal Poly, Portland State, UC Irvine and San Francisco. None are worlds better or more prestigious than Seattle U – the Redhawks played the first three schools on that list this season, splitting a pair with Portland State.
And it’s not like there’s ever a lack of good basketball players out of Washington, one of the hottest areas in the country for basketball recruiting. One look at the lengthy list of NBA players from the state can tell you that.
So what’s going on at Seattle U? Where are the homegrown high-schoolers?
Dollar clearly, at this point, prefers transfers. He has 10 on the roster, after all. He started two community college transfers at guard to begin this season, and only moved them to the bench, replaced by Cervante Burrell and Sterling Carter, after a dismal first two months to the season.
With Burrell and Carter in the starting lineup for nearly every game after December, the Redhawks finished the season on a 9-6 run in that time period.
That’s not necessarily proof that community college transfers aren’t as good. But it seems pretty clear that when you throw a bunch of transfers together, and have them play major minutes right away, your team is going to struggle.
The one major exception to the transfer rule is Flora, who will be a sophomore next season. He doesn’t look like the type of player who will be a star, but he did show some nice skills off the bench at the end of the season, and looks like he’ll play a backup guard role again in 2012-13.
Seattle U is going to need more four-year players like Flora to be coming through the pipeline, players like Flora who elect to stay at home. Can Cameron Dollar recruit them? Will he? Those are questions for a fledgling D-I basketball program. For the program to succeed in the WAC, those answers will have to be yes.