Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How to Win in the College Hoops Hype Game

Okay all of you Top 200 basketball recruits, here is a 5 step plan for dramatically increasing your media exposure during college hoops recruiting. This plan will work for any decent recruit but it can catapault you to the top of the awareness charts if you are a Top 200 recruit. Of course, working hard and playing really well could also do it, but why leave things to chance. My method is foolproof.

1. Have a long list of schools you are considering (at least 7) and you can even pepper in a few top name schools (not showing interest) to increase the desirability factor for the fans of your interest schools. Remember you are playing to the fans at the schools to increase media attention, not the coaches. You want as many hoops-crazed fan forums talking about you as possible. Make sure to get some of the really active forums involved, so add at least one or two of the following schools with crazy-active forums: Duke, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana and UCLA.

2. Have a leader and change it many times. When you name someone as the leader, that school's forums go crazy. People wearing colors will start showing up at your games and the school will start talking about you like you are already committed. Then when you change another school's fans will take up the charge, but strangely the old school's fans will still be holding onto hope and spend a lot of time talking about you. Do this 4-5 times and you will whip up a nice frenzy on several fan forums.

3. Wait, Wait, Wait. There is no point in committing to the school that you like early. Yeah, I know that you grew up loving "your favorite team" and always dreamed of suiting up for them...blah, blah, blah --- this is about Hype, Media and Exposure. Put your emotions aside, there is no place for heart in this game. Don't commit until the summer before your senior year at the earliest and if you really want to work up a frenzy wait until the Spring of your senior year. Milk that publicity and get those forums drooling before you lay down your selection.

4. Take the trips - and lots of them. Go to at least 7 schools and go to your top 3 at least 3 times each. The fan forums go crazy for campus visits. They chant for you at games, they write about your visits (including type of pizza you were eating at the campus eatery). This is great stuff. Give them what they want -- do something fun. See Derrick Rose wearing Orange and Blue Nikes when he visited Illinois just before committing to Memphis in the fall of his senior year -- that was genius!!

5. Don't stop working it after committing. So now you have committed and you are well known by fans from 7-10 schools (if you followed steps 1-4). Now is the time to really get the media involved. Before you sign the commitment letter, you still have time for the "waffle effect". This is a brilliant media play that only a few dedicated recruits use, but has a multiplier effect on media buzz. A couple months after verballing but before signing a letter of commitment, decommit (only once as more times is just flaky) and reopen your recruitment. Now, CBSsports.com and espn.com probably did not cover your verbal unless you are a Top 10 recruit, but when you decommit they will cover it. Bingo - millions of viewer!! Then, re-commit to the same school a couple months later -- no harm, no foul with the fan base -- but the extra media attention was PRICELESS.

Of course, media management does not stop when you arrive on campus but that is a lesson for another day. I hope this helps you get to the top of the RRL (Recruitment Recognizability List). Good luck on the media trail.

Mid-Season Transfer List Increasing?

Maybe I am getting old, but it sure seems like the list of high profile kids transferring mid-season is increasing - at least this year anyway.

December is always a popular transfer time because a recruit can play in January 12 months later if they enroll at the new school in January (so they only miss the non-conference play of the next year). Usually, the transfers are sophomores at BCS conference schools transferring to mid and lower DI schools for playing time.

This year though it seems there are some high profile freshman making transfers from one BCS school to another. As the internet speeds up the delivery of information and everything else we "need", maybe it is also creating more expediency in expectations of playing time for athletes.

The Alex Legion (Kentucky) and Lavel Lucas Perry (Arizona) were both very surprising freshman transfer announcements. Legion was a Top 50 recruit who was averaging 17 minutes and 6.7 points per game. Those are very good stats for a freshman, but maybe Alex is trying to compare himself with the fab freshman this year including Gordon, Mayo, Rose and Love. If so, he is in for a lot of disappointment as that is a tough group to hang with.

Lavel Lucas Perry was averaging 9.8 minutes and 4.0 points - again pretty good stats for a freshman, but he was in the shadow of freshman sensation Jerryd Bayless. Maybe that got under his craw or maybe he only went to Arizona because of Lute Olsen and he doesn't think he is coming back. In either case, it is a surprising transfer given the playing time and points he earned in the first five games.

This morning we learn that Casaan Breeden is transferring from Florida State. Breeden is a junior so after the transfer and sitting out a year, he will only have 1.5 years of eligibility remaining. Breeden was 2005 Mr. Basketball in South Carolina so he certainly had expectations for playing time and success at the DI level. This year he was averaging 14 minutes, 4.7 pts and 2.4 rebs per game - middle of the pack type stats. Seems like a disruptive move at this point in a college career.

This will be an interesting trend to watch in the coming years. For a full list of mid-season transfers check out the College Hoop Blog at Fox Sports