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ESPN’s confidential survey with the nation’s top recruits

(Just a photo; I don’t know if Shabazz was surveyed)

ESPN Recruiting spoke to 25 of the top 100 players in the ESPNU 100 about illegal benefits, coaches lying and what draws them to certain schools. The players were assured anonymity in the survey, so the answers are (or should be) completely honest.

Here are a few of the questions and answers that stood out to me:

Have any schools offered you cash or other illegal benefits?
Yes: 7
No: 18

“One day I was working out in the gym with my dad, and some guy who was a booster came over, and he basically offered my dad $100,000 for me to go there.”

How often do coaches lie during process?
Some of the time: 14
Most of the time: 8
Never: 3

“It’s like talking to a used-car salesman sometimes. That’s the challenge of the process, weeding out those who tell you what you want to hear and those who tell you what you need to hear.”

What’s the best reason to sign with a school?
Will best prepare you for the NBA: 6
Offers best chance to win an NCAA championship: 4
Offers best combination of athletics/academics: 10
Combination of getting ready for NBA & winning NCAA championship: 4
Coaching staff: 1

Read the entire survey on

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

56 Comments for ESPN’s confidential survey with the nation’s top recruits

  1. Logan
    1:07 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Combining that survey and Dave Telep’s previous article about how many top recruits ask for a hand out…any UK fan is in denial if they wholeheartedly think John Calipari hasn’t had a player on his teams paid.

  2. PaintItBlue
    1:11 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Here Logan, let me fix that for you:

    “Combining that survey and Dave Telep’s previous article about how many top recruits ask for a hand out…any *college basketball* fan is in denial if they wholeheartedly think *every single basketball coach* hasn’t had a player on his teams paid.”

  3. Logan
    1:16 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Strong work PaintItBlue, you are spot on. I don’t mind UK fans enjoying John C’s success as long as they are willing to admit what is obviously going on behind the scenes. Don’t paint a picture of him as the infallible emperor of the court. Matt Jones has an old post (long since deleted) saying how dirty everyone knows John C was at Memphis before he was considered for the UK job. But I understand that UK is not alone in this. It just gets the most attention in this state. Baylor is another shameless offender.

  4. uk3k
    1:19 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    that is some seriously backwards logic. the microscope is on him and he wouldnt be dumb enought to risk spoiling it all for one greedy recruit.

  5. SexnNursinHomes
    1:20 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Seeing how Indiana cheats while on probation, I’m guessing the 100K offer came from iu.

  6. Logan
    1:20 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    I seriously doubt he does it directly uk3k. That’s what assistants, runners, and WWW are for.

  7. I'mTheDaddy
    1:21 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Logan-MAYBE Calipari had to use those kinds of tactics at Memphis, but he doesn’t have to here. His positioned himself and this program to have so much to offer that it’s a much easier sale—no shady deals required.

  8. Caliterry
    1:22 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    For some reason Drew didnt include this one

    Who do you least like getting calls/texts from?
    Random people: 2
    Reporters: 6
    Recruiting/Fan Sites: 10
    School Alumni: 1
    Coaches: 3
    None: 3

    “The media can get a little hectic when they all want to talk to you. Sometimes you have homework or you’re tired, but they’ll keep calling and want to talk.”

  9. Reality Is
    1:23 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    3. Slow down there Logan. I think anyone would be naive to think there’s no chance something is going on at UK…or any other school in America. That being said, your second sentence, “I don’t mind UK fans enjoying John C’s success as long as they are willing to admit what is obviously going on behind the scenes.” is misleading at best. Fact is you nor 99.9% of people know “what is obviously going on” at ANY PARTICULAR SCHOOL. Sure, we know cheating is likely taking place, but I will guarantee you know facts to support your claims about Calipari. You just think you know what’s going. Maybe you’re GUESS is right, maybe it’s wrong. Either way, you damn sure don’t know.

  10. Whatever
    1:23 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    1 – sometimes these things are out of the coaches hands. If I were a millionaire who wanted to win at any cost, I would offer Bazz money to come…but I wouldn’t tell Cal about it. Too bad I’m not a millionaire.

  11. catsfansince1970
    1:24 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    #4 – I dont think it necessarily means that Cal has anything to do with it, but i find it naive to think we are getting all these recruits without anything shady going on. It happens in every major program. I agree that Baylor is probably the biggest offender. If you remember, John Walls handler wanted him to go to Baylor, why?

  12. Loganshatin
    1:26 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Someone tell Tom Crean to stop posting on here…Come on Logan

  13. Reality Is
    1:27 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    11. He wanted him to go to Duke. Baylor did hire Brian Clifton’s(Wall’s handler)brother in hopes of getting John Wall. They missed on Wall, but it did get them Quincy Miller. Well, us pulling his offer helped Baylor get Miller as well.

  14. DavenderCatTheSequel
    1:32 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    1) Don’t hold your breath. Actually, go ahead. Hold your breath.

  15. Mr. Clean
    1:39 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    All I know is if we win it all, they investigate and find out something strong enough to vacate our national championship, Cal better be out of the state when the announcement is made because fans are gonna be going nuts.

  16. Art Vandalay
    1:43 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Cals track record of placing players in the NBA where they make millions is all the recruiting advantage he needs.

    Even a complete idiot can see millions in a year > hundred thousands today.

    Just ask CJ Leslie how he feels about his decision.

  17. Han
    1:49 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    4) Not to mention there have been at least 3 top 25 players in the last few years who had UK as their favorite and Cal specifically did not take offer them because he described them more as “takers.”

    9) Tipton, Forde and a dozen other major reporters devote a lot of time and effort to nailing UK, and yet time after time we see schools like UConn and Tennessee getting in trouble, but nothing on UK.

  18. Logan
    1:49 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    I COMPLETELY AGREE that no one NEEDS to cheat at UK to recruit well. Cal has it made in the shade. It is easy to see why an elite recruit would want to come here. He has the BEST record at having NBA talent on his team. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened or continues to happen. Saying “He doesn’t need to cheat here” is basically saying, “Yea we are pretty sure he did at Memphis.” Now if you want to get really honest, UK fans just don’t care if he cheated at Memphis. Why would they?

  19. dave
    1:50 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    1-makes perfect sense.
    cal has to cheat to get kids to come to a program like UK. a program that recently gets LOTS of kids to the NBA whether they were preseason-projected in top 5 (boogie, wall), projected lottery/1st rd (orton, patterson) or not even on the draft board (bledsoe, harrellson, liggins).
    it honestly makes sense: kids would rather be like a cj leslie, xavier henry, josh selby, samardo samuels, tobias harris, lance stephenson, peyton siva
    than a john wall, derrick rose, boogie cousins, brandon knight, eric bledsoe, josh harrellson, anthony davis……

  20. Ben
    1:52 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Ego plays a large part in these surveys! Players hear stories of other players getting paid to play. Not all but some make up stories to have something to say. I know cheating goes on, but not on a scale large enough as this survey would seem to imply! It is one thing to offer a large amount, but totally different to actually get the money. Talk is cheap! You cannot believe everything that is said, ever if you like the sound of it!

  21. Alma Tomater
    1:52 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Logan, poor baby. UK kicking that ass huh?

  22. Drew Franklin's beard
    1:53 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Do none of you realize that we are the University of Kentucky? the most winningest program in college basketball with 7 national championships and have put 8 players into the NBA in the past 2 seasons? Uk sells itself. we are on top of the NCAA right now and are any kids dream school. players beg to come to kentucky to be apart of the tradition and glory. I wont say that there arent any shady things happening but there is no denying the fact that regardless of if cheating was going on or not we would still be pulling in the nations top talent every year.

  23. mattlol
    1:55 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Would have been nice if they didn’t turn it into an opinion article, real annoying reading then having the writer put his 2 cents in all the time.

  24. Dave from Harlan, Co
    1:56 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    would like to know Matt’s e-mail

  25. dave
    1:57 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    if cal cheats why would tipton waste his time making up payoffs like the truck patterson got? wouldn’t it be easier to just hide in the bushes for a day or 2 & wait it out for a payment????

  26. mattlol
    1:57 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Turns out i was reading the wrong article. This one was enlightening.

  27. Uh...What?
    1:57 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    #17–You should add “…UConn getting into trouble…and CONSTANTLY GETTING A SLAP ON THE WRIST! That’s one of the most crooked programs going, but all the NCAA does to Calhoun is suspend him for 3 or 4 games. If it were UK–regardless of who is coach–, we’d already received the death penalty.

  28. flipdunkking
    1:57 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    We were still the University of Kentucky 3 years ago when noone good at all wanted to come here. I cant say that Cal cheats (My guess is that all big time programs are not clean.), but the tradition and glory did not mean nearly as much to 17 year old kids until he got here.

  29. flipdunkking
    1:58 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    When I say noone, I mean only the occasional good player.

  30. jaws2
    2:03 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    23 I thought that’s what blogs were all about. If I just wanted to read so called facts from a source I’d just read a source that provides that only.

  31. Bulldawg
    2:06 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    @24 I am originally from Harlan too. Class of 95. The year of the great Charles Thomas.

    Anyway, if you want Matt’s e-mail, all you have to do is click his name at the top under the ksr guys’ pictures…

  32. Floyd the Barber
    2:07 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    I realized this poll was all crap when the answer to the last question was 2 to 1 in favor of
    —3. Offers best combination of athletics/ACADEMICS.


  33. The Rev.
    2:13 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    27 – UK will never receive the death penalty. Same as schools like Alabama and LSU in football…they are all too much of a money maker. Not to say they won’t slap some severe penalties on us…but giving UK the death penalty would take too much money away from the greedy NCAA.

  34. wilDCat
    2:17 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    I will venture a guess that theoretically it may only be a handful of schools that are resorting to using money or such to get players. The reason the number seems high with how many have been offered money is that these same few schools are making money offers to several players, not just one, so it’s not like it’s 7 schools offering money to players, it could be just 2 schools offering money to 7 different players. Personally I don’t think a lot of the big programs (UK, Duke, UNC, Kansas, OSU) need to cheat at this point when name/coach/track record alone can do a lot. It’s the lesser schools that don’t have that kind of notoriety that need to do something to up their stock.

  35. wilDCat
    2:19 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    28 – No one wanted to play under Billy G, University of Kentucky being the name on the jersey or not. Calipari had a lot to sell to Wall, pointing to Rose and Evans, and the UK tradition and reinvigorating the program and being in the spotlight as a result. So there was a significant difference when Calipari joined. He uses all of his own history and the circumstances to get Wall, other recruits see Wall, gets more recruits, 5 NBA draft picks, then he doesn’t even need a pitch anymore because the recruits all already know what it’s about.

  36. over the hills and far away
    2:20 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    How is it we are on op of the NCAA as a program when we have not won a title since 98? Yeah, alot of great players and lots of wins but not title. Someone explain that?

  37. zombie
    2:21 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    I know for a fact Indiania is cheating.

  38. John Chaney
    2:22 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

  39. wilDCat
    2:32 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    36 – Billy G and Tubby Smith. That is why.

  40. Me
    2:36 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Uhhhh, ksr… you guys do realize this info has been out for several days AND a poster on the ‘other’ UK site posted it before yall. You guys should surf the ‘other’ UK site more frequently – ya might even be able to report real news too.

    I’m fairly confident any real UK fan (one that has access various UK sites) has already been made aware of this ‘news.’

  41. Han
    2:49 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    28) True, but the style of play/coach and Cal’s recent success with Rose and Evans made UK much more appealing. And the moment Wall, Cousins etc had a great year, UK was on every top recruit’s list. Frankly, having a great year or 2 goes a really long way in attracting the big name recruits.

    36) We’re on the right track. Tubby couldn’t ever get us back to the Final Four. BCG was a mess. In 2 years, Cal has gone Elite 8 and Final Four here.

    40) Good to know this site is so outdated and useless…why are you here again if all the info is already elsewhere?

  42. RYNO
    2:56 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Despite the supposed “anonymity” of the survey, this is ridiculous. Do you really think that a college kid is going to tell the truth to a REPORTER? Reporters who have proven over the past few years that their sole purpose in life is to uncover recruiting scandals. Even if they have to rely on rumor, and unsubstantiated BS, some reporters roll out a story and say prove me wrong. SMH-yeah right.

    The proof is in the results- Question: What’s the best reason to sign with a school? 40% replyed, “Offers the best combination of athletics/academics” You really believe that? Maybe if they asked the bottom 25 of the top 100.

  43. A-Rod's Anonymous Positive Drug Test
    3:03 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Don’t tell em a effin thing!!!

  44. Me
    3:14 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Han – Not all the info is outdated and useless. Just the fluff they post on here trying to cross pollinate with other interweb sites. Most of the actual UK basketball info is still timely. Just think it is funny how they run down the CJ and HL and even Larry Vaught for not reporting things or reporting things late – yet ksr is one of the worst offenders of these practices.

    Oh and Han, thanks for worry’n about little ole me.

  45. Marvins Garden
    3:23 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Hey Logan,

    Bill Self cheats, Tom Crean cheats, Rick Pitino cheats, Roy Williams cheats, Coach Krap cheats… See how easy that is?

    By the way, I would assume the guys paying players are the ones that have actually been found guilty of violating NCAA rules. That leaves Calipari out.

    So suck on that asshole.

    3:25 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    It’s all Cal. What a cheater.

  47. iWantToBeTheDrewFranklin
    3:32 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    46–Cam is that you? Troll

  48. Participant
    3:35 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    If anybody has proof about UK, step up. If you just want to instigate, shut up (HOOSIERS). Just don’t have Mr. Sampson call us.

  49. Martinville Mike
    3:38 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Someone eluded to this earlier, but these are kids 16 17 years old, and they hear all assortment of things one way or the other. I’m sure at your work you may go to get some coffee or something and you hear that someone in your office may have gotten a raise or a bonus but you can’t find the absolute source, nor who has gotten said raise. On the HS level it ten times that plus. I do not know if Cal has or not. This has been argued many times in the past but CAL WAS THE ONE WHO TURNED CAMBY INTO THE NCAA. They didn’t find it on their own. And it was the NCAA who cleared Rose into playing only to reascend their own ruling.
    Bob Knight cheated. Kent Benson drove a brand new Caddie around Bloomington and had it serviced at the GM dealer My ex-B.I.L. was the service manager. Benson never once paid from an oil change to new tires, to a new rim that he wore off because he drove on a flat for almost 7 miles. The bill for the repairs was always sent to Columbus Indiana, Benson and his family was from North Central Ind.

  50. Lovely
    4:01 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    I just hope Cal has an ounce of self-preservation and common sense.

  51. Al's IndiCats
    4:04 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Let the haters hate, who gives a good rat’s backside. I think it’s great that these TROLLS come in here and spew their venom. Actually I like to think of them as small Ogres with nothing else to do and come in here from under their bridges, sh!t in their little ogres hands and fling it at anything or anyone who is a UK fan. Like 48 said….you have something give it up and send to the biggest cheaters EVER for a governing body. The NCAA are the cops, prosecuting attorny, Judge, and hangman. With little, or no recourse to defend.
    Take UConn for instance. Someone said they had violations, so after checking said Allegations the NCAA deemed it necessary for Uconn to forfeit 1 or 2 scholarships and that Calhoun had to sit out 5 games once league play began. But they still was able to play post games (tournament). It was for not having institutional controll over the UConn team. Had UK not put the hot seat on Sutton and Cliff Hagan to resign we would’ve gotten the death penalty….for the same thing Uconn got slapped on the wrist for. Different teams…..different penalties. The NCAA still to this day hasn’t ruled against Duke for the Maggotte infraction back in the 90s…He freely admitted he had an agent in the last year he played at Duke. I wonder if he’ll have to vacate those wins?

  52. SexnNursinHomes
    4:10 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    51- Al’s IndiCats 2012. you got my vote.

  53. theSkinny81
    5:22 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    51 +1

  54. RebuttalWitness
    5:42 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    51) The NCAA is not a high court. They cannot force any players to testify before a jury over allegations. Unless there is a criminal complaint, these rumors cannot be validated. So yelling at people who are spouting common perceptions and telling them to take it to the NCAA is a weak defense. It will take someone involved in a dirty situation coming forward on their own for any scandal to be hashed out. As powerful and corrupt as the NCAA seems, they are not the Attorney General’s Office.

    5:43 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Kelvin Sampson called and told me that he, Cal and Pitino cheat all the time.

    He also mentioned that Pitino likes ketchup more than mustard and Cal prefers mustard.

  56. IU#1
    7:54 pm January 10, 2012 Permalink

    Q: So, what lead you to sign with UK?
    A: Because they offered me the most cash.