Last week, the Southern Cal basketball program received a commitment from 6’6” forward Dewayne Polee, Jr…for the 2010-11 season. Yes, Polee is a 14 year old freshman at California’s Westchester HS, making this both absurd, and kind of creepy. The recruiting process is already marred with corrupted dealings and shady exploits: AAU coaches with sketchy backgrounds and ulterior motives are given the reins to the futures of many a young man; the cavernous wallets of hegemonic corporations like Nike continue to stain the recruiting landscape with flexed, economic muscle. Such examples can be repeated ad nauseam, as they are anything but pristine. My apprehension lies in the precedent of offering a kid a college scholarship before they’ve ever put a Mach 3 to their faces. Polee’s mother was quoted as saying, “He’s only 14, but Dewayne knows what he wants.”
With all do respect Mrs. Polee, that is a glaring paradox. Where they are going to play their college athletics is not on the mind of a 14 year old (nor should it be) unless it is on the minds of those around him. A 14 year old may have ambitions and dreams, but they are ill-equipped to make adult decisions. At 14, college might be on a kid’s mind, but it’s likely stuffed in the back somewhere beneath the incessant thought of “fresh kicks”, dirty jokes, cologne, and heavy petting. So congrats to Tim Floyd, and Mr. and Mrs. Polee on their decision, I hope it all works out for you. T’would be a sad sight if the pediatrician’s growth chart proves to be false, or if Dewayne himself (gasp) changes his mind over the next four years.
What’s next? Will this commitment lead to a trend in recruiting? Will coaches begin to deem it necessary to take a chance on kids before physical and mental maturation because your rivals are doing the same? The NCAA has to take steps to curb this kind of practice. My suggestion: Dateline’s Chris Hanson.
Tim Floyd: Dewayne? Are you here?
Dewayne: Yeah Coach, I’ll be down in a minute.
Floyd: Ok, I’ll just wait in the kitchen.
(enter Hanson and his bag of snark)
Hanson: Could I get you anything Coach: a beer, a sandwich, a 14 year old recruit?
Floyd: I, uh…I…this is a complete misunderstanding. You see…
Hanson: Oh, I see…I see this IM conversation you had with Dewayne.
Floyd: yeah, about that, I…I thought he was a junior.
Hanson: Yeah, you must’ve. Except for this line where you say, “I know you’re only 14, but I want you…in my frontcourt.”
Floyd: No, I never said that. Come on, I…
Hanson: Are you not “USCcutie245?”
Floyd: Ok, maybe I did say it. Look, I’m under a lot of pressure to win, and I usually just screw things up. Give me a break man.
Hanson: I see you brought a bag of goodies. What’s in there?
Floyd: Just some lemon-lime Gatorade and Trojans…athletic apparel. I didn’t mean any harm, honest. Please don’t put me on probation, please!