Arizona gets last crack at Kaleb Tarczewski

Shooting 3's ...

Big Kaleb breaks his silence ... a little

Much has been said and speculated but little has been written involving his own words. Kaleb Tarczewski (Claremont, N.H./St. Mark’s) is a popular name around the water cooler but not because of what he’s said. In fact, it’s the opposite. Tarczewski hasn’t said much since the end of the summer period.

“I’ve been laying really low,” ESPN’s No. 6 overall prospect said. “I’ve been able to focus on school and working out.” By school, Kaleb means high school not college, at least not yet.

Without much fanfare, Tarczewski slowly firmed up his list to the point where he’s only considering Kansas and Arizona. Last weekend, he was in Lawrence for one of the biggest opening celebrations in the country. “It was a really good trip and I loved the staff and the team. It was a great visit.”

This weekend, Tarczewski will be on Arizona’s campus; his second trip to Tucson. He’s been to Kansas five times. You get the sense that as much as Tarczewski wants to take his time and make sure; he’s getting closer to deciding.

“I don’t really want to make a time constraint,” Tarczewski said. “I don’t want to put pressure on myself. I’d like to make a decision after the visit. If I feel good I’ll try to make a decision and if I need more time I’ll take a few weeks.

“The reason why I did these two visits is to make sure 100 percent this is the place I want to go. I’d rather be careful and be 100 percent sure; I know a lot about both programs.”

Freeman’s fall tour set to end in early November

If you think Allerik Freeman (Charlotte, N.C./Olympic) is a senior, you’re forgiven. Freeman’s been on a tour reminiscent of a 2012 prospect; only he’s a 2013 player ranked No. 9 in the ESPNU 60. This coming weekend, Freeman will be at Villanova for the Wildcats version of Midnight Madness. The following weekend he’ll be at Syracuse and may trip to NC State on Nov. 5.

All of these trips are unofficial but don’t tell Freeman. He’s in straight learning mode and knows there’s much to be digested during the weekend jaunts. “When I go on a visit, I look how the players react with the coaches and how the coach instructs his players,” Freeman said. “I’m seeing if the players are getting better. I hang with the players to see how it is to live there, talk to the academic advisors and see what it’s like. I ask myself: can I spend four years here as a student and as a basketball player.

“When you go on a visit, it’s fun when you’re there. When I’m there I feel like (I could go there) but when I get home (I don’t feel that way all the time). That’s what the recruiting is about.”

Last year, Freeman spent Midnight Madness with the Georgetown Hoyas. His list reads Kansas, Kansas State, Villanova, NC State, Georgetown and Syracuse; only the Orangemen haven’t offered. Arizona recently called. Texas, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Marquette, Memphis and UConn showed varying degrees of interest.

“There’s a lot of schools that are recruiting me and a lot of schools that I’m interested in. I’m looking to find that right school right now. I might commit soon, I might commit later, it just depends on how I feel.”

In the meantime, Freeman spends his weekends on the road, juggling books and ball for the time being. “I tell my teachers and they understand. They stay updated on the basketball stuff and fortunately for me they support me 100 percent.”

Scholarship offers: head coach ones are best

As the father of a prospective student-athlete (at least a manager candidate), when the time comes for my sons to play collegiate sports (if they’re good enough in 2024), I’ll be looking at the relationship my sons have with their future coach. Typically, the genesis of that relationship is via an assistant coach. However, when it comes time to put the pen to paper and ink a scholarship, the head coach should be the final mitigating factor. Because the role of the head coach is so paramount to the success of the player, it makes sense to me that the head coach should be the one to offer a scholarship.

Don’t get me wrong, hearing an assistant coach say there’s a scholarship offer on the table is exciting and attractive. However, to me, a true scholarship offer comes from the head coach. The assistant can set the table, but the head coach is the ultimate person in charge of the most precious commodity: playing time. He’s the guy that is the face of the program. He’s the guy that should have a strong bond with the recruit.

In today’s day and age, prospects, parents and advisors are enamored with scholarship offers. Offers are more prevalent amongst younger players, but are they really offers? When the head coach calls or verbally makes the overture, it’d better be genuine and serious because his word is on the line. If an assistant gets excited and makes an offer, it’s not the same unless it’s followed up crisply by the same words from the head coach. Not every reported offer is a valid scholarship offer and that can be difficult to understand from a fan’s point.

If you really want to put the “offer” to the test, there’s one simple question to ask. If the prospect were to pick up the phone and offer his commitment, would the school accept it? That’s the final litmus test for the offer: will they take your commitment when you’re ready to commit? If there’s any hesitation then there’s no offer.

And One ...

The phone rang on Wednesday night and on the other end was Kellen McCormick (West Bloomfield, Mich./Notre Dame). Over the last three years, I’ve gotten to know Kellen through the NBPA Top 100 Camp, which his father Tim and I are actively involved with. Kellen’s been coming to the camp for a long time and participating every year since he’s been in high school. Over that time, I’ve had a chance to watch him grow as a person and player.

Next year, McCormick is going to Western Michigan where he’ll be a Bronco. Steve Hawkins will sign a gem of a player and an even better person in November. Kellen had offers from Miami-OH and Oakland before deciding to play for Western. True to his personality, Kellen made an educated decision and one he didn’t take lightly. Before committing to WMU, he visited unofficially three times in addition to his official visit. McCormick had to be sure; he was only going to do this one time.

Tim McCormick, Kellen’s father was big time at Michigan and later played in the NBA. As a dad, sitting back and watching their relationship the last three years was special. I know that week they spent each year together at the NBA Camp was big for them. It was part of their bond that each will cherish forever and I was happy to be a small part of that.

Kellen’s a serious kid and his college decision was serious business. With Western, he found his Michigan. “In college, I’m probably going to be a 4. I’ve spent a lot of time lifting to add strength. I put on 20 pounds over the summer. If you look at their roster, they don’t really have a true 4-man. I was the first guy in the 2012 class that Coach Hawkins offered. He’d had guys like me before and he loves having these pick-and-pop guys in his offense.”

McCormick is coachable, personable and one of those kids who is destined to impact other people someday. Steve Hawkins, take good care of this guy.