Vaccaro Will Be My Scapegoat Because He Doesn’t Know Squat About the NBA

By Gregory Moore
Updated: July 15, 2005

Sonny Vaccaro

Sonny Vaccaro

SAN ANTONIO — Every time I read an article that has Sonny Vaccaro even remotely in the story, I just become incensed. In my eyes Vaccaro is the very reason why high school kids opt out of college early and jump straight to the pro ranks. Granted he has provided some memorable players who are alumnus of the famed ABCD camps but it’s not like Vaccaro is helping either side in this matter; only his pocketbook and that of his shoe company pimpster; whichever company that is at the time. He can rant and rave all he wants about how the NBA is ruining the college game but I don’t see him providing any solutions to this growing epidemic. All I read about is how he thinks the new age-limit restriction will force a bunch of “one and done” scenarios from the college ranks or a huge influx to the development league.

Well sorry, Sonny but you are at the bottom of all of this because you have helped create this Frankenstein of a problem and you have no viable solution to how to tame your beast of your creation. In case you haven’t figured this out, I am blaming the ABCD camp phenomenon for being the catalyst of the NBA high school bust.

What Vaccaro has created is a glass floor of the thinnest temper. Not once has he or anyone associated with his program informed parents of the perils of going into the world of being a professional athlete. All he wants is to showcase the nation’s top talents of the PROS, no the colleges. His words against the NBA point to the fact that he could care less about the college game.

“I’m not going to fight their edicts, but it’s silly and dumb,” said Vaccaro said. “I would want them [the NBA scouts] here more. I think the summer time and camps are different than going to high school gyms. Keep them out of the high schools, or even the McDonald’s game, but they’ll be limiting themselves as to the quality of athlete they’ll get.”

That bone jarring stuff considering the fact that just recently Kentucky standout Randolph Morris found out that he wasn’t pro material. I wonder what camp did Morris attend prior to his freshman season at Kentucky and who was speaking to him about his NBA future. And the same could be said for a bunch of high school kids who were drafted this year and the numerous others who won’t even get a sniff of a pro summer league camp in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Las Vegas or Salt Lake City. I am wondering just how many Lenny Cookes are out there this year because they have listened to buffoons like Vaccaro; guys who have no idea what NBA general managers are looking for nor do they have any kind of sound judgment to at least help keep the college game in tact.

POLICING COLLEGE GAME WILL BE HARD TO ENFORCE Vacarro has continuously berated the National Association of Basketball Coaches in the press. Most recently he told ESPN’s Andy Katz “The NABC is essentially saying ‘screw you’ to the kids. They don’t want them to see if they could get a fair evaluation of their performance. Well, isn’t that nice of them. It’s a one-sided decision. That’s the hypocrisy of the NABC. That’s the reasons we have problems because people like the NABC dictate to people that they don’t have control over. Because NBA teams can’t talk (to underclassmen during the season) then those players will never get an honest evaluation of their ability.”

Now I seriously doubt that Vaccaro is in any position to judge the NABC on what it is trying to do. Personally I’d like to see college coaches get a lot stricter with these kids and I would like to see the NCAA become more proactive in this measure. It’s not about grading a player’s performance that concerns me but the fact that there is state funded monies being offered to these kids and they and/or their parents have no idea of the type of strain they are putting on the rest of that state’s community when the player decides to leave for the pro ranks. I don’t see Vaccaro helping the NABC and the NCAA enforce a rule in which if a player laves his school’s basketball program and is under scholarship, that the player must payback the balance of his scholarship the moment he turns pro.

Knowing how many in the Black community feel about this situation, I know that somebody will say that it’s racist for a school to force the student to pay back their money. What Vaccaro and his minions are teaching is how to get a free ride and not live up to your responsibilities. And what if this kid doesn’t make it in college? How about what if these camps do not help them even evaluate their chances to go to college. Is Vaccaro pushing any standout kid to spend some money at the IMG basketball academy to help prepare himself for a college career? Probably not. And I am sure that Vaccaro isn’t helping any “deprived” family come up with the $22,000 it costs for the IMG Basketball Academy’s post graduate program either.

What college coaches need to have is reassurance from the NBA that they are on the same page. If everything was on a equal plane, the NCAA would have adopted a very stringent rule that athletes who are on scholarship must complete at least two years of commitment to their scholarship before turning pro. If they had adopted this rule/stance some twenty years ago, the NBA would not have had to put in this age limit rule now. That doesn’t affect the kids coming right out of high school but it definitely would have forced a player like Stephon Marbury or Allen Iverson to be committed to the colleges they attended at that time (Marbury was at Georgia Tech and Iverson was at Georgetown). If the rule was in effect, these early entrants may have been just a bit more polished when they got to the pros. If they still wanted to opt out of their scholarship commitment, then at least the school would have a legal recourse to be reimbursed the expenses of that scholarship once the player signed a pro contract. If the NCAA had that rule in place, it would not now be so hard to get some things changed in which the college coaches can save their programs.

HINDSIGHT IS 20/20, BUT VACCARO MAY NEVER SEE THE LIGHT It doesn’t seem that Vaccaro is going to stop producing his ABCD camps and it doesn’t seem that the NBA or the NABC is going to truly help cut down on the “mistakes” that come with each NBA draft. Let’s face it everybody is in it for themselves and no one should expect any type of teamwork to derive from a sit down meeting. However, Vaccaro may never see that he is in a position to help both the league and the basketball coaches by simply helping the kids he is showcasing make proper choices. His stance of letting the prepsters make their own decisions doesn’t cut it with me because then that means that the prep stars will be relying on bad information and thus ruin whatever chance they have at a future. These kids need the proper guidance to achieve whatever dream they may have and Vaccaro could do a much better job of “growth” with these kids than what they are already doing at these camps.

As long as Sonny Vaccaro continues to be employed by a shoe company, the realization that maybe these camps could be beneficial to the college and pro coach will just continue to be the dysfunctional quagmire that it currently is right now. Vaccaro is not looking to help these coaches so why should the NABC and NBA help him promote his “product” In the real world, he shouldn’t and at least somebody in the NBA understood that premise and helped draft a resolution that leaves somebody else holding the bag if the standout player fails.

If Sonny wants to continue to promote his ABCD camp as a business of getting kids to the pros, then the league needs to help these future players realize that they cannot be treated like babies when things don’t go their way. After all will Sonny sit and hold their hand when their name isn’t called in the second round?

Probably not.