If I Were Advising O.J. and Bill, I’d Tell Them To Look At More Than Just Huggins and Kansas State

By Gregory Moore
Updated: March 27, 2006

Is O.J. Mayo's future in basketball at Kansas State or is it at a top program like what we saw during the NCAA tournament this past three weeks?

Is O.J. Mayo's future in basketball at Kansas State or is it at a top program like what we saw during the NCAA tournament this past three weeks?

SAN ANTONIO — Kansas State has hired former University of Cincinnati head coach Bob Huggins to turn around the Wildcats’ basketball program and to bring it back into national prominence.

Billy Walker and O.J. Mayo, North College Hill’s top basketball stars and celebrated by Scout.com as being two of the hottest blue chip prospects for the class of 2007 may be headed to Manhattan, Kansas because they want to play for what they perceive as a winning coach.

Yet are these two high school superstars headed down a path that may not be what helps their future as basketball players and as young men? Can they really expect Huggins to put them in a position where they may truly want to be and that is probably the NBA?

Here’s the reality that all parents and basketball players in high school need to realize when it comes to coaches, colleges and the programs they are in charge of. If the truth really had to be told about college athletics and the athletes involved, the schools use the athletes and the athletes use the schools.

You can get on a high horse and say that the NCAA has basically found a legal route to institutional slavery. Would that argument have merit, it would if the statement was true but it isn’t nowhere near the truth. The truth is that both parties have something the other wants and there is a way that allows these parties to get what they are expecting out of this very unorthodox alliance between a school and an athlete.

Part of that truth of what goes on at this level is also where a coach stands on various issues. As good of a coach as Huggins was at Cincinnati, there are some parts of this coach’s résumé. Parents should be very mindful of a coach’s graduation success rate just like they are mindful of the wins and losses.

Huggins’s GSR when at Cincy was almost nil and that is a shame for a program that was in the national spotlight. For as much as it was during Huggins’ sixteen years at the helm. Will Huggins continue to have an abhorrent GSR at K-State? If you are looking at his track record of sixteen years and the type of players he has recruited, how can you not say that K-State may have a low grad rate from it’s basketball tams?

Truthfully you cannot say anything one way or the other but the assumption of a near zero grad rate can definitely be made based off of past history.

So would Walker’s and Mayo’s basketball future be in jeopardy if they decide to go to K-State? I think so and here’s the reasoning. If you are parents of a talented player like these two young men, you need to realize that beyond the college tournaments and potential millions in the NBA, life will be about what will you do when your playing days are over.

If Mayo, Walker or anyone close to them come up to me right now and ask me what other schools do I think would give these young men what they want besides K-State, I can name them twenty schools that would fit K-State’s bill right now.

Right now if these men want to know what schools can give them national exposure that maybe Huggins could give, those schools are Texas, North Carolina, Duke, Georgetown, Missouri, Arizona, Washington, Florida, Miami, Michigan, Florida State and UCLA.

I haven’t even included the fact that they can stay at home and play for the Musketeers of Xavier or possibly go play for St. Joseph’s, Villanova, Syracuse, and several other ‘mid sized’ schools that have national power. All of those schools I mentioned can give these young men the road to success to so many dreams, including a dream of playing in the NBA.

Huggins’ hire at K-State is good for college basketball because he is a good coach but I firmly believe that it would be very disingenuous of the parents of Bill Walker and O.J. Mayo to put all their faith into one coach. Bob Huggins isn’t the only college basketball coach that can guide these young men to their destinies.

The parents of these young men need really look at the schools that were in this year’s tournament. There are at least thirty schools that can fulfill everything these young men need as college players AND prepare them beyond college ball.