On Tuesday afternoon, reports starting surfacing that Boston College men's basketball coach Jim Christian had ended the recruitment of four-star forward Aaron Falzon; one of the program's top remaining targets in the 2015 class.
BC no longer recruiting Aaron Falzon per sources. Eagles appear to be targeting Markus McDuffie & Josh Sharma to round out class.— Adam Finkelstein (@AdamFinkelstein) September 30, 2014
Falzon, a 6-foot-8, 208 pound PF originally from Southborough, Mass., boasts an impressive offer sheet of more than a dozen schools, including BC, Georgia, Harvard, Marquette, N.C. State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Providence and Rhode Island. The four-star forward made it no secret that he was looking to combine great academics with a strong basketball program, and had recently set official visits for his three finalists: Harvard (September 26-28), Northwestern (October 3-5) and Boston College (October 10-12).
The news of BC ending Falzon's recruitment came as a bit of a shock to all involved. Based on the replies to Adam Finkelstein's original Tweet, the news first broke to the Falzons, N.M.H. coach John Carroll and Expressions Elite, his AAU team, via Twitter; not from the coaching staff. Based on some backchannel rumors, however, BC claims that they notified Falzon first. Either way, the program predictably took a big hit on social media for how the day's events unfolded.
Admittedly, the timing of backing off on Falzon now is pretty suspect. Falzon was just coming off a visit to Harvard, one of his three finalists, and wasn't set to visit BC for another two weeks. If the coaching staff caught wind of the fact that Falzon was leaning towards committing to Harvard, rescinding the offer now to save face seems an unwise strategy given the potential bridges burned at both N.M.H. and Expressions Elite.
Now obviously I don't make my living recruiting 17- and 18-year-olds to play college basketball, but I really don't see why you wouldn't just leave the offer on the table and let the kid chose to play elsewhere. I'm not definitively saying that's the case here, but other staffs have definitely used the practice in the past. I just...don't get it.
This isn't college football, where head-to-head recruiting battles seem to carry far greater weight. To me, college basketball recruiting is far more individualized with players choosing one school over another based on a number of factors that often have nothing to do with Program A > Program B. Limited scholarship spots, more Division I programs, a wider range of programs (in terms of both conference affiliation and geography) among the nation's top programs, differences in playing time and far greater access to the postseason all contribute to having a wider distribution of the top talent in college basketball. Plus, other than perhaps the diehard recruitniks, few remember 1-2 years down the line whether a player committed to one school over another. It just seems like a trivial footnote in the career of a college basketball player.
The other problem with going all-in on Josh Sharma, specifically, is that he's teammates with Falzon at Northfield Mount Hermon. Though 247's Crystal Ball has swung sharply in BC's favor in recent months (from 100% Wisconsin to a 50/50 BC-Wisconsin split), there's no telling how this recent miscommunication will sit with Sharma or the team of advisers helping him make a decision. Pissing off N.M.H. coach John Carroll probably doesn't improve BC's chances at landing either the 6-11 PF or future players at a prep school powerhouse that's been pumping out Ivy Leaguers in bunches the past few years.
So the party line is that BC is going all-in with Sharma and Markus McDuffie. OK, fine. Hopefully the staff did their homework here and feels that one or both are better suited than Falzon to run Christian's system. But the new staff still has to close on one or both players, otherwise yesterday's social media mishap goes from bad to worse.
McDuffie is down to VCU, Wichita State, SMU and BC, and takes his official visit to the Heights on October 17. Sharma visited BC back on September 19 and takes an official visit to Stanford later this month.
Of course, it'll also help if the forward BC does land in the 2015 class goes on to have a better career than Falzon (shudder the thought of Falzon helping to extend Harvard's winning streak over BC to 8...9...10...). And hopefully, Christian, Murphy and Spinelli don't identify any high targets in the 2016 and 2017 classes from N.M.H. or Expressions Elite.