Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Bradley, Drummond Conundrum

So why doesn’t Andre Drummond count against UConn’s scholarship count? The answer is simple: although he is a recruited athlete, he is not a “counter” because he is not receiving any sort of institutional financial aid – i.e., academic or need-based scholarships, etc.

Any basketball or football player who is recruited and given institutional financial aid that is unrelated to athletic ability becomes a “counter” the minute he plays in a game. That doesn’t include government or personal loans, which is apparently what Drummond has taken out in order to pay his own way this year.

If a men’s basketball program has the allotted 13 scholarship players (or in UConn’s case, 10, given its NCAA sanctions), it can’t have another recruited athlete as a walk-on if that player is receiving any kind of financial aid from the school.

So why doesn’t this happen more often? Well, for one, most players don’t wait until a few days before the first day of classes to announce their commitment. Plus, think about it: how many top-notch players are going to come to a school and pay their way when they could get a free ride anywhere else in the country?

What does it matter, you say, Drummond will be making millions in another year or two as a high NBA draft pick? Well, even likely lottery picks and/or potential one-and-done’s like Drummond would be taking a risk. Suppose their weaknesses are displayed in college and they wind up not being high draft picks? Million-dollar insurance policies only cover players when they suffer debilitating injuries, not disappointing play.

It also takes a good, special person to offer to give up their scholarship, and Drummond certainly fits the bill. I have never seen a kid with such lofty potential and ability who is so down-to-earth. He says he doesn’t read his press clippings, doesn’t care what good things (or bad things) people are saying about him, would rather see his teammates score than him, would rather win than have a great game – and I believe every word he says.

It is worth noting, however, that this may not have happened if the process of Bradley handing over his scholarship didn’t hit some sort of logistical snags. There’s no question the original intent was for Bradley to give Drummond his scholarship. Why that couldn’t work out is a private matter.

Still, this was always viewed as a possibility, even as far back as early October. When Drummond, Bradley and Jim Calhoun spoke about it at the Husky Run, none of them ever said, point-blank, that Bradley giving Drummond his scholarship was a done deal. In fact, Calhoun, at the time, said the school might have some “more information” on the situation in a short time, and seemed to indicate that info would be coming from UConn president Susan Herbst.

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