Tar Takes 4/1: Coby White, Nassir Little, Zion William’s NBA draft outlook, recap from Duke + UNC’s early NCAA exit

Tar Takes 4.1.19

On this week’s episode of Tar Takes, Ryan Lipton and David Matlock give their takeaways from the North Carolina Tar Heels and Duke Blue Devils’ early exits from NCAA March Madness and why the exits might not have been as surprising as one might think.

Tar Takes also examines whether it is the right decision for Nassir Little to enter the NBA draft, if Coby White should follow Little’s footsteps and leave for the NBA, looks forward to possibly landing the No. 1 G in the country in Cole Anthony and Zion Williams/Ja Morant talk.

Tar Takes 4/1 Topics:

Thoughts on UNC’s loss to Auburn in the Sweet 16 and Duke’s loss to Michigan State in the Elite 8.

UNC F Nassir Little declares for NBA draft. Is that the right move for Nassir?

Should Coby White declare for the NBA draft? His decision is still unknown.

What are the prospects for next year’s Tar Heel team? Armando Barcot is committed, Cole Anthony is looking hard at UNC but some think his decision depends on Coby White.

Would a Cole Anthony and Coby White back court work together?

Ryan Lipton is the founder of The JR Report. For more news and The JR Report updates follow him on twitter @rytime98.

How the NCAA created and absolved themselves of corruption

Arizona Wildcats F DeAndre Ayton (Photo via Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

This past June, the NBA shattered another draft night record when 16 players who had only played their freshman year, also known as “one-and-dones,” were selected in the first round of the 2017 NBA draft. Much of this is the result of the eligibility rules imposed by the NBA which state that an athlete must be at least 19 years of age during the draft and that any non-international athlete must be at least one year removed from graduating high school.

The recent reports of many college athletes receiving improper benefits surfaced. Most notable was Arizona freshman DeAndre Ayton who was accused of receiving $100,000 to sign with the Wildcats.

With such overt hypocrisy in college basketball, the economics of the industry and nature of its current rules suggest that revising the one-and-done rule is necessary for the salvation of the sport.

The NCAA clearly states that it is a platform for amateurism which promotes the idea that its athletes are students first and athletes second. However, in an October 2017 article, sports economist Daniel Rascher estimates that the college sports industry generates $13 billion dollars a year.

With such high economic stakes, pressure mounts on coaches to win games. This is supported by the fact that of the 351 college basketball coaches 57 percent have been at their current school for fewer than five years. Naturally, the easiest way for basketball coaches to maintain their jobs is to win, which is also much simpler when you have the best players. The highly competitive market for athletic success has resulted in many coaches resorting to bribing top recruits to come to their school.

High School recruiting databases such as Rivals, 247 and Scout.com numerically rank prospects on their talent. Affirmation of their value creates an elastic market for players that eliminates the incentive to settle for the fixed rate salary which many believe to be an effective resolution to the issue.

Overall, it is no surprise that the juxtaposition between the NCAA generating 13 billion dollars of revenue while the agents (players) of their institution receive no compensation is capable of creating an extremely toxic environment.

How the rules under the current system endorse corruption

Under the current rules, no American player can go directly from high school to the NBA. Therefore, they have two options: play a year of college or play internationally and be legally compensated.

NBA Rookie Terrance Ferguson (Photo via Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

NBA rookie Terrance Ferguson, just one of three Americans who ever opted to forego college basketball and play internationally, articulated his rationale in a June 2017 interview with the Charlotte Observer saying, “Most one-and-done players only spend a few months in college. You have to do schoolwork and all this other stuff. At college, the only people making money off you are the coaches.”

Unfortunately, playing internationally robs athletes of the opportunity to compete against the highest level of competition that is not the NBA and can consequently harm an athlete’s draft stock. Of the four major American sports (football, basketball, baseball and hockey), basketball is the only one that allows athletes to leave after just one year.

As a result, any wrongful compensation these athletes receive must be investigated and processed; only after this can athletes finally be punished. However, by the time sanctions are ready to be carried out, most players have already bolted for the NBA. Therefore, because there is very little chance that an athlete will miss any games or face legal consequences, they have little reason to decline money.

To synthesize, corruption is nearly impossible to erase from an institution that has such a wide disparity between what the athletes deserve versus what they receive. However, disallowing one-and-dones can reduce the corruption. If the NBA eliminates the minimum age, then the number of one-and-dones would diminish dramatically, as many more would opt to be paid immediately.

If the NBA stands pat, then the NCAA would be wise to follow College Football’s policy and force athletes to spend three years at their school before leaving for the pros. Such a rule would force athletes to decide whether they are interested in the NCAA’s message of being “student-athletes” with the risk of the NCAA investigating them for receiving wrongful benefits, or they could opt to play internationally until they meet the NBA’s age requirements.

Allowing the existing rules to remain would tell every fan and athlete that the NCAA cares more about the economic benefits of college basketball than the sanctity of the game and its institution.

What needs to happen for USC to win national title

Photo via Getty Images

Led by Sam Darnold, quarterback and Heisman contender, USC is one of the favorites to win the college football title. Here’s what needs to happen for the Trojans to take home the title this upcoming season.

Last Season

It seemed like USC was going to have one of the worst seasons in the program’s history this past season. They lost 52-6 to Alabama in their season opener, and won only one of their first four games (Utah State).

The Trojans bounced back, though, and didn’t lose a single game the rest of the season, finishing at 10-3.

Biggest obstacle: Schedule strength

If they’re going to contend for a title, USC could definitely have issues with their schedule strength–it’s just not hard enough. Being in the Pac-12 was useful last year as they were only challenged in a few of their games, allowing them to climb in the standings despite a rough start.

The Trojans have to stay on top of their game the whole season and beat (most likely) Washington in order to contend for the title.

Quarterback excellence, with a little help

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Darnold has shown his stoicism and confidence throughout his tenure at USC, and fans know he’ll only get better. Photo via Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images

USC is looking to dominate on offense next season. It starts with Darnold, who totaled 3086 yards on 246 completions, and threw for 31 touchdowns with only nine interceptions last season.

Here’s a video from SB Nation on Twitter showcasing one of Darnold’s many impressive passes.

Considering he didn’t start until the team’s fourth game and threw for over 3,000 yards, USC’s offense looks rock solid. Darnold also threw for 453 yards in the Rose Bowl. Barring any abnormalities, he will continue to play well.

An outstanding O-line did play a huge role in his success last season, though, and the Trojans lost three of their best linemen to the draft. Zach Banner went to the Colts, Damien Mama to the Chiefs, and Chad Wheeler to the Giants.

One of USC’s top priorities is to replace these guys. So far, it looks like they’re doing a good job of it. The Trojans have four O-line players poised to take over: four-star offensive tackle Austin Jackson, four-star offensive tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker, and four-star center Brett Neilon.

If this new class can pick up where Banner, Mama, and Wheeler left off, Darnold will have all the help he needs. Also, if Darnold does slip up for some reason, four-star recruit Jack Sears will be right behind him.

Ground game

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Jones’s run game will be an integral part of the Trojans offense next season. Photo via AP Photo / Gus Ruelas

The Trojans are returning an outstanding group of backs, and there’s some new talent coming in, too.

Rising junior running back Ronald Jones II was the team’s best option last year, running for 1,082 yards and 12 touchdowns. He hopes to retain the starter position this year in face of incoming five-star running back Stephen Carr.

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Carr could challenge Jones as the team’s top RB. Photo via Scout.com

A California native, Carr is the third ranked RB recruit in the nation. The two will make an imposing duo. Dominic Davis and Aca’Cedric Ware, who supplemented Jones well last year, are returning, too.

Outstanding recruiting class

Excluding the run game and the O-line, USC has an all around good recruit class.

The Trojans defense is shaping up to be much better than last year’s, which was ranked No. 36 in total defense.

This season, they recruited five four-star players to strength their defense, including DTs Marlon Tuipulotu and Jay Tufele.

The other big recruiting story besides Carr is five-star receiver Joseph Lewis IV. Lewis indicated his desire to play at USC in January on Twitter. If he clicks with Darnold, the Trojans will have some formidable offensive firepower.

Why USC will win the national title game

Many are projecting USC as an outside candidate for the playoffs this year, and their reasons are sound. USC’s schedule isn’t nearly as hard as some of the other contenders.

If the Trojans can dominate their conference, though, they should maintain a strong position in the rankings. If they beat Stanford, Texas, Notre Dame, and Colorado, they’ll be hard to ignore.

Darnold is a top contender for the Heisman. Supplemented by some amazing running and receiving talent, he should be unstoppable.
While the Trojans aren’t my top choice for the title, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win it. They will definitely make the playoffs over Washington this year.

Reggie Bush: The product of a flawed college football system

Photo via Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Imagine you wake up with missed calls from colleges around the country offering you a football scholarship. You’re seventeen, and after long practices, extra sprints, and constant training, you’ve finally become the best. Despite coming from a low-income household with a single mom, universities are calling with stronger educations than you ever could’ve imagined. What’s left is conquering college football to make the NFL.

This process is a reality for many high school athletes like former University of Southern California running back Reggie Bush. Once he chose USC, Bush became one of the most talented college football players ever. He could do it all: return punts and kickoffs, run over anyone, and score touchdowns. With 1740 rushing yards and 478 receiving yards, Bush became the Heisman Trophy winner in 2005 as a junior.

But he also became the target of agents hoping to sign him for the big money in the NFL. As Bush gained fame, an ex-convict friend of his stepfather, Lloyd Lake, decided that he wanted to become a sports agent. Lake gave Bush’s stepfather a home and Bush a used car to guarantee Bush’s business when he reached the NFL.

Bush, however, failed to realize that this interaction with Lake was problematic. When he realized Lake wouldn’t be a good choice of an agent, he refused to sign with Lake, causing Lake to turn him in for receiving illegal gifts.

USC then got charged by the NCAA with “lack of institutional control” for failing either to be aware of Bush’s gifts or to stop Bush’s interactions with Lake. The school received one of the worst set of sanctions in college football history that destroyed the football team for six years. Reggie Bush, among talk of its removal, returned his Heisman. There is no winner of the 2005 trophy.

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Bush holding Heisman before it was taken away (Photo via Frank Franklin II/AP Images)

There’s no denying Bush’s accountability, but how much control did he have over the situation?

Bush’s scholarship, from the NCAA’s perspective, was a way to broaden the reach of higher education and to open up opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible. Scholarships are meant to prepare football players for the NFL but also give them the education that prepares them for a successful life outside of football.

Universities, however, are able to cheat football players out of a quality education in exchange for the profit of a star athlete. Thus, many argue that college athletes should be receiving some sort of monetary compensation for their contribution to the university. Universities and the NCAA are making millions of dollars off of the skills that young, often uneducated or underprivileged children bring to the field.

Young athletes are often given “perks” that make it easier to cut corners on their education; football players aren’t even required to graduate. Because of how much wealth and fame an exciting player like Reggie Bush generates, universities, coaches, and athletic directors are more successful when the players spend as much time as possible on the field.

For players, this means receiving more detailed information about what will appear on exams, taking the bare minimum of class requirements, and taking the easiest classes the school has to offer. The players are set up with football as a primary concern and education as a small hoop to jump through when aiming for the NFL. Without quality education, athletes are more vulnerable to immoral actions, and there’s more pressure to make it in the NFL.

Setting up players for the NFL would be great if most of them had a shot in the first place.

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NFL running back careers on average are only 3.3 years and often cut short by injury (photo via Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

Less than 2% of college football players play in the NFL, and of that 2%, the average career is only five years. Five years in the NFL is, in most cases, an insufficient income to support those players and their families for the rest of their lives. Desperately needing money that they might not be able to get, college football players are especially vulnerable to offers by sports agents that promise them security.

Another factor in the Bush case is his age. At twenty-years-old, he was expected to be making huge moral decisions regarding the wealth of himself and his family while surrounded by adults who should’ve protected him. Lloyd Lake knew that he was giving illegal gifts and trapping Bush in a no-win situation. Lake preyed on Bush’s financial need in order to propel himself into a new career.

“Lack of institutional control” is without a doubt applicable to an institution suppressing rule-breaking actions in the name of maintaining profit. Garrett and Carroll should’ve been the moral guides for Bush, helping him not only to develop into a great football player but also into a great student and person. They should’ve protected him from a semi-fraudulent agent instead of allowing him to be manipulated for their own personal gain.

The truth is that Garrett and Carroll had nothing to lose in the situation. In all likeliness, Bush would be gone before he was caught. Thus, those two would get the glory of training one of the best college football players in history and developing one of the most formidable college football teams ever. Plus, the NCAA sanctions came down on the school and Bush. That means that the faculty, students, and other players, who had no way to prevent Bush from receiving the money, were punished.

While the USC family spent seven years dealing with a tarnished name and a compromised athletic program, Carroll was signing a $33 million contract and bringing his NFL team to a Super Bowl title. Carroll left USC just before the news of Bush’s illegal interactions came out, leaving many wondering whether or not that was the reason he left.

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Pete Carroll at USC (Photo via Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

How does the NCAA justify punishing a university and one of its players?

Especially when the people at fault go on to be virtually unaffected. Carroll became more famous and more wealthy, in part, because he exploited Reggie Bush.

The NCAA should be doing their part in protecting players by incentivizing athletic directors and coaches to guide their players rather than take advantage of them.

What if, instead of Bush and an innocent student body, the man responsible was punished for violating NCAA policies?

If the NCAA set sanctions on coaches and athletic directors that turned a blind eye to wrongdoings, men such as Pete Carroll would have no reason to ignore the payment of their athletes because they would directly face the consequences.

Would the Seattle Seahawks have hired Carroll if he came with a postseason ban, fines, and a limit on skilled players?

This system drives college football players into the arms of greedy agents only to leave the victimized athletes and innocent students and fans dealing with its repercussions. So, who’s to blame? Protection from this system is the reason the NCAA, college coaches, and university athletic directors exist in the first place: to protect morality and students instead of profit and fame.

New NCAA recruiting rules: What you need to know

Photo via Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

If you follow college sports, you’ve probably heard the buzz about the new NCAA recruiting rules. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Next month, these new rules will go before the NCAA Board of Directors to get approval to move forward. The new rules won’t be available in full on the NCAA website until they are passed.

Signing Period Moved to December: 

This is already a practice in a lot of other college sports, and football was just late to the party. A player who already knows where he wants to go and doesn’t feel like waiting can simply sign in December. Coaches resisted an attempt to move it much earlier to June, but this still gives time for new coaches to sort out the status of their teams and make any changes they feel are prudent.

Official Visits Legal in Junior Year: 

Now, schools can bring players on official visits as early as the end of Junior year of high school (specifically April to June). This overturns a rule that dictated that programs must wait until September of senior year. This helps with the early recruitment signing date, as well as helping schools that may be ‘off the beaten path’ and difficult to get to.

Limits on Satellite Camps:

This rule does a couple of different things. First, huge programs cannot host camps for months, and camps have to be held on college campuses. Smaller programs can have a fair chance at recruitment because they can work together with bigger schools near high-recruiting regions. Schools will now only be able to hold camps for 10 days in June and July. Also, schools may now talk to prospects at these camps (as if this didn’t happen before).

Number of Assistant Coaches: 

Starting around the new year, programs will now be able to add a 10th assistant coach. This is a welcome change for many programs who may want to stack on a second OC or a coordinator for special teams.

Limits on Hiring Individuals Associated with Prospects: 

This is already a rule in college basketball, but this pretty much means that programs cannot hire an old HS football coach or parent to a support role at the program for at least two years after the prospect has signed. (Support roles do not include head coaches or on-field assistants).