Thursday, March 09, 2017

A Plea For The Future Of Boston College Basketball

In case you had not heard, the Men's Basketball and Football teams at Boston College have been an embarrassing disaster the last few years.  They are not just renting space in the basement of the Atlantic Coast Conference, they are the landlords of that piece of ACC real estate.

Boston College is currently searching for a new Athletic Director, following the resignation of Brad Bates, and providing a path to being able to compete in these two sports will be critical to the success of whoever gets hired.

Here is some advice to whatever eager man or woman convinces the Powers at Boston College on how to solve the issue of Men's Basketball.  Sit down with Leo Papile of the BABC.

For those of you not in the know, Papile's BABC program is not just the premiere AAU Basketball team in the Greater Boston area, it's the most prestigious program in the entire country.  A quick glance at their website supports my claim that no other AAU program has produced as many elite players as has Leo Papile's BABC.

In the 1990's, when Jim O'Brien was still the Head Coach at Boston College and the school was coming off an exciting run to the Elite 8 of the 1994 NCAA Tournament, it looked like the BABC was about to become a pipeline for the talent of Greater Boston to Chestnut Hill.  Chris Herren of Fall River joined forces at BC with fellow BABC alum Mickey Curley of Duxbury in the Fall of 1994.  Scoonie Penn of Salem was primed to enroll in the Fall of 1995.  O'Brien had found a way to mine the BABC gold mine and Boston College was on the verge of building a legitimate powerhouse in the Big East Conference.

Unfortunately, BC never achieved the greatness that the BABC players promised.  Herren got hurt in his first game and left the school for Fresno State University following a public drug scandal.  Penn's career looked like it would live up to the hype after he won Big East Rookie of the Year in 1996 and then was named Big East Tournament MVP in 1997 but then he decided to transfer to Ohio State after O'Brien resigned and was hired to be the Head Coach of the Buckeyes.  Penn did serve a four-game academic suspension to start his sophomore season and had been considered an academic risk during his recruitment.

O'Brien's reason for resigning from his alma mater a few weeks after leading them to their first ever Big East Tournament Championship?  Boston College refused to admit Elton Tyler of West Roxbury High School and Jonathan DePina of South Boston High School.  Tyler and DePina, two local high school stars who played for the BABC, had met NCAA requirements but were denied admission by BC, who does have very high academic standards.  Tyler went on to play at the University of Miami while DePina joined his South Boston teammate, and fellow BABC alum, Monty Mack at the University of Massachusetts.  Two other prominent members of the BABC who had expressed interest in attending BC, Mike Bradley and Sean Connolly, both ended up at different schools.

O'Brien's departure marked the end of BC's relationship with the BABC.  Yes, the school had success with Al Skinner (who replaced O'Brien) but without the talent provided by the BABC program (only Jermaine Watson and Steve Hailey has enrolled to play at Boston College since O'Brien left the school), the Eagles have lost out on the type of talent that could have made them a regular contender for the National Championship.

Yeah, that's right.  The National Championship.

While not every local star would decide that Boston College was the best fit for them and BC's strict academic standards would prevent some student-athletes from enrolling, even landing 25% of the BABC talent from the last 20 years would have made a tremendous difference.

Don't believe me?  While my wife would congratulate you on your apparent good judgement, here's a partial list of BABC alumni that could have lifted Boston College to (pardon my pun) new Heights in Men's Basketball:

Mike Bradley (Kentucky/Villanova)
Sean Connolly (Ohio State/Providence)
Leland Anderson (Michigan/Providence)
Torin Francis (Notre Dame)
Will Blalock (Iowa State)
Jeff Adrien (UConn)
Farnold Degand (NC State)
Anthony Gurley (Wake Forest/UMass)
Jamal Coombs-McDaniel (UConn)
Alex Oriakhi (UConn/Missouri)
Phil Pressey (Missouri)
Gerard Coleman (Providence/Gonzaga)
Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse)
Jake Layman (Maryland)
Georges Niang (Iowa State)
Nerlens Noel (Kentucky)
Wayne Selden (Kansas)
Rene Castro (Butler/Duquesne)
Andrew Chrabacz (Butler)
Jaylen Brantley (Maryland)
Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame)

Now that you've been educated on the history of the BABC and their split with Boston College, here's the plan for the school and the new Athletic Director.

Hire a Head Coach with ties to the BABC.  I doubt that David Blatt wants to coach in college but he'd be my first call.  Patrick Ewing, who spurned BC for Georgetown 35 years ago, has been seeking a Head Coach position in the NBA and building Boston College into an ACC powerhouse may finally get him the job he wants.  Listen to Papile and get your man.  Then fill the staff with BABC people, like Jay Demings (currently with USA Basketball).

This is the plan.  There's no other path to sustainable success.  The Greater Boston area consistently produces top level talent and while not all of them play for the BABC, tapping in to Papile's program is the surest way for BC to become nationally relevant in Men's Basketball.

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