Wednesday, July 3, 2013
South Carolina prospect pulls a switcheroo
By Eamonn Brennan
L.J. Peak is a teenager. He is good at basketball. On Tuesday, he made a lot of South Carolina fans angry. I think he might be my new favorite player.
Let's fill in the blanks: Peak, the No. 54-ranked player in the class of 2014, is a product of South Carolina's Gaffney High School, where his friend, Shaq Davidson, was a highly touted football prospect. On Tuesday, during their joint announcement ceremony, Davidson chose South Carolina. A few minutes later, Peak did the same. He donned a Gamecocks hat. He soaked in the cheers. And then, in just a few seconds' time, he whipped the USC hat off, threw it to the floor, and replaced it with a Georgetown brim. He had committed to the Hoyas after all.
And yes, lest you worry, there is video of the moment:
Needless to say, beleaguered South Carolina hoops fans didn't like losing out on a potentially huge recruit. Twitter tells us so. I wouldn't want to base an entire fan base's feelings off tweets sent by the kinds of people who send high school athletes angry tweets, of course. But you can understand why Gamecocks fans -- to say nothing of coach Frank Martin and his staff -- might be a little bit insulted at the antics. Instead of switching hats as a matter of genuine uncertainty, Peak played with the Gamecocks intentionally, just before throwing their hat and all the heavy-handed symbolism contained within it as casually as one would toss a fast food wrapper. Ouch, you know?
The easiest reaction to this: Another careless, attention-starved teenager spoiled by an environment that prematurely exalts him. Harumph. Maybe that's the only reaction. Maybe that's all there is to it.
Or maybe, just maybe, the fault lies not with the teenager having some goofy fun with one of the most exciting days of his life. Maybe the fault lies with anyone who would put stock into the decision in the first place. Maybe the fault lies with anyone who would actually be offended by what is, in the big scheme of things, an otherwise harmless bit of emotion-trolling. Maybe anyone who considers the donning of a hat to be a sacred ritual needs to re-evaluate the meaning of "sacred."
Maybe this isn't about Peak at all. Maybe everyone just needs to chill.