College Basketball Nation: Scott Duncan

3-point shot: Missouri-Dixon fallout

November, 30, 2012
1. There are a few issues with the Michael Dixon Jr. situation at Missouri. I'm not sure why Missouri allowed Dixon to announce he was transferring from the program instead of dismissing him first. The reporting on the story from Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia paints a much different picture, indicating that the senior guard was accused of two sexual assaults during his time at the school. Dixon, whom the Tigers suspended to start this season, will likely have trouble finding a new home to finish his college career. Based on the news Thursday, I find it hard to believe that another school would take a chance on him. The Tigers did the right thing by suspending him, but could have taken another step and let him go before the stories broke Thursday. Missouri will be fine on the court without him. This is a deep team that will add scoring guard Jabari Brown, an Oregon transfer, in a few weeks to pair up with Phil Pressey. The Tigers are still a legit threat to finish in the top three in the SEC. Having Dixon gone will ultimately be better for all parties involved.

2. Former Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie left quite an advantageous schedule, one that doesn't have the Red Raiders leaving Lubbock until Jan. 5. Interim coach Chris Walker has taken advantage of the opportunity. The Red Raiders, who are 4-0 and 3-0 against (low-level) Division I competition, are second in the country in scoring at 88.8 points per game. Texas Tech will get a real barometer on its progress Saturday when it hosts No. 9 Arizona. Texas Tech also gets Alabama on Dec. 19 and Arizona State on Dec. 22. That first road game is at TCU in the Big 12 opener. "We just have to play harder and more together,'' said Walker. "We've got to limit (Arizona's) transition and offensive rebounds. That will give us a chance.''

3. We may find out if Wyoming is a pretender or a contender Saturday when the 7-0 Cowboys host No. 19 Colorado. Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt is notorious for light nonconference scheduling, but now the Cowboys will be truly tested. The depth of the Mountain West is legit (see Boise State's victory Wednesday at Creighton). Assistant coach Scott Duncan said that, with a great crowd at the Arena-Auditorium, if Wyoming can continue to play tough defense, limit the 3s and make some of its own, the Pokes can pull off the upset.
This week's Sports Illustrated cover is deservedly dedicated to the Dallas Mavericks, those aging, ball-moving, Dirk-ifying Western Conference Finals participants. On that cover, in the top right corner, comes a tease far more enticing than anything the Mavericks could conjure. It reads: "The Secret Life of a College Basketball Recruiter."

In the end, the story stamped most of what you already knew about college basketball recruiting: It's brutal, tireless, travel-filled, unseemly and maybe even a little bit creepy. But there was at least one small bit of a intrigue afoot: Several times in the story, both Washington assistant coach Raphael Chillious and former UCLA assistant Scott Duncan talk on the record to SI reporter Bruce Schoenfeld about players they are currently recruiting.

The problem? NCAA rules prohibit coaches from talking about prospective student-athletes that have yet to sign a national letter of intent.

The examples aren't all that hard to find. Here's Chillious discussing 15-year-old Justin Jackson, a homeschooled native of Nederland, Texas, where Chillious is thrilled to be the only coach in the gym watching the game:
"This is a Polaroid that you shake off, stick on the refrigerator and date," he says. "Because later on, when Justin's a senior, I can talk about it. 'Man, how long ago was it, I saw you play that game in Nederland? Remember? You were in ninth grade. Man, you got so much stronger since then.' And other coaches won't have that memory with him."

Duncan, meanwhile, speaks about a recruit but isn't quoted in the following passage. Chillious, however, is:
[Recruit Jordan] Tebbutt is being recruited by every team in the Pac-10, plus Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas and Texas. Duncan believes UCLA has the inside track. As he talks about the prospect of landing this muscular baseline player with a shooter's range and touch, his gloom begins to lift. Yeah, he missed out on those point guards, but this is another cycle, a fresh chance. He swallows some coffee and stands up to go.

While Duncan was sipping coffee, Chillious was courtside, in the row of chairs provided for coaches and VIPs. He was there before anyone else, working the iPhone, waiting for warmups. "I was the first person Tebbutt saw this morning," he says. "Other coaches are here for the game, but they weren't here at 8:15. That stuff adds up."

Here's Duncan, on the record:
"I can't do a lot with Jordan Tebbutt at this tournament -- just make sure he sees me at the game, wave to his dad and mom, and that's it," Duncan says. "Anybody in a UCLA shirt could do it."

Later in the story, Chillious sits down "beside a Nike friend" and discusses the conversation he had with Duncan about highly touted 2012 recruits Shabazz Muhammed and Quinn Cook:
"It's amazing," he said. "Duncan really thinks they're going to get Shabazz." Then again, Chillious never heard of a player Duncan was recruiting that he wasn't confident he'd get. "He kept telling me, 'We're getting Quinn Cook,'" Chillious says, "and then Cook signs with Duke. He didn't see that coming? Dude could live next door to me, but if Duke decides they want him, it's tough."

There are a few more scattered instances of these sorts of statements. Some are more vague than others. None are particularly outlandish. They are, however, against NCAA rules. There's a reason head coaches never, ever comment on the record about players, and a reason why some -- like Butler's Brad Stevens -- won't even go that far. It's easy enough to avoid, and it's probably not worth the NCAA-related headache, however minor or secondary that headache may turn out to be. Given the usual reticence, it's almost as if Duncan and Chillious forgot there was a reporter around. They're not breaking down every player they see, of course, but they're not exactly being shy, either.

That's the question here: Are Chillious and Duncan in any sort of trouble? According to Pac-10 associate commissioner Mike Matthews, who spoke with the LA Times, details about the potential violations are still being gathered but don't appear to be remotely serious to this point:
"On the surface of things, it looks like a very, very secondary violation," Matthews said. "I wouldn't expect that the penalty would be terribly severe based on the facts as I understand them so far."

That sounds about right. Minor or not, though, this is a headache. If you want to go out on a limb, you could go ahead and say it's a headache neither UCLA coach Ben Howland nor Washington coach Lorenzo Romar want anything to do with in this all-important time of year. Bold statement, I know.