This is the summer of our NLI discontent.
Cases involving players wanting out of their national letters of intent -- and the schools intent on keeping them, or restricting their movements to other schools -- have abounded. There was Walter Pitchford and DePaul. Alabama and Justin Knox. Ole Miss and Murphy Holloway. The Providence vs. Joseph Young standoff continues to worsen. Taken in total, it's enough to make you question whether the national letter of intent is even a good idea anymore.
One story we didn't get to when it originally broke has a slightly different look, but relates to the inequality inherent in the NLI system all the same. That's the story of former Marquette recruit D.J. Newbill, whose scholarship offer was rescinded by Buzz Williams and his staff on July 1. The 6-foot-4 combo guard signed a letter of intent with Marquette April. Then, 6-foot-7 Oregon forward Jamil Wilson decided to transfer to the Golden Eagles. For the crime of being not quite as talented as Wilson, Newbill's offer was soon rescinded. (Williams told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Newbill's release was based on "a culmination of things." Which is basically true, I guess.)
Good news, though: Newbill has landed on his feet. He'll be playing his college hoops for Southern Mississippi this fall, and he'll be doing so alongside former Strawberry Mansion High School teammate Dwayne Davis. (It's at this point that I'd just like to say that I wish I went to a high school named "Strawberry Mansion High." It sounds like a Sgt. Pepper's-era Beatles b-side, and it is awesome.)
Stan Laws, Newbill's former high school coach, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Newbill and his family remain hurt by their Marquette experience, but that Newbill had plenty of offers once he re-opened his recruitment, so he's not merely making a fallback choice. Good for him. Marquette pulled the rug out from under Newbill's feet. College basketball coaches' power to release and run-off less talented scholarship players remains ironic, given that schools also have the power to force those players to stay in their NLIs when seeking a release. It is laughably unfair.
But until that inequality is balanced, this is just how the cookie crumbles. Hopefully Newbill's new school is as excited to have him as Newbill is to attend.
(Hat tip: BIAH)