Commentary

Recruiting is key

Updated: November 18, 2013, 4:32 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

The key to success in the world of college basketball and college football is recruiting.

Let's face it, you could be the most brilliant coach in the world, doing an amazing job with X's and O's. You could have the greatest practice sessions, tremendous concepts, the ability to communicate and motivate.

It doesn't mean much if you don't have the horses, baby! To get to the winner's circle, you have to have talent. Talk about a big day in recruiting: On Friday, two of the top four players in America -- Jahlil Okafor from Whitney Young High School in Chicago and point guard Tyus Jones from Minnesota -- made their decision as part of a package deal.

It came down to Duke and Kansas. Coach Mike Krzyzewski was the big winner, and this talented tandem should please the Cameron Crazies. There was jubilation in the Duke basketball offices.

It was a great win for the Blue Devils, just a few days after losing on the court against the Jayhawks in Chicago. Andrew Wiggins & Co. got that win, but Duke won a different battle.

The fans in Lawrence did get some good news as 6-foot-9 Cliff Alexander picked the Jayhawks over Illinois.

Players of that stature help big-time. Your offensive efficiency is better with players like that in your uniform. Your concepts and defense look better when the talent is there.

Just think back to those great UCLA teams under the Wizard of Westwood, John Wooden. The man was a legend. He got the most out of his people, but it didn't hurt to have Lew Alcindor and the big redhead, Bill Walton, playing in the post.

Wooden won 10 national titles for the Bruins. He would have been the first to tell you it helps to have beasts, and then it is up to the coach to blend them into a unit. There is no doubt that the two coaches battling for Okafor and Jones, Coach K and Bill Self, have the ability to take great players and get them to be unselfish in the team concept.

Recruiting can break you heart, because finishing second doesn't help.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.

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