Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Updated: October 28, 2:52 PM ET
Lights, camera, action
By Dave Telep
There have been some great recruiting tactics employed over the years. An all-time favorite was when former Texas assistant Rob Lanier showed up in a "Willowridge Basketball" T-shirt to watch T.J. Ford play AAU ball. Of course, Willowridge was Ford's high school and the ploy worked. Ford became Rick Barnes' signature recruit and set the tone for UT's program.
Lanier's famous tactic is a decade old and we've told the story too many times to count. Could it be that a new chapter in recruiting tactics history is on the verge of being written?
Friday night in Memphis, Penny Hardaway was on the video board for opening night in the second year of the Josh Pastner Era. Hardaway, a homegrown talent who stayed local and starred for the Tigers, talked about how meaningful it was to wear the Tigers' jersey and represent his hometown.
In the audience that night was the No. 9-ranked player in the country, local SF Adonis Thomas (Memphis, Tenn./Melrose), and it didn't take long for him to figure out the fix was in. Hardaway's message was intended for one specific person.
"The whole time I was thinking that this video tribute has to be directed to me," Thomas said. "He talked about staying home, being a hometown hero and playing and representing where you been all your life. It was great seeing it and I thought it was directed to me. It was a good video; I thought it was great. There were a lot of things on the video I didn't know about Penny myself."
Thomas isn't tipping his hand, but you can almost bet the ranch that Memphis will be one of his final choices. The Tigers connect with him on many different levels, including one key factor: the players.
"I played AAU or played in a camp with the majority of those guys," said Thomas. "Being young, I never really imagined college basketball. Seeing those guys finally being able to play college basketball is great."
Florida, UCLA, Arkansas and Tennessee would love nothing more than to spoil a good hometown hero story.
"I'll probably say I have one or two [schools] in mind but not that one school [yet]."
His high school season begins Nov. 1 and it's a safe bet that Thomas pops before Melrose tips it up for practice.
"To stay or not to stay, it's a big decision," Thomas said.
Twenty years ago, while sitting in a class at Treadwell High in Memphis, Hardaway was thinking the same thing.
Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at email@example.com.