The Curious Recruitment of DeAndre Daniels
I imagine when Bill Self found out DeAndre Daniels had decided to go to UConn, he put down the phone (assuming Daniels had the courtesy to tell Self over the phone), turned to his assistant coaches and said, “That kid can go to hell.”
Daniels, a.k.a. The Big Procrastinator, is one of the top prospects in the country – ranked third-best small forward by Rivals – and a player who would have fit quite nicely splitting time between small forward and as a small four man next season at KU. For a long time, it looked like he would become a Jayhawk, and in case you’re unfamiliar with how Daniels’ recruitment went down, let me fill you in.
In the summer of 2009, Daniels verbally committed to Texas. Verbal commitments are not binding, but usually – certainly not always – recruits stick to their word.
Then last summer, instead of heading to Texas*, Daniels decided to put college off for a year, attend IMG Academy and reopen his recruitment. Daniels has spent the last year at IMG Academy, a school that isn’t really a school, just a place for top athletes to train for a year before they go to college. It’s sort of like a prep school, only without the books.
*Rick Barnes would probably be next in line behind Self for coaches who would like to congratulate Daniels on his college choice and give him a nice congratulatory kick in the nads.
Around Christmas time this past year, one of Daniels’ teammates at IMG and one of his good friends, Christian Garrett, enrolled at KU for the second semester as a preferred walk-on. Daniels, who had already graduated from high school, was expected to follow Garrett to Kansas. And if this is the same DeAndre Daniels, he even filled out some paperwork* to enroll at Kansas for the second semester as well.
*You have to assume there are not a lot of DeAndre Daniels out there, but it should be pointed out that the location of this DeAndre Daniels is Covington, Louisiana, and I’m not sure Daniels has any connection to that city.
Even when Daniels didn’t end up on campus, the consensus was still that he would eventually sign with KU. At the time, Daniels had a short list of KU, Kentucky and Texas.
Then sometime in April, it was rumored that Daniels had fallen in love with Duke, and Kyrie Irving even let it slip that Daniels was going to be a Blue Devil during a teleconference after he declared to go pro.
Then a couple weeks later, Duke recruit Alex Murphy, who had planned to go to prep school, decided he would enroll at Duke this fall instead. Murphy also plays small forward. Murphy’s decision, possibly the fact that Daniels did not meet Duke’s admission standards, which was rumored, and who knows what else, suddenly eliminated Duke from the running.
At some point, Kentucky dropped out as well. So that left Texas and KU, right? Nope. Oregon and Oklahoma State were suddenly in the mix.
On May 17, IMG coach Andy Borman said that both Daniels and teammate Jamari Traylor, who was also considering KU, would announce and sign a letter of intent the next day, which was the final day of the spring signing period.
Traylor, of course, signed with KU on May 18. Daniels did not announce and his coach said he would announce the next day, May 19.
And surprise, surprise! Daniels did not announce on May 19.
From there, Daniels finally quit saying that he would decide on a certain day, and KU kept recruiting him. Self was not allowed to comment on Daniels specifically because of NCAA rules, but he kept saying that KU was not finished recruiting yet and could still add a player. That player was Daniels.
The one school that had always been in consideration was KU, and that loyalty had to mean something to Daniels. It meant something to his dad, who reportedly had pushed for Daniels to go to KU all along, but something about KU must not have sat well with Daniels and last week we figured out what that was.
On June 2, a source close to Daniels’ recruitment told Adam Zagoria of Zags Blog that KU was on the “backburner” because the program is not known for featuring its wings*. And in that same report, Daniels added another school to the mix in Connecticut.
*The last two true wing players Self has coached are Brandon Rush and Xavier Henry. Rush, a guy known for being too unselfish, led KU in scoring for three straight years. Henry, who played with two All-Americans, was KU’s second-leading scorer his freshman season. Both were lottery picks. But maybe someone really smart told Daniels that KU is a program not known for featuring its wings, so it must be true.
And as we know now, Connecticut is where Daniels is headed, even though the Huskies just started recruiting Daniels and he never took a visit there.
This is not the first time KU has been the runner-up in a recruitment, and it’s difficult to get too upset at a kid for taking the time to make the decision that he believes is best for him. After all, who would want to come to a school that doesn’t feature its wings? Whatever were his reasons, the way Daniels played KU had to frustrate Self.
Now that Delaying Daniels has finally made a choice, KU will go forth with what could be its worst team under Self. That might have been the case if Daniels had attended KU, but he fit a need and he may have helped.
Check back next week and I will break down what KU will look like next season and what Daniels not coming to KU means for Self’s rotation.
As for Daniels, he’s earned himself a spot as a co-captain with Baron Davis on the All-Douches-That-Spurned-Kansas Team.