None and done? - Tucson Local Media: Sports

None and done?

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Posted: Tuesday, July 8, 2008 11:00 pm

Some folks just have it in for us left-handers.

I’m a southpaw. So is the nation’s top basketball prospect Brandon Jennings. And that’s pretty much where our similarities end.

Jennings, after an early commitment to USC, signed a letter of intent with Arizona last November. But shaky SAT scores plague the 40-inch leaping point guard, who’s threatened to take his haymaker-wallop slam dunks to Europe for a year before repatriating to the NBA’s cash trough.

Like me, Green Fields girls’ hoops coach Tom Danehy ills watching the Wildcats offer tax-subsidized grooming for the NBA, pandering to early draft commits.

“Truly, it’s easy for somebody on the outside to say, ’Aww, the heck with that kid,’ but why would anybody want him?” Danehy said. “I just don’t understand it.”

Be warned. Danehy — a reservoir of court smarts with a stellar coaching record, and a complete skeptic of right-side cerebral dominance — dreams of a Guantanamo-destined lefty roundup.

Danehy poses a valid question of chemistry over biology. Can teams gel around soloists? Bearing Jerryd Bayless in mind, are single-shot recruits the future of Wildcat basketball?

Understanding why “anybody” wants Jennings — holder of practically every national prep basketball award that matters during the last year — is pretty easy: Points. Assists. And lots of both.

But the situation feels forced. It’s like Lute Olson’s pressed to deliver a top-notch scorer after his return from last year’s debacle — driven either by personal standards, testy bosses or booster pressure, you decide.

Regardless, it’s a drag to watch the UA bend over backwards for another one-and-done who shows little love for the school, offering no assurances he’ll attend even if his SAT scores do crawl to shore.

“If he were the absolute No. 1 greatest player in the history of basketball, you still have to be able to tell the kid, ‘You know what? You don’t want to come here, don’t come here,” Danehy said.

Arizona basketball issued no comments to the Explorer about the Jennings Saga.

So with the magnification relaxed from one centerpiece recruit, what message does the scenario send to the rest of Arizona’s athletes? Wildcats athletic director Jim Livengood fielded that one.

“We’re not at all — any of our almost 500 student-athletes — trying to bring somebody in here for the absolute shortest of term and have them not be serious about getting an education,” Livengood said.

“That’s not what we do, that’s not what we’re all about.”

I believe Livengood.

I also believe Jennings should get his passport photos taken and play in Europe, where he can cash a check for his efforts. Frankly, handed the choice to ball in Tucson or the Old World, I’d call Lufthansa on aesthetics alone.

And surely, there’s some talented kid willing to earn his scholarship and devote four full years to the ‘Cats in his place. The Wildcat brass needs to step up and build a squad of teammates — not me-firsts.

Even a righty can see that through tickets, tax dollars, or money spent at athletic boosters’ businesses, we’re polishing the frame on a shining era of entitlement.

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