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May 21, 2010 at 5:38 AM

Romar Reflects On Recruiting Defections to Kentucky

Before we get to an interview with Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, here’s a few links to start the morning.
— Our story focuses on Romar and how he’s coping after Portland star recruit Terrence Jones had a sudden change of heart and signed with the Wildcats.
Steve Kelley takes a swipe at Jones and writes: “You screwed up and you no longer can hide behind the excuse that you’re only 18 and just a kid. It’s time to start acting like a grown-up.”
— Jones spoke to the Oregonian and said he wouldn’t undo the April press conference when he verbally committed to UW.
— Oregonian columnist John Canzano believes the Jones saga hasn’t ended and has likely just began.
— Here’s a different take on the Jones story courtesy of Seatown Sports.
Romar said losing Jones and Enes Kanter , another former UW commit, to Kentucky is disappointing, but the defections won’t deter plans to pursue top-tier recruits. He also gave his opinion on recruits signing financial aid agreements rather than a national letter of intent.
Here’s a portion of the Romar interview.
(Is this 2010 class complete or will you add someone else?) “We’re done. You never know three weeks from now someone says hey I’m interested in coming out of nowhere. That’s something that you didn’t expect. There’s no one that we see right now that would allow us to continue.”
(I know you can’t talk specifically about Terrence Jones so what are your thoughts on UW’s recruiting process?) “Just a very unique situation. I’ve been doing this 17 years and never been involved in one like this and I don’t know if we ever will again. This was a unique situation.”
(As you go forward and build this program, how do you recruit and sign top 10 level prospects?) “Well we’ve been going after them. In terms of getting them … Two of the recruits we got this year, we wouldn’t have landed if we had not done well this year. I say that to say we just have to continue working hard in putting a team out there that’s going to be successful and I think that thing takes care of itself over a period of time.”
(How do you balance recruiting five-star recruits with less-heralded recruits who may be your type of guys?) “To me there’s not a balance. There’s who out there that’s going to make you the best team that you can be that you have a chance to get. That’s the balance. Who do you have a chance to get? If you got no chance, you don’t want to spin your wheels and go after someone you’re not going to get. But do you have a legitimate chance to get this player and will they make you the best that you can possibly be. If you picking based on stars, you’re picking based on PR. We’re not looking for PR points. We’re looking for who is going to make us the best team and make us the best program possible. And whoever fits that criteria is who we’re trying to get. When you use the word balance, there is that word, but it’s based on who do you have a realistic chance of getting.”
(Do you have an understanding of what happened in the past three weeks?)

“Basically, just couldn’t make his mind up. But when you ask me that, now I’m getting more specific and I don’t know if should go there. But to go back to what you were saying about stars, C.J. Wilcox I don’t even know what star he was. At first when we first recruited him, he might have been a two or a three or something like that. I don’t know how many stars early on. Justin Holiday certainly didn’t have a lot of stars by his name, but he turned out to be pretty good. I could go on and on about guys who didn’t necessarily have a lot of stars. So again, we haven’t recruited based on the stars.”
(And you know that guys get a star added to their name when they get an offer from Washington, which wasn’t the case several years ago.) “If that’s the case then so be it. But again, a lot of times those stars mean someone is pretty good, pretty talented. But we don’t look to see the stars first. And there’s been some others that people just haven’t seen them early on. And they don’t have the notoriety yet, but we’ve been able to see them and we’ve identified and we can’t recruit saying they don’t have enough stars yet so we can’t take them even though we think they’re real good. I don’t care if there’s no stars by their name. If we feel they’re going to really help our program, then we’re going to go after them.”
(Is there a level of hurt when a commit goes somewhere else?) “You’re disappointed because you develop relationship with kids and in your mind you have a vision with how it’s going to work with them in this program and how you’re going to help this kid develop and how they’re going to help you. Then when that changes, it’s disappointing. When you’re recruiting someone and they’ve never committed to you and they go elsewhere, then that’s a part of what we do. But if someone does say I’m picking you, I’m coming with you and we’re getting ready to do this together from here on out and then if they were to change their mind, it’s very disappointing.
“But Lorenzo Wade, a guy who transferred from Louisville signed with us and never showed up. He went on to San Diego State and that was very disappointing. But if he would not have done that, we would have never had Quincy Pondexter. So it tends to work itself out.”
(Will you invest as much time and effort on the elite recruits in the future?) “Oh yeah. Like I said, I think this is a unique situation. Like I said, we’ve been here for eight years and I’ve been at D-1 doing this for 17 and it’s never happened before. Not once. This is not something we have to change how we recruit because this is something that’s ongoing. I don’t think this is something that’s going to happen every year if it ever happens again. So I’m not scarred by the situation like wow we got burned. But I tell you what happens. In the past you recruited guys that said I’m coming for sure and so maybe you’re lukewarm recruiting other players and then at the last second that player doesn’t come. Now you don’t have anyone to fill any spot. I’ve been scarred by that one so we make sure that we’re always prepared if someone doesn’t come that we’ve got others that are there. They aren’t necessarily backup plans, but just we’re recruiting more numbers so we avoid that happening.”
(Do you think signing a financial aid package is a growing trend?) “I think it’s too early to tell. I think if a student-athlete does that because he’s concerned that the coach is going to be there, then I can understand that. But if they do it because they’re just not totally sure, then I don’t think that’s a good direction to go.”
(Would you ever take a player who only wanted to sign a financial aid deal?) “We’d have to really, really have a good feeling for who the person was because hopefully they’re not doing it because they don’t know if I’m going to be here or not. So in my mind that’s not the reason so what is the reason? If they’re thinking – I’m just not sure and I don’t know if I like you better than the other school, but I’m ready to sign something – then I don’t know if we want to do that.”
(Did the Maui Invitational get a little bit more exciting now?) “(Laughter) Well you know with two guys that have de-committed so to speak there may be some media attention to that if we do play. But there are too many good teams in there to focus on just one game. You tell me our guys and myself won’t be excited to play against Michigan State, UConn, Oklahoma or Virginia? There’s a lot of good teams in there.”
(But is there a more of a rivalry with Kentucky now? It seems your players think so.) “With our guys, they’re familiar with a certain player they know that could have helped this team. And if they want to come out and say that there’s more incentive, I totally understand that. I know for me, you want to play against the best and Kentucky is one of the best programs out there.”
(Do you hold any ill will towards Kentucky coach John Calipari?) “No. No. Not at all.”
(But you know your fans don’t like the guy?) “It’s interesting. The fans are on your side, they’re pulling for you. And anytime something like that happens, I understand. The fans are competitive and the ones that love their Huskies I’m with them. I totally understand that. Me personally, I don’t personally get into holding a grudge when you lose a recruit to someone.”

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