Daily Herald
Illini's Zook can only watch as recruiting world changes
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Columnist
Published: 4/22/2008 12:10 AM

By now, everyone knows the NCAA has banned Division I-A football head coaches from recruiting during the current open period.

Everyone also knows Illinois coach Ron Zook is a miserable failure at listening when told to stay in one place.

You'd have a better chance of getting Zook to memorize and implement The Seven Habits of Highly Slothful People.

"Patience is not my strongest personality trait," Zook said.

So what's a guy like Zook going to do over these next four weeks while his assistants are out recruiting?

He's going to be on the road, too. Only he's going to speak at coaching clinics and figure out other ways to be out "selling the program."

Zook makes his first stop Wednesday at Mount Carmel, where he and several of his assistants will talk from 6-8 p.m.

What has inspired this unprecedented chance in recruiting?

Just to refresh everyone's memory, the spring period allows college coaches to visit with high school coaches about their prospects.

College coaches aren't allowed to meet or talk with potential recruits during this time, but it's a rule that has been fudged and/or flaunted in certain pockets across the country.

That's why head coaches have been banned from the road -- to prevent the rule from being fudged. Zook has at least two problems with this new plan.

"The reason that I was told is because they say when head coaches go out, they talk to the players," Zook said. "And I said, 'That ain't right.' But I will tell you this: If a high school coach is bringing a player in to talk to a head coach, he's bringing in a player to talk to an assistant coach, too.

"So it don't matter. They're talking to the coaches, right, wrong or indifferent."

The other issue grows bigger every day and needs to be addressed soon.

Because operator/writers for Internet sites, such as Rivals.com and Scout.com, are the only ones who have unregulated access to recruits when coaches can't talk to them, it's an area that's ripe for corruption.

Some programs have secretly allied themselves with the Web sites that report on their school as another way to communicate with recruits.

In return, the Web sites get better information, more traffic and make more money.

"We're turning the recruiting over to the so-called recruiting gurus," Zook said. "Now, all of a sudden, just like you've got basketball coaches complaining that it's turning over to the AAU coaches, now we're turning it over to these guys that can call them.

"Well, you know what a lot of them are saying. They're selling their school to these kids, and we're not able to talk to them. To me, we're losing this thing, in my opinion."

DePaul, NU strike late gold

If DePaul's Jerry Wainwright and Northwestern's Bill Carmody could dance, you'd find them lying in the street, exhausted from celebrating their last-minute recruiting coups.

Carmody's big hit can be found if you shift your eyes to the column on the right.

Wainwright just picked up a letter of intent from Krys Faber, a 6-foot-11, 250-pound power forward from Los Angeles who averaged 15.8 points, 17.5 rebounds and 5.4 blocks per game at Ribet Academy.

"I don't want to stick a piano on his back," Wainwright said, "but I think he has a chance to be a really, really special player."

And Wainwright begs you not to take this the wrong way, but he couldn't help mentioning Faber and Tim Duncan in the same sentence.

"He's not Tim Duncan," Wainwright said. "But he's got the same kind of long body as Tim Duncan. He's more of a 'movement' player. He can really run, very athletic."

Though he's not handing Faber a starting job, Wainwright envisions Faber being a perfect complement to sophomore Mac Koshwal in DePaul's frontcourt next year.

Seven-foot-2 redshirt freshman Kene Obi, who's "improving every day," and senior power forward Matija Poscic, who has gained 15 pounds since season's end, will also be in the mix with Faber, who had late interest from UCLA and other NCAA perennials.

"He's coordinated," Wainwright said. "Great balance. He hasn't even scratched the surface of how strong he can be. He's exactly the piece that we needed."

willhite@dailyherald.com