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J-Mychal Reese Proving Package Deals Are Still Alive

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“Package deals” in which college basketball programs provide jobs to family members and former coaches of elite recruits were supposed to be eliminated in 2010 with a new NCAA rule. But as you’re about to find out, there’s still one massive loophole that’s being exposed.

As we’ve profiled on the site before, package deals had become an out-right plague on college basketball by 2010, with shady deals stretching all the way from Danny Manning’s time at Kansas and Chris Webber’s run with the Fab Five to Michael Beasley’s one year at Kansas State and John Wall’s recruitment at Baylor. College coaches often created positions at the program just to accommodate a family or former coach for a future NBA star.

So the NCAA cracked down with a new rule that rule stating in very clear terms, “during a two-year period before a prospective student-athlete’s anticipated enrollment and a two-year period after the student-athlete’s actual enrollment, an institution shall not employ an individual associated with the prospective student-athlete in any athletics department noncoaching staff position.”

In essence, the NCAA was playing a game of chicken with college basketball coaches. If they really wanted to hire a family member or coach of a top recruit, they would have to trade one of their three assistant positions to do it instead of some vague title such as “director of basketball operations.”

This rule has already negatively affected some recruits, as Cincinnati recruit Jermaine Sanders and Iona point guard MoMo Jones were both prohibited from playing at St. John’s after Steve Lavin hired their former high school coach, Moe Hicks.

But the bigger problem with the new rule is that coaches desperate enough for talent are naming prospect associates to their coaching staff and exposing the rule’s loophole.

UTEP head coach Tim Floyd, who was run out of USC after serious NCAA infractions, was in serious need of a talent upgrade if he ever wanted to return to a big-time job when he landed in El Paso last year. So what did Floyd do? He hired Jason Niblett, a top prep school coach in Virginia who built Heat Academy into a national power.

Because he was named an assistant, Niblett was allowed to lead his former players Michael Haynes and Desmond Lee out West. Haynes in particular was a top talent that was also recruited by the likes of Minnesota and Xavier. While neither is currently on the roster, Floyd was seen as once again bending the rules for his own personal gain.

And that brings us to J-Mychal Reese. The 40th overall recruit in the nation according to Rivals.com, Reese is a point guard phenom that was profiled by ESPN.com at the age of 13. Here’s a snippet: “Although still a boy, J-Mychal Reese has long been certified as The Man.”

And as luck would have it, his high school coach at Bryan High School right next to College Station, TX, just-so-happens to be his father, John Reese, who has coached the program since 2001.

According to Jeff Goodman at CBS Sports, the elder Reese now has standing offers to become an assistant coach at Texas A&M, Texas Tech and LSU. All three undoubtedly are extending those offers with the expectation that J-Mychal will follow in a classic package deal.

It’s clear why all three are willing to sacrifice a spot on their bench for top talent.

LSU’s Trent Johnson is coming off a disastrous 11-21 season and he won’t be around much longer in Baton Rouge if he can’t recruit players like his predecessor, John Brady, was able to do. As for Texas A&M and Texas Tech, both have new coaches in Billy Kennedy and Billy Gillispie that want to hit the ground running in their new Big 12 jobs if they are to compete with the likes of Kansas and Texas.

But all this leaves fans wondering if the 2010 rule is a joke and just another sad attempt by the NCAA to crackdown on college sports corruption that has failed miserably. After all, if LeBron James had been forced to play one year of college basketball, you can bet dozens of programs would have been willing to even give his infamous mom Gloria an assistant job at their program.

Not only do cases like John Reese’s make a mockery of college basketball, it also makes fans wonder if there is a secret agreement that John Reese will only serve as an assistant as long as his son is at the school, at which point he will step down to a mid-major program that he’s able to land with an SEC or Big 12 program on his resume.

After all, it sure was suspicious when Ronnie Chalmers resigned as the director of basketball operations just months after his son, Mario, hit a shot the propelled the Jayhawks to the 2008 national championship and he left school early for the NBA draft.

So what is the NCAA to do?

Not allow anyone associated with a recruit to become an assistant coach either? Slap a show clause on any such associate so that programs must prove the hiring is not a package deal?

Whatever the case may be, it’s pretty clear the package deal is from far dead and must be dealt with again by the NCAA.

 
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