Wait before you tweet
Kids turn to Twitter for college announcements
Ihereby wish I could renounce the verbal commitment story. I won’t because I can’t. If I don’t do it, someone else will. Everybody wants to know which university Johnny Quarterback is going to attend.
So, I write it. I do those stories with one thought in mind: How quickly can I make this end?
It’s not because I’m not happy for Johnny Quarterback or genuinely interested in the news value of the story. It’s because the rules have changed.
Twitter has turned us into overpaid baby sitters. I’ve become increasingly cranky about writing commitment stories because now it seems the standard for making an announcement has drifted to an uncomfortable place.
Got a Twitter account? You, too, can tell me where you are going to college to play basketball. I’ll give four examples. Davon Dillard. Dillard’s mother, Kaliah Baker, broke the news to me that Dillard was going to La Lumiere. Dillard’s mother wanted him to go to La Lumiere. I’m convinced of that. The coaches wanted him to go. Their assistant coach, Brad Johnstin, re-tweeted the story after we posted it.
A funny thing happened after the story went up online. I got a call from someone affiliated with the program asking us to soften the part of the story that described a fight that Dillard was involved in at Bowman. He was a good kid and he didn’t deserve to have that hanging over him.
We agreed on the fact he was a good kid, but we left it (the incident) in. It was at the bottom, it was two lines and it essentially was for context as to why he might’ve been leaving.
I got another curious call later from someone else. Dillard’s admission to La Lumiere could be in jeopardy because of that story, which for the most part just detailed the reasons for his move. Please reconsider removing the line We didn’t. Turns out, that while the La Lumiere coaches wanted him to go, there were reservations from other school personnel about his qualifications for admission. He never admitted. Do I feel badly for him? Yes, but I hold the coaches at La Lumiere responsible. They needed to be up front with him and his mother about potential complications with the process.
Lonnie Johnson. Johnson started by announcing his commitment to Ohio State when he was a junior.
The West Side football and track star then backed off his senior year, saying it wasn’t the right fit. He ended up at Western Michigan. Or so that’s what he told us. We wrote about it. WMU wanted him. There was a problem. He hadn’t qualified academically. He might have thought he was going to qualify, but he didn’t. He is at a community college in California.
I wrote about that after I discovered the paper in Kalmazoo, where Western Michigan is, already had done a story on Johnson not coming. I hope he ends up at USC. I really do.
Martayveus Carter. Carter, of East Chicago, is at Grand Valley State. It’s a great school. It’s where Brian Kelly coached. It’s not Northern Illinois, which is where Carter wanted to go. He had made a verbal commitment to NIU before his senior season. There were academic issues. He altered his plans.
Zoran Talley. Talley, a Merrillville graduate, is at Old Dominion. In June, he was highlighted as the first kid from Midwest Elite Prep Academy to get a Division I offer. I wrote about it. He won’t play this year. The good thing is, he has a scholarship. He was a nonqualifier, but his scores were high enough that he essentially gets a year to work on his grades, according to a source.
Funny, but no one hops on Twitter and tells us it’s junior college instead of University High.
There was a time, not too long ago, when the coach would call the media and tell them about Johnny Quarterback making his decision to go to College U. Usually, when they do it, it’s all air-tight. They’d make the kid available to the media and we’d all write our stories. It worked out well. School gets a little publicity. The kid feels good. We get our story.
Those days are fading as fast as the print newspaper. My warning: Be careful in what you believe. Getting it right is way more treacherous than it used to be.
Bowman forward Davon Dillard, who was thought to be going to La Lumiere, was not accepted in the end due to qualifications for admission.