Posted: Friday August 5, 2011 11:15AM ; Updated: Friday August 5, 2011 12:05PM
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The Commitment Project: A study of top-100 recruit behavior (Cont.)

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Perils of an Early Commitment

Ryan Boatright verbally committed to USC when he was in eighth grade, but later reopened his recruitment, ultimately landing at UConn.
Ryan Boatright verbally committed to USC when he was in eighth grade, but later reopened his recruitment, ultimately landing at UConn.
Donnell Collins/AP

Boatright, a point guard from Aurora, Ill., who's part of UConn's 2011 recruiting class, has the distinction of being the earliest player in our database to make a verbal commitment. While attending an elite camp at USC in June 2007, the summer after completing the eighth grade, he received an offer from Floyd -- and accepted it on the same day. It was a big story at the time, as it fueled the "Should schools be offering scholarships to eighth graders?" debate, and it brought Boatright some unwanted attention. "What it did," he said, "was put a bull's-eye on my back at every tournament." Against the Kid With A USC Offer, opponents always acted like they had something to prove.

Still, neither Boatright nor his mother, Tanesha, regret the decision. Ryan was enamored with USC at the time (he said he was a fan of Reggie Bush and the movie Love and Basketball) and Tanesha saw it as a golden opportunity. "As a single mom with four kids, what more could you ask for?" she said. "That your son is going into his first year of high school already holding a scholarship to a good college? My goal was to put them all through college, and I wasn't going to be able to do so, financially."

What they lament is what happened after: Floyd resigned in the summer of 2009, Ryan reopened his recruitment, and in the fall of his senior year, settled on West Virginia, which told him he was the only point guard the school planned to add as a backup to Truck Bryant. The same week, the Mountaineers took a commitment from another top-100 point guard, Jabari Hinds, without telling Boatright about it in advance. He learned about it on Twitter. "I was like, 'Is this really happening again?'" Boatright said. "I thought I had waited it out and weighed all my options, and I thought West Virginia was going to keep its word. ... It turned out not to be like that."

After being burned by his first and second choices, Boatright backed away and eventually signed with UConn, which jumped into his recruitment after it became certain that Kemba Walker would leave early for the NBA, opening up a backcourt scholarship. Boatright's bumpy path is relevant because it's almost the norm for early commitments: 23 players in our database committed three or more years before they were scheduled to arrive at college, and 11 of them (47.8 percent) decommitted at least once. That's 2.9 times the overall average (16.3 percent).

In the chart below, which lists all 23 of the early-committers, dissatisfaction runs deep. Four players (Noah Cottrill, Taylor King, Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Dwayne Polee Jr.) transferred once they were in college, and three more (Tommy Mason-Griffin, B.J. Mullens and Jereme Richmond) made ill-advised decisions to turn pro early. Their urgency to commit to a college was only matched by their urgency to escape.

The Early Commitments (3-4 Years Out)
Player Commit School Commit Date Yrs Out Fate
Class of 2007
Taylor King UCLA 8/6/03 4 Decommitted 8/2/05, committed to Duke 1/12/06, Transferred to Villanova and Concordia
Michael Beasley Charlotte 9/2/04 3 Decommitted 3/30/06, committed to K-State 6/23/06
Class of 2008
B.J. Mullens Ohio State 11/3/04 4 Stayed committed, turned pro too soon
Matt Gatens Iowa 6/2/05 3 Stayed committed
Class of 2009
Alex Oriakhi UConn 8/11/06 3 Stayed committed
Jamal Coombs-McDaniel UConn 8/11/06 3 Stayed committed, transferred to Hofstra
Tommy Mason-Griffin LSU 9/8/06 3 Decommitted 4/15/08, committed to Oklahoma 7/21/08, turned pro too soon
Class of 2010
Dwayne Polee Jr. USC 10/17/06 4 Decommitted 12/1/09, committed to St. John's 5/6/10, transferred to San Diego State
Jereme Richmond Illinois 12/4/06 4 Stayed committed, turned pro too soon
Perry Jones Baylor 4/17/07 3 Stayed committed
Jared Sullinger Ohio State 5/10/07 3 Stayed committed
C.J. Leslie NC State 6/25/07 3 Decommitted 3/15/09, recommitted 4/21/10
Noah Cottrill West Virginia 7/2/07 3 Stayed committed, transferred, destination TBD
Dion Waiters Syracuse 7/12/07 3 Stayed committed
Kendall Marshall UNC 9/19/07 3 Stayed committed
Trae Golden Ohio State 10/22/07 3 Decommitted 7/7/08, committed to Tennessee 9/17/09
Crandall Head Illinois 12/26/07 3 Stayed committed
Class of 2011
Ryan Boatright USC 6/19/07 4 Decommitted after Tim Floyd resignation, committed to WVU, then UConn
Jamal Branch A&M 10/16/07 4 Decommitted 12/1/07, recommitted
Austin Rivers Florida 7/2/08 3 Decommitted 4/8/10, committed to Duke 9/30/10
Chane Behanan Cincy 8/13/08 3 Decommitted 8/1/09, committed to Louisville 9/7/10
Josiah Turner ASU 9/28/08 3 Decommitted 7/16/09, committed to Arizona 9/19/10
Tracy Abrams Illinois 12/18/08 3 Stayed committed

Is Transferring the Real Epidemic?

A top-100 recruit is almost twice as likely to transfer as he is to decommit. From the classes of 2007-09, the transfer rate was 24.8 percent, with 20.9 percent transferring once and 4.0 percent twice (Transfer data for the Class of 2010, which has only been in college for a year, and the Class of 2011, which is just arriving, was considered incomplete. They haven't had sufficient time to get disgruntled).

The transfer rate for a top-100 recruit is also nearly two-and-a-half times higher than the average for all Division I players. Data kept by the NCAA lists the overall percentage of four-year players at 10.7 percent in '07-08, 10.6 percent in '08-09, and 10.1 percent in '09-10.

 
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