Dave Benezra: L.A. high school and summer league coach. Gets flak from locals for steering California kids east and praise for fixing up marginal players with "boats." Recruiting pearls often appear in The Hoop Scoop under nom de hoop Ian Rockfish. To Benezra, a "rockfish" is someone who can play; a "studfish" is physically overwhelming.
: Former insurance man who lives in Lenoir, N.C. With wide summer travel—and without burden of running own camp—does best national scouting today. Gets calls around clock from harried recruiters. Subscribers to his $250-a-year premium service from as far away as Japan and Australia.
: Assistant at Georgia and former high school coach. While recruiter at Auburn, rarely showed at games. Busy cultivating Deep South contacts. Dawg coach Hugh Durham twice tried to lure "Tee" to staff; finally succeeded over summer. "Tee will control the state for Georgia," predicts old boss, Auburn coach Sonny Smith. Good thing, because too much peachy talent—Pervis Ellison, Dale Ellis, Kenny Walker—has gotten away.
Don Mead: Ex-aerospace manufacturer's rep who has West Coast covered. Recently added wired-in Long Beach Press-Telegram scribe Frank Burlison to firm, Don Mead & Associates. Says another writer who often pumps the loquacious Mead for poop: "Never call him on deadline. You'll miss it."
Rick Bolus: Ex-Boston College player. Quit teaching 10 years ago to run High Potential scouting service in Shepherdsville, Ky. Offers "last-chance saloon" showcase camp each April for unsigned high school seniors. Drives customized Dodge van "because I've got to pick up lots of kids at the airport."
Howie Garfinkel: Success of his Five-Star makes him dean of summer camp directors. After delivering 7:30 a.m. "human bugle" reveille over PA., entertains funk-fancying adolescents with scratchy Benny Goodman and Frank Sinatra records. Sold HSBI Report scouting service to aide-de-camp Tom Konchalski but still touts favorites. Has soft spot, according to one Garfophile, for "white, Catholic school point guards from New Jersey."
Sam Washington: Self-styled "Godfather of hoops" in Motown. Founded summer league in gym at St. Cecilia's Church shortly after Detroit riots. Says: "In Detroit they play high school games at 3:30 in the afternoon, and it's tough for [college] coaches to get to more than one game." So in the summertime, there's always a gaggle of coaches and recruiting specialists on hand checking out the prime-time runs at "Ceciliaville."
Meet the recruit's "guardian," or "family friend," or "uncle." More and more he's the one deciding what college Junior will attend. Probably he's legit—a caring neighbor or an AAU coach—and he's most likely to surface beside an inner-city youngster who may not have both parents (sometimes referred to by recruiters as "the old one-two combo") at home. Yet some aren't so much avuncular do-gooders as flesh brokers looking for a cut. "Where parental advice is minimal or nonexistent, many of these guys can do good," says Detroit coach Don Sicko. Says UC Irvine coach Bill Mulligan: "These guys have gotten more power than the high school coach." Adds Utah State coach Rod Tueller, "I don't talk to a kid who has one. These people want something, even if it's just recognition. But it's an ugly ego trip." Tueller says he's on the outs with several uncles in the L.A. area where he regularly recruits, because he won't play along with them.
One thing recruiters do like about an uncle: The NCAA allows an unlimited number of contacts with one because he's not a parent or legal guardian.