Seymore felt as if he'd been punched. "Why can't we get a damn break?" he said to Welsh. "One damn break."
Two weeks later Gist orally committed to Maryland.
Like a jilted lover, Seymore thought of Gist often while recruiting the class of 2004, and he was thinking of Gist as he walked into a gym in Ewing, N.J., in early July. He had gone from finishing second on James Gist to scouting a 6'10" beanpole whom coaches weren't sure was good enough to play in the Big East and who was rumored to be better at golf than basketball. From the next Vince Carter to a future competitor on the Nationwide tour.
Seymore was in Ewing as a favor to DeMeo. In June, Nick Blatchford, the coach of New Heights NYC, a traveling team based on New York City's Upper West Side, called DeMeo to promote one of his new players, Randall Hanke, a 6'10" center who had played at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa. "He's developing," Blatchford said. "You should see him." But Hanke hadn't academically qualified for Division I play and was now headed for a fifth year of high school at Trinity-Pawling, a prep school in Pawling, N.Y. Providence might sign Hanke but not be able to enroll him.
After June's Rumble in the Bronx tournament (one which, because it is scheduled during a so-called recruiting "quiet period," coaches are not allowed to attend), DeMeo read Internet reports from recruiting analysts and was surprised by the positive reviews on the pivotman. The Eastern Invitational in Ewing from July 7 to 10 was the next camp in which Hanke was scheduled to appear, but it started when the more prestigious Nike and ABCD camps (the latter of which takes place in Teaneck, N.J.) were already in session. DeMeo was stuck in Indianapolis babysitting DeSean White, but in a stroke of luck Bob Walsh, the Friars' third assistant, had arranged to work the Eastern Invitational as a counselor. Walsh called DeMeo after Hanke's first game with this report: "He is a legit 6'10" and long and athletic. He's a player, and we should get him."
"I haven't even seen him," DeMeo confessed.
"Well, you should because this is a kid we could really use," Walsh said.
DeMeo called Seymore, who was finishing up at ABCD, and Seymore agreed to drive the 60 miles to Ewing and offer a second opinion on Hanke. When Seymore arrived, the courts at the College of New Jersey were packed with coaches from small Division I schools and those from lower NCAA levels. Immediately, an assistant from Elon approached Seymore. "What are you doing here?" he asked. Seymore, who knows the assistant, nodded toward the court where Hanke was warming up. "The big man."
"Hanke? He's not good enough for you all," the assistant said. "Plus, he's going to Elon. He committed to Elon." Seymore was laughing inside. It had been a long time since someone tried to talk him out of recruiting a kid.
The assistant followed Seymore around, saying over and over, "He's going to Elon." Seymore kept repeating, "Really ... Elon ... That's great."