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More than any other recruiter, the crew-cut Stegmann seems at home in the gymnasium and playground atmosphere. He wears black " Ivy League" jeans which often pass for charcoal flannels, multicolored sport shirts and an ill-fitting jacket. "I been in this racket five years, since I was 18," Stegmann explained not long ago. "It's a full-time job for me. I scout for Honey Russell [ Seton Hall's basketball coach and baseball expert]. I do basketball in the winter and baseball in summer."
Stegmann was especially busy at the Flushing tournament, scouting for both Seton Hall and Providence. First, he rounded up a group of prospects for a Providence try out session, held on Long Island on April 3. Then he brought the same boys over to New Jersey for a once-over by the Seton Hall powers on April 21. Both schools collared a couple of Stegmann's prot�g�s.
Stegmann is the leading exponent of a familiar recruiting guise. He is a name-dropper of the first order, perhaps to satisfy his own ego, certainly to impress high school prospects. "I know at least 50 college coaches to speak to," he sometimes says. "About six—at Seton Hall, Fordham, Iowa State, NYU, Providence and San Francisco—are personal friends of mine."
Of Gotkin, Stegmann has said, "What does he know about this racket? He don't know the game. I know it." Clutching his copy of Howard Hob-son's Scientific Basketball, Stegmann added, "Those other guys toss their own money around. But they don't know nothing about the game."
Gotkin sweepingly dismissed both Garfinkel and Stegmann: "These men are not gentleman sportsmen."
While the scouts step on each other's psyches competing for athletes, all is not sweetness and light for the players. "The whole thing is out of hand," Garfinkel sums up. "The kids have been lost sight of."
"At first, it's all real nice," said Tom Sanders, a top prospect last year who is now a freshman at NYU. "Everybody wants to talk to you. They want to see that you have a good time. But then too many people try to give their opinions. You get all balled up. The scouts start demanding answers. After a while you just wish they'd leave you alone and go away."
Not all players are quite so anxious to be left alone. "Sure, I don't like being bothered all the time," one youngster said. "But I wouldn't trade it for anything. Guys take me to lunch. They take me to dinner. They buy me a beer when I want it. And they don't give me a funny look. If I need a couple of bucks for a date, there's always some scout who'll give it to me."
"Most of these scouts are nuts," another boy insisted. "They go running around like a gang of little kids, making wild promises and always bragging. Take Spook. He says he had a line on Wilt Chamberlain before Wilt went to Kansas. That's a helluva note. He had a line on Chamberlain like I had a line on Chamberlain! We both saw him play once. The other day Spook said he could get me a scholarship to New York Military Academy. That's great—I already have a scholarship there."
"One advantage which I have over the other scouts," Gotkin confides, "is that I don't pester kids all hours of the night. Garfinkel does that. I let the others do their talking first. Then I move in. Nine times out of 10 the kid winds up where I want him."