It is from the seattle PI.
Wednesday, June 9, 2004
Locked on Sports: Clean or not, recruiter mines Beach
By DAVID LOCKE
SPECIAL TO THE POST-INTELLIGENCER
Let me tell you a story that includes a successful high school basketball program, six highly touted high school players and a vagabond college assistant coach. The story takes place in the sordid world we know as college basketball.
First, let me tell you the facts surrounding the story. Over the past six years, this high school has had six high-level Division I basketball recruits. One of the six signed a letter of intent to play football. However, the other five spanned the country to play college hoops.
Player A moved 2,310 miles away from his hometown. The move didn't go well. His college career was littered with infractions and controversy. His stay in college lasted just one year after two suspensions and his advisers' attempt to conceal his identity while securing loans for the player.
Players B and C both went 1,110 miles away from home to a program with a limited amount of college basketball history.
Player D originally committed the winter of his junior year to the same school as players B and C. Then he reneged on that commitment and switched to a school 3,300 miles away from home with no basketball heritage. He changed his mind again and signed with a school nearly 2,000 miles from home.
Lastly, Player E is still in high school and is scheduled to visit the same school Player D recently decided to attend.
The key figure in this story is a college assistant coach. What is remarkable is that all of these players followed this man no matter where he was coaching.
The assistant coach is Kurtis Townsend. Townsend started his college coaching career at the University of California under Todd Bozeman. Townsend coached at California from 1993 to 1997.
During that period, the NCAA conducted three investigations of the University of California. One investigation surrounded Townsend's recruitment of Shareef Abdur-Rahim. Another focused on Townsend recruit Tremaine Fowlkes and resulted in a 12-game suspension because Fowlkes received a loan to purchase a car.
The third investigation was the doozy. According to Jelani Gardner's father, he was promised $15,000 a year for his son to play for the Golden Bears.
The result was Bozeman receiving an eight-year suspension from the NCAA and a three-year probation for the school.
From California, Townsend went to Eastern Kentucky, where he worked under Scott Perry. Perry was an assistant coach at the University of Michigan under Steve Fisher when Chris Webber, Robert Traylor and others were involved in a payment from boosters scheme that resulted in erasing the Fab Four years from the record books.
Michigan was Townsend's next stop. It was at Michigan that Townsend made his first connection with the aforementioned high school and its six high-level Division I basketball players.
The high school is Rainier Beach in Seattle.
Player A is Jamal Crawford. Crawford's recruitment left him suspended twice. Barry Henthorn attempted to conceal Crawford's identity while securing loans for him. According to published reports, Henthorn met with Townsend during the recruitment of Crawford.
Townsend left Michigan after the 2001 season and moved to USC. Soon after, he successfully recruited Rainier Beach's Stewart twins. Lodrick and Rodrick Stewart are Players B and C. Townsend was now 3-for-3.
It was during Townsend's stay at USC that he made contact with Player D, C.J. Giles. Giles committed to USC to play for Henry Bibby and Townsend.
However, Townsend left USC for Miami. Giles reneged on his commitment to USC and signed with Miami.
In March, Townsend and Miami head coach Perry Clark were fired. Giles promptly wanted out of his letter of intent.
After visiting the University of Washington and the University of Kansas, Giles decided to attend Kansas. Monday, Kansas hired Townsend. Giles had now traveled the country to stay with his man. Townsend is 4-for-4.
Player E is Terrance Williams, who is finishing his junior year at Rainier Beach. Williams is scheduled to visit Townsend and Kansas Monday through Wednesday. Williams calls Kansas his No. 1 choice. It looks as though Townsend goes 5-for-5.
That is the story. All of Rainier Beach's highly touted Division I prospects have followed the same man across the country no matter what school he is at. The only one not to follow is Nate Robinson, who signed a football scholarship with the University of Washington.
Now it is time for you to decide: Is it a happy story or a dirty story? Is Townsend so remarkably good with the kids that Crawford told the Stewart twins they had to play for him at USC? Did the Stewart twins tell the same to Giles? Is he so charismatic that Giles was willing to follow him to three different schools?
Or does it reek? Is this the grubby world of college basketball where AAU coaches, high school coaches and high school athletic directors are funneling kids to one coach who is in turn scratching their backs? Or is this an assistant coach whose recruiting pitch is so good players can't resist going wherever he is calling from?
There are no answers, only room for you to decide, and to watch what happens with Player E.