Saturday, March 12, 2005

Strange or Sick? Iowa, ISU Courting 8th-Grade Girl

These are strange times, my friends.

How strange?

Strange enough that an eighth-grade girls’ basketball player is receiving considerable recruiting attention in Minneapolis.

Strange enough that Iowa and Iowa State are among the 30 universities and colleges that are paying attention to her.

Actually, to me, this is more than strange.

It’s sick.

I found out about Tayler Hill, a guard from Minneapolis South High School, in an e-mail sent to me by a guy who follows women’s collegiate basketball closely:

The e-mail:

“According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Iowa and Iowa State are among about 30 women's teams that are trying to recruit a player from Minneapolis who is still in the eighth grade.

“There should be a rule against that.”

I agree.

The Star-Tribune story was written by John Millea, who once worked at the local paper.

Here’s what Millea wrote about the 14-year-old, 5-foot 9-inch Hill:

"She talks in her sleep before big games," [said her father,] Paul Hill, before the game.

"And she talked in her sleep last night."Hill scored a team-high 18 points [in a 54-49 loss to Lakeville in the state girls’ tournament] on a mix of long-range shots and drives to the basket, showing no fear. She was the only girl on either team to play all 32 minutes.

After the loss she was already thinking of next season, when all five South starters will be back.

Sitting courtside was a woman who is thinking five years down the road. Gophers coach Pam Borton, who had watched 6-3 and very uncommitted Kennedy junior Jenna Smith in the previous game, stayed in her seat for the South-Lakeville contest. Borton is part of a long line of college coaches who are courting Hill, whose favorite class is algebra and whose homeroom teacher is "Mr. H" [Ron Hustvedt] at Anne Sullivan Communication Center, a K-8 Minneapolis public school.

The day before the game, the home of Paul and Monique Hill and their five kids received calls from coaches at Illinois, Iowa and Iowa State. Thirty or so schools have made contact, including Tennessee, Kansas, Penn State, USC, UCLA and the Gophers. Since Paul doubles as his daughter's summer AAU coach, college coaches can contact him as "coach" rather than "dad."

Tayler, who is 5-9 and should add a couple more inches, was selected to the Star-Tribune All-Metro first team after leading the metro in scoring this season with a 22.1 average. That might not have been a high enough honor, according to Minneapolis North coach Faith Patterson, whose team has won four 3A titles since 1998 and is going for No. 5 this week.

"I think she's the metro player of the year, quite honestly," Patterson said. "She's smart, she knows the game and she reads defenses well. She keeps moving, she's in great shape, she's very athletic. She knows what she's capable of, and she's smart enough and savvy enough to get it done."


The same e-mailer who thinks there should be a rule against recruiting 8th-graders also has a comment about another subject:

“On another matter,” he wrote, “every time the proposed race track in Newton gets in the news, it is reported that NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace will design the track.

“Just how much expertise does it take to design a race track? I'm willing to bet that he comes up with one that is oval.”

Good thinking. The day they put in a square race track somewhere in Iowa—or anywhere else—we’ve got a scoop.”


I laugh these days every time I look at Bobby Knight on the Texas Tech bench.

One of the first things I see is the “O’Reilly Auto Parts” logo on the front of his black sweater.

With that in mind, I fully expect Iowa's Steve Alford to show up for a game sometime soon with a logo on his suitcoat that says “Hy-Vee Meat Counter.”


Memo to the NCAA tournament selection committee:

Iowa State lost a tough game in Kansas City to Bobby Knight’s Texas Tech team, 64-56, yesterday in the Big 12 tournament. Iowa lost to Wisconsin in Chicago today, 59-56, on a buzzer-beating shot that was launched from Kankakee by Alando Tucker in the Big Ten tournament.

Regardless of the defeats, the Cyclones and Hawkeyes are playing very, very well late in the season. Both teams should go dancing.


E-mailer Mark Robinson calls it sad that Gene Keady has coached his last game for Purdue:

“Well, that's the end of the Old Guard in the Big Ten.

“Gene Keady was the last of the long-tenured Big Ten basketball coaches to say farewell. Oh, Izzo and Ryan have a head start, but almost all the other coaches are basically starting from scratch [OK, Alford has had 6 years to take Iowa to the all too familiar precipice of missing the NCAA tournament for all too familiar reasons].

For me, it was a sad day. Not because we won, but because another Great Teacher called it quits. And he did it just in time. This Purdue season will be forgotten in a heartbeat by Purdue fans.

I recall thinking back in the 90's that Keady seemed to possess some sort of magic, winning Big Ten Championships right and left. At least, it seemed so.

I recall the Old Guard: Bob Knight, Tom Davis, Lou-Doo, Jud, a lot of victories there. A TON of victories.

Now we have a bunch of newbies [yeah, even Izzo is still a newbie by Keady's standards].

Don't ask me to list those current Big Ten coaches who I believe will be remembered for their great works and those who will be forgotten in time.

Keady was a character, a great coach, and a credit to the Big Ten. He earned his stripes the hard way, and survived to tell about it.

Best regards,


[RON MALY’S COMMENT: Keady’s days at Purdue are over, but I’m betting he’ll turn up on a basketball bench somewhere next season—maybe not as a head coach, but as an assistant. With that haircut, his teaching knowledge and his scowl, how could any team go wrong by not having him on the payroll? ESPN would show up for a game just to get some more footage of the super-glued hair].


I wondered all season what had become of Jon Sundvold, who had been the commentator on Big 12 Conference “Big Monday” basketball games.

Instead of Sundvold, viewers this season got former coach Fran Fraschilla—and I thought it was a bad trade-off.

I asked Mike Green at Iowa State what he knew about the change, and here’s what he told me:

”From what I had heard, ESPN decided they wanted to go with someone different and they basically let Sundvold go. Jon did the Big 12 ESPN ‘Big Monday’ games for the last five years.

“However, I heard that ESPN wanted a former coach and more of a
‘name’ for the ‘Big Monday’ games.....I think Jon is
still doing some Missouri telecasts, but he is not doing as many games as he used to.’’

The ironic thing is that Sundvold—the younger brother of former Iowa State assistant coach Bob Sundvold—basically replaced Gary Thompson as the No. 1 Big 12 TV commentator five years ago.

That move was supposedly made to to give Big 12 telecasts a "new look."

I guess Sundvold's look got old in a hurry.

Thompson recently recently retired as Iowa State’s regular-season commentator.

Vol. 4, No. 319
March 12, 2005