Steve Lavin knows other schools and coaches are using his prostate cancer recovery as a tool in negative recruiting.
And he’s taking them on when he talks to recruits — like former Texas A&M and current Johnnies point guard Jamal Branch (who must sit until December per NCAA transfer regulations).
“I brought it up right out of the gate,” Lavin told reporters Wednesday night at MSG before the Johnnies manhandled West Virginia, 78-62, behind a combined 42 points from freshmen Moe Harkless and D’Angelo Harrison.
“There’s an example, kind of proof in the pudding, whether I had cancer or not, it’s still such an attractive situation.We’re still able to sign top prospects and move our program forward.”Naturally in recruiting he’s going to hear from all the other schools, speculation, innuendo and rumors, so my inclination is to take that head on and just lay it out. We were able to convince Jamal that this was a great situation in spite of the fact that I’m currently recuperating from prostate cancer.
Lavin, 47, plans to sign five or six players from the Class of 2012 and has targeted decommits JaKarr Sampson and Ricardo Gathers, as well as forwards Chris Obekpa and Orlando Sanchez.
The Johnnies have only seven recruited scholarship players and started five freshmen against West Virginia.
After undergoing surgery in early October, Lavin returned in November and coached four games, going 2-2.
But it still remains unclear when he will return to the sidelines, and it’s possible he won’t coach again until next season.
“I’ll definitely be back on the sidelines, but I have to be mindful of the doctor’s advisement and doing what’s best for my health,” Lavin said. “I’m doing a disservice to our current team and our program if I don’t make the prudent choices when it comes to my health.”
“If they say the strenuous aspect of the way you coach is going to put your long-term health in jeopardy, why risk that? With a modified schedule you can still manage the program and still move us forward in terms of recruiting.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.