Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Coach K Getting ‘Cooler’ With Recruits While Coaching Team USA
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — When the Nike Global Challenge began here at Episcopal High School on Friday, virtually every high-major college coach in the nation descended upon the elite prep school.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has been busy in Las Vegas preparing Team USA for a gold medal run at the London Olympics.
Coach K will actually be a few miles from the Nike event beginning Saturday, when Team USA trains in Washington, D.C., in preparation for Monday’s exhibition against Brazil at the Verizon Center.
But Coach K’s Olympic duties haven’t prevented him from staying in touch with some key recruits by text.
Just ask Marcus Lee.
Lee is a 6-foot-8, athletic forward from Deer Valley (Calif.) Antioch, who has drawn rave reviews here so far from the college coaches and NBA scouts.
Lee stays in regular contact with Coach K even as the Duke coach is preparing his team for an Olympic run.
“Before this, I called him and talked to him and said, ‘So, will I see you during these games?'” Lee said after putting up 16 points on 8-for-9 shooting to go with 6 rebounds in USA West’s 98-69 rout of Puerto Rico Friday night.
“He was like, ‘No, because I’m still coaching the USA.’ And I just froze. I’m like, ‘He just got so much cooler.'”
Lee added: “The first time he called me I was terrified. I was like, ‘This is Coach K, don’t know what to do.’ And then I missed the call and I called him right back.”
The list of college coaches here Friday read like a Who’s Who.
Kentucky’s John Calipari, Kansas’ Bill Self, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, UConn’s Jim Calhoun, Florida’s Billy Donovan and on and on.
Yet even though Williams is here and Coach K isn’t, Lee said the North Carolina coach is in touch with him less than the Duke coach.
“It’s not as much as Duke,” he said. “Duke is just always so into it.”
And Coach K isn’t just texting Lee, either.
He’s likely in touch with other top 2013 targets like Jabari Parker and Julius Randle, too.
Parker, the consensus No. 1 player in 2013, recently cut his list to 10 schools, and Duke, Michigan State and Kentucky figure to be among the finalists for his services.
Randle has a long list of impressive suitors, including Duke.
Lee described Coach K as having “crazy energy” when he does text recruits.
“Even when we’re texting I have to use way too many exclamation points just to keep up,” Lee said.
Lee said he was in touch with Coach K on Thursday, just hours before Team USA routed the Dominican Republic in Las Vegas.
“I texted [Coach K Thursday] morning, just seeing how their team is doing,” Lee said.
What did he think when Coach K responded despite coaching the Olympic team?
“That’s real cool,” Lee said.
Fact is, you can’t pay for the kind of publicity Coach K is getting with Team USA when he appears on ESPN’s “Sunday Conversation” and is all over SportsCenter.
As for Lee, he sees other coaches in the stands recruiting him, and mentioned Washington, Cal, North Carolina, Louisville, Indiana and Kentucky among his strongest suitors.
Lee plans to cut his list to “seven or eight” after Peach Jam and even though Coach K will be coaching in England and Spain then, don’t bet against Duke making Lee’s cut.
Follow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd like ZAGS on Facebook
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 and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.