Blakeney Says Nike Affiliation Had No Effect on Louisville Decommitment | Zagsblog
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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.
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Friday / July 19.
  • Blakeney Says Nike Affiliation Had No Effect on Louisville Decommitment

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    BlakeneyBy JOSH NEWMAN

    The perception of Antonio Blakeney right now is that the 5-star shooting guard reneged on his verbal commitment to Louisville, an adidas school, due to the fact that his AAU program, Each 1 Teach 1 (E1T1) is a Nike school.

    Blakeney is now being courted by primarily Nike schools in Kentucky, Missouri, Florida State, USC and LSU, but he maintains that his Nike AAU affiliation has nothing to do with it.

    “(The speculation emerged) because I have been playing with Nike for a long time, and Louisville is adidas, and then of course all the other schools that were on my list were Nike, so that’s a conclusion that someone could make — and it’s a conclusion that could be true — but just in my case, it’s not,” Blakeney told Steve Jones of the Courier-Journal for a story analyzing which shoe company-sponsored programs get the most recruits. 

    Blakeney pulled his verbal commitment to the Cardinals on Sept. 15, just 11 days after he pledged. Jerry Meyer of 247Sports linked the decommitment to sneaker company affiliation and Bleacher Report followed with a lengthy story on the topic. 

    Some of the stats Jones points out in his story are eye-opening. Of the 65 ‘power-five conference programs (SEC, Big 12, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12), 45 are sponsored by Nike. Adidas has 11, while Under Armour has just eight and Russell Athletic one. Over the last five Final Fours, 15 of the 20 teams have been Nike schools.

    Additionally, Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, culminating with the Peach Jam in July, has become must-see for recruiting. According to Jones, of the 153 EYBL players in the Class of 2015 that have already given verbals, 110, or 72 percent, are heading to Nike-sponsored schools. Twenty-four are going to adidas schools, 16 to an Under Armour school and three Russell Athletic schools.

    This is not an exact science and the most-recent bit of evidence is Minnesota Timberwolves rookie and former Kansas star Andrew Wiggins. The Canadian sensation played high school ball for Nike-sponsored Huntington Prep and his AAU ball for another Nike outfit, CIA Bounce.

    Kansas, of course, is sponsored by adidas, a point not lost on Steven Reece, Blakeney’s E1T1 coach.

    “Antonio is not the No. 1 kid in the country, you know what I mean?: Reece told Jones. “You’re talking about the No. 14 kid in the country. So if they’re not going to make Andrew Wiggins go to a Nike school, why do you think they’re going to make Antonio Blakeney? Just think about that.”

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