Since taking over as the head coach of the CSU men’s basketball team three months ago, Tim Miles has been a pretty busy man.
Not only did Miles inherit a team that finished with a losing conference record for the seventh straight year, but only three scholarship players have decided to return- literally forcing the new coach to rebuild the program almost entirely from scratch.
Soon after his hiring, Miles hit the road in search of some much-needed talent to fill the plethora of empty roster spots.
But it hasn’t been the stress of traveling or the pressure to revive an entire program that has bothered Miles the most.
“I’ve been gone from my family for so long, that’s been the hardest part,” said Miles, the man who introduced his wife and kids to the media during his initial press conference at CSU.
Miles’ search has been mostly successful with the school signing eight new athletes in the past two months. However, several of the new players are transfers from other schools and will be forced to sit out next season, leaving the team short at least one more player.
But because CSU has already used up its allotted number of official visits for incoming recruits for the year (12), the team has been left searching for alternative ways to attract incoming players.
According to the NCAA Division I manual, “An official visit to a member institution by a prospective student-athlete is a visit financed in whole or in part by the member institution.”
Without anymore official visits, the Rams are forced to have possible recruits visit the campus on their own expense, making things “very interesting,” according to Miles.
Willing to try just about anything to help the program, Miles petitioned the NCAA last week for an additional official visit.
“We weren’t optimistic about it, but we had to try,” said Matt Brewer, CSU’s new director of NCAA compliance.
Within a week, the NCAA denied the request, citing a precedent that allows a team additional visits only if a previous coach used more than 75 percent (eight) of the total visits. Former coach Dale Layer, who was fired on March 13, used only four of the visits.
Miles appealed, in part, because former Ram standout Jason Smith announced he hired an agent last week– thus cementing his place in Thursday’s NBA Draft and ending his three-year career in green and gold for good.
“J-Smooth” is projected to go in the mid to late first round. The seven-footer from Kersey will likely be the first Ram selected in the first round since Bill Green was chosen by the Boston Celtics with the sixth pick back in 1963.
As for the NCAA’s denial of his request, Miles said that it is possible, but very difficult to get a player to commit without an official visit.
The team could knowingly break the rules and pay for a recruit to visit, but the consequences would be costly, including forfeiting two visits for next year, according to Brewer.
Therefore, the Rams must find a way to sign a player without an official visit or must wait until August when the number of official visits is reset for the 2008 season.
“That’s a very long time to wait,” said Miles.
But don’t expect the team to act in desperate measures just because its back is against the wall.
“We’re not going to make the mistake and just give a scholarship to just any guy because we need to,” said Miles, who will be back on the road in July recruiting players for the 2009 season.
Meet the Newest Rams
– Stephan Franklin, Fr., 6’6”, Aurora Central High School. Coach’s take: “We are thrilled that Stephen is joining the CSU men’s basketball family. He is intelligent, versatile and competes his tail off. He is a winner.”
– Donte Poole, Fr., 6’2”, Mojave High School, North Las Vegas. Coach’s take: “Donte is a young man that really excites me. He is an excellent student, great athlete and a tremendous basketball player.”
– Willis Gardner, 6’1”, Ohlone Junior College. Fremont, Calif. Coach’s take: “He comes from a great junior college program and we look forward to the leadership and the winning mentality he brings to our program.”
– Andy Ogide, Soph. 6’8”, University of Mississippi. Coach’s take: “As a player, he has good size, good skills and is very athletic. He is also an excellent student and demonstrates great character.
– Josh Simmons, Fr., 6’5”, Westfield High School, Houston, Texas. Coach’s take: “Josh is the total package: A great person, student and player. We are thrilled to have him with us.”
– Marcus Walker, 6’1”, Indian Hills Community College, Ottumwa, Iowa. Coach’s take: “He will bring some much needed experience to our backcourt. Marcus is a player who has excellent scoring ability and leadership skills, both of which will help CSU compete well in the Mountain West Conference.”
– Dan Vandervleren, Soph. 6’10”, Purdue University. Coach’s take:
“Dan is a center who plays with great tenacity and will provide us with a physical force in the paint. However, Dan’s greatest asset is that he is a great teammate.”
– Andre McFarland, Fr., 6’6”, Brewster Academy, Las Vegas. Coach’s take: “He has great intensity and toughness. He is versatile offensive player who can beat you inside and outside. He rebounds well, he knows how to get fouled, and is highly competitive.”