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WVU hoops open to new relaxed rules

IN THE OLD days, one  used a thumb to hitch a ride. Now, college basketball coaches are using their thumbs to recruit.

Starting last Friday, men's basketball coaches were allowed to use the digits to send unlimited texts and make unlimited calls to recruits who have finished their sophomore year of high school. The NCAA also opened the door to sending private messages through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

In the past, coaches could call recruits once a month from June 15 after their sophomore years to July 31 after their junior years. Recruits, though, could call coaches whenever they wished.

Now, well, let the texts begin. And new WVU assistant basketball assistant coach Ron Everhart believes it's a move for the better.

"I was a head coach for years," Everhart said. "And in that time the transfer rate of kids has gone through the roof. Part of the reason is recruiting rules don't allow coaches to get to know kids.

"Now with this, coaches will get to know the kids. You can get to know whether they're good for your program and they can better decide whether your program is good for them."

Everhart said the 2012 transfer list is currently at an astounding 600, around two per school. Three months ago, that was at 445.

"That's a problem," Everhart said. "Also for us, it's a problem since retention and the [Academic Progress Rate] are so important."

WVU's basketball team knows all about transfers. Tommie McCune, for instance, has transferred out to Northern Illinois. Aaric Murray (La Salle) and Juwan Staten (Dayton) transferred in and are expected to be key Mountaineers next season.

"By relaxing the regulations," Everhart said, "you have a lot more familiarity."

There are concerns. Top recruits are going to get bombarded with texts, tweets and Facebook messages.

"Yes, they are," Everhart said. "But they're going to have to be strong and have a support system.

"This puts a little bit of the onus back on them. They'll have to be strong enough to say 'no' to some people and stand on their own feet. I think that's good."

The Mountaineer assistant said WVU "will do a lot" of recruiting through texts, tweets and Facebook, although opportunities are currently limited because of commitment numbers.

"We'll be able to get word out that we are in the Big 12," he said. "We'll be able to get word out that we're not one of those schools fighting to survive. We'll be able to talk about our great institution. It will allow us to expand into areas like Louisiana and Texas."

WVU will also be able to more effectively promote its new practice facility, hailed by all who check it out.

"When I first walked into that, I was blown away," Everhart said. "[Huggins] put that [facility funding] together in short order, which is an incredible feat. I might be more impressed with his ability to do that than any of his 700-plus wins. It shows you how much pride he has as a WVU graduate. He went beyond his job.

"Now we're able to show off what we have. And if recruits compare what we have to others, we'll come out on the favorable end nine times out of 10. We've got the best of the best [facilities]; it's time we get the best of the best [recruits]."

The rules for football have yet to be relaxed, but Ryan Dorchester, who steers WVU's recruiting in that sport, hopes it's coming soon.

"Will kids be bombarded? Sure," Dorchester said. "But you'll be assured everyone will play by the same rules. We've pushed for it."

Dorchester said if a coach on staff has a question, he can simply pick up the phone, rather than, say, post a message on Facebook and wait for a call or response.

So prepare, star athletes. Same old recruiting? DETI. It's changed 4eva, 4COL. I mean, w's^ Hugs?

(Translation: Same old recruiting? Don't even think it. It's changed forever, for crying out loud. I mean, what's up Hugs?)

This should help even the recruiting playing field. It will get rid of some ticky-tack NCAA violations. It might breed familiarity between coaches and players.

But there are a couple problems. Standout recruits will be inundated. And, as for Huggins, well, I have a VBG imagining him dealing with the slang.

A very big grin, indeed.

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.


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