On recruiting he can talk about, Starkey talks about ‘looking everywhere’ for talent

Four high school seniors have announced they’ve committed to sign letters of intent to play for the Kent State women’s basketball team once they graduate.

Their friends and coaches know it.

Kent State coaches and players know it.

But no one at Kent State can talk about it.

Such are NCAA rules, designed, I guess, to keep pressure off of the high school students. And players still can change their minds before signing day in November. One point guard from Pennsylvania committed to former KSU coach Danny O’Banion a year ago, then switched to Duquesne in the summer. But generally, verbal commitments stand. All four players coming to KSU have “Kent State commit” in their online profiles.

So coach Todd Starkey and his staff can’t talk about their promising 2017 class, which includes a post player, a forward and two shooting guards as reported earlier in this post. 

But in an interview last week, the coach was able to talk about how recruiting has gone, what his philosophy has been and, without naming names, what the outlook is for further commitments. 

Starkey said he still had one or two scholarships available for the 2017 class. He said he’d still like to find a point guard – but wouldn’t take one just for the sake of taking one. He and his assistants were at the last AAU tournaments of the year last weekend, looking at players for next year and beyond. One 2018 point guard tweeted about have a “great meeting” with Starkey.

The four verbal commitments are from four different states. Starkey said that for now, national recruiting was essential.

“We knew we had to do the unconventional,” he said. “We were very late getting started for the 2017 class. By the time I got here, most of the top 2017 class had already at least gotten down to their final five choices. Some were offered scholarships a year ago.

“We’ll recruit Ohio. We’ve already offered two of the best in the class of 2019 (that’s current high school sophomores), and they’re going to visit campus.

“But until we’re established again as a destination school for Ohio players, we’ve got to look everywhere we can.”

Ohio, Starkey said, is almost over-recruited.

“You’ve got five or six MAC schools here, plus Cincinnati and Xavier and places like Duquesne. And the Big Ten, of course,” he said.

Starkey’s clearly happy with the class he can’t talk about.

“Now we need an even better 2018 group,” he said. “And we’re close already.”

One of the 2018ers

A 6-2 forward from Indiana — who graduates from high school in 2018 —  tweeted on Sept. 18, “Thank you to Coach Starkey and staff for offering me a scholarship to play at Kent State .” The same day her dad tweeted a picture of him, her and Starkey with her wearing a KSU uniform. (Recruits can do that on campus, though they can’t take the uniform home.)

The young lady is an interesting story. Her name is Bree Boles. ESPN rates her a three-star recruit and 10th best in the nation at her position. She averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds a game as a sophomore.

Boles committed to Indiana while she was in eighth grade — yes, eighth grade. The Indiana coach then was former Bowling Green coach Curt Miller, who left a year later. Starkey joined the next Indiana staff as an assistant and obviously knows Boles from there.

Boles decommitted earlier this year. In an interview with an Indiana sports website, her mother said that all of the coaches who had recruited her had left and her daughter wanted to look other options.

Sounds great for Kent State, right? Four days later after her Kent visit, her dad tweeted a picture of Boles in an Evansville sweatshirt with coaches and family. Bree tweeted, “thank you to coach Ruffing and staff on a great home visit!

Boles hasn’t announced a new commitment. She may not for months.

But this gives you an idea of the recruiting trail these days. I’m not sure I’d want my daughter going through it. And I suspect the bottom line is the same as I used when I recruited journalism students for Kent State: Often making the decision is much harder than living with it.

Why do we know more about recruiting this year? The NCAA changed a rule this fall and now allows coaches to retweet or “like” a recruit’s tweet. So anytime someone puts “@toddstarkey33” or “@kentstatewbb” in a tweet, it pops up in my feed.

I’m not going to report on every tweet about KSU recruiting;  a good chunk of it would be pure clutter. I will keep fans informed of commitments and if something really interesting turns up – like a visit from the 10th best power forward in the class of 2018.




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