Thursday, November 29, 2007

Seth Davis questions Gilchrist

I've already gone on record that the way Gus Gilchrist handled his decision to spurn Virginia Tech after the campus shootings there in April was distasteful to put it politely. It would appear that his decision had as much to do with the fact that he thought he could do better than a largely irrelevant and backwater basketball program after his stature rose tremendously late in his senior year. That certainly doesn't make him a paragon of virtue but it doesn't make him an evil person either. Some felt he was using the tragedy as a pretext to get out of his commitment to Virginia Tech and more than likely he did do that to an extent. Whether his concern was genuine or not only he knows for sure. I'm not willing to give him the benefit of doubt myself but Seth Davis on is coming right out, or more accurately sheepishly insinuating, that Gilchrist was lying when he said that the shootings made him rethink his decision.

I usually enjoy Davis. His predictions are normally terrible but his coverage of college basketball is fairly good. Some of his comments in this case, however, can't go without some response. Here is what he wrote about Gilchrist:

Too many people have reported at face value that Gus Gilchrist, a power forward at Progressive Christian in Temple Hills, Md., reneged on his commitment to Virginia Tech because he felt unsafe there after the tragic shootings of last April. That logic is a little suspicious given that Gilchrist elected to go instead to the University of Maryland, which is just a few miles from where the sniper shootings of 2002 occurred. I'm not a mind reader so I can't say for 100 percent certain that Gilchrist's stated reason was false, but can we at least greet it with a healthy dose of skepticism?

If Davis wasn't from the Washington area I may let the extraneous mention of the Beltway sniper case go but he should know better than to say something so patently absurd. I'd say there is a huge difference between a rampage by a crazed student who slaughtered dozens of classmates in their dorms and classrooms and a series of shootings, only one of which occurred anywhere near the College Park campus, that had no connection to the University of Maryland in any way. Though the Beltway Sniper case certainly terrorized the Washington area, I know this all too well since I lived within walking distance of two of the murders at the time, this city has a long history of violent crime. In addition to the sniper murders this area also endured the terrorist attacks on September 11th and to some extent, perhaps regretfully, there is a certain grim acceptance of these things from most of the residents. To make a comparison between something that happened just months ago and something that occurred when Gilchrist was still in grade school has a long way to go before it becomes puerile.

Gilchrist grew up in Prince George's county and it would be natural that he wouldn't look upon going to school at Maryland as any more risky than the high school he attended. It isn't likely that a recruit who lived in south central Los Angeles would discount playing football at Southern California because it was in a bad neighborhood. Gilchrist does deserve some criticism for handling things the way he did and so I don't try and defend his motives. He is only at Maryland because Georgetown strung him along and then gave his spot to another more highly rated recruit. Perhaps Gilchrist has learned a lesson or gained some maturity from this episode, I can only hope he has learned it isn't always wise to let others speak for you even if they are adults. When the shootings were mentioned as a reason for his wavering on his commitment the discussion changed and his motives were deemed spurious until proven otherwise. Would it be just a tad uncouth to question the motives of any of the other dozens of freshmen who decided not to attend Virginia Tech after the shootings for their own reasons via a digital scarlet letter? I'll leave that up to you, dear reader.

If Davis wants to delve deeper into this then why not explore what programs were talking with Gilchrist back in April about him dumping the Hokies? I'd be pretty sure of at least two of my own guesses and Maryland wasn't one of them. Who is more culpable in using a tragedy like that to their advantage, an 18 year old getting bad advice or adult men who run high profile basketball programs? Perhaps it is also worth exploring why Seth Greenberg has had so many players leave his program in the last few years? That would at least have more integrity than a cheap shot comment that amounts to little more than sticking your finger in the wind.


homertuck said...

Thanks for calling out Davis. You should email him your blog post.

homertuck said...

Thanks for calling out Davis. you should email him your blog post on this.

Anonymous said...

Which two programs do you think contacted Gilchrist? Sounds like Georgetown might have been one of them?

Esquire said...

If I had to guess George Washington and West Virginia would also be on my list.