Izzo: 'You're Rip Van Winkle' If You're Surprised By Basketball's Latest Recruiting Scandal

Kanas has strongly denied the NCAA's allegations. 

Will Burchfield
May 08, 2020 - 5:45 pm
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Kansas is the latest program to be ensnared by the FBI's investigation into college basketball, with the NCAA accusing Bill Self and the Jayhawks of paying recruits through a partnership with reps from Adidas. 

Some observers might be surprised. Most, including Tom Izzo, are not. 

"If you have been in this (for a long time), and you say yesterday we found out something, I think you’re Rip Van Winkle," Izzo told the Jamie and Stoney Show. "You must have been sleeping through a lot of eras, because we didn’t find out anything yesterday that was different three years ago, 10 years ago or 20 years ago."

Fact is, illegal recruiting has plagued college basketball longer than Izzo's been a coach. You can look the other way if you please, but it doesn't obscure the truth. 

"You don’t want to believe what you don’t want to believe," Izzo said. "I’m not saying anything about Kansas or any other school. That’s not (my place). But as far as the act in general that’s gone on … let’s get to the reality of things. What more do you need? Let me see, somebody came up to you with a bag of money? What do you need to figure out what’s going on?"

That being said, Izzo won't pin certain recruiting losses -- to Kansas or other schools -- on an uneven playing field. 

"It’s not good when we’re making excuses for not getting a kid," he said. "That I don’t like. There’s a reality to it, but sometimes we lose kids, sometimes there’s better places, sometimes people do a better job than we do. So that’s number one."

Kansas has strongly denied the NCAA's allegations, claiming that Self and those on his staff were unaware that any impermissible payments occurred between Adidas and Jayhawks players. 

"The allegations brought against our men's basketball program are simply baseless and littered with false representations," the school said in a statement Thursday. 

Izzo also discussed the pending decisions of junior Xavier Tillman and sophomore Aaron Henry, both of whom are considering leaving school for the NBA. 

"I don’t know on either one. I know this, (Tillman) will not make a bad decision," he said. "We’ll be sitting down."

As far as Izzo's concerned, too many players these days make the jump before they're ready. 

"As we know, there are some incredibly good things about the NBA, but there's incredibly tough things. The bottom line is, are you ready to go there and stay a while? The cup-of-coffee thing that I think we’re running into with most of these kids is a shame, because they’re not ready. ... 

"I talked to one of my former managers who’s been an assistant GM (in the NBA), he told me last year they did 167 interviews. Just think about that. We’ve got 200 underclassmen, and there’s only 60 spots. And of those 60, probably 40 make it. And of those 40, 10 or 15 are going to be European kids. So we have lost perspective on all this completely."

Izzo reiterated that he's "not against" players leaving school early, as long as they're prepared for the pros. 

"And yet, I think we’re talking a lot about what their rights are, instead of talking about what’s going to hurt them. There’s a lot of guys coming out being lied to, just look at the numbers. And that is difficult for me to feel good about," he said.