Pac-12 basketball has been in a bad place for awhile. Now everyone's probably wondering why they didn't get Jeremy Lin while he was in their backyard.
As has probably been recognized all week long, Lin was a Bay Area kid, a Palo Alto High sensation. Lin's senior season was a campaign for the ages, as he led his team to an incredible two year run which ended with a 64-3 overall record, culminating in an upset over powerhouse Mater Dei in the CIF Division II State title, capturing state player of the year honors.
So how didn't he end up in the Pac-12? The interest wasn't there early on enough, as this Sports Illustrated feature points out.
He sent his CV (4.2 GPA, perfect score on his SAT II Math 2C in the ninth grade) and a DVD of highlights—edited by a friend of a friend from church—to all eight Ivies, Stanford, Cal and his dream school, UCLA. Only four schools responded. Out of the Pac-10, Lin recalls, UCLA "wasn't interested," Stanford was "fake interested," and during a visit to Cal a staffer "called me 'Ron.'"
Two crucial things occurred that probably set back his recruitment.
One, Lin got injured his junior season before a CIF championship game, and it was apparently serious enough that it kept most Pac-12 schools from sending out an offer. It's not like schools didn't know what he did with Palo Alto, but generally you give out offers out by the end of the junior season after you're sure the guy you're giving an offer to will pan out at the next level.
The injury caused a lot of hesitation by Pac-12 schools to wait and see what Lin would do his senior season sent him on the road to Harvard, who offered him early and got his acceptance before other Pac-12 schools could send out offers.
So keep in mind that Lin didn't get an offer from Pac-12 schools because Lin had already made his verbal to Harvard and made it clear he was sticking to it. Of course, it's no guarantee any of these Pac-12 schools tried a full-court press later on when they saw what Lin did his senior year, so it probably breaks both ways. But the Pac-12 schools took their precautions with Lin and probably ended up going with surer things.
Two of the Pac-12 schools didn't really end up regretting their decisions. Cal landed Jerome Randle, who ended up becoming the Pac-10 Player of the Year by his senior season and led the Golden Bears to their first conference title in ages. UCLA found an under-the-radar gem in Russell Westbrook, who ended up being a critical cog of a Final Four squad. Of course, Lin might have been able to become the primary point the next couple of years, and you have to wonder how three/four years of Lin compared to two years of Westbrook might've turned out for the Sons of Westwood, but it's hard to see many Bruins fans turning down their Final Four appearance.
Stanford though? They whiffed. Adam Zagoria has more about the Stanford recruitment situation, where Lin was being coveted by the Cardinal but claimed they only had space for one more guy. Except...
By early February 2006, Stanford accepted commitments from two additional players, giving them a five-man recruiting class.
One was Landry Fields, a wing who chose Stanford over Arizona. He, of course, is now the current starting shooting guard on the Knicks.
The other was Da’Veed Dildy, a 6-5 point guard out of Chicago whom Johnson had courted heavily.
"They both commit and they both get scholarships," Diepenbrock said.
"Oh, boy did that not go over."
Diepenbrock said Lin and his mother were so turned off by what happened, that when a Stanford assistant tried calling Lin later on to get him to walk-on, he never returned the calls.
"Come on, coach, I can’t play for somebody I can’t trust," Diepenbrock recalled Lin saying.
Fields turned out alright, but Dildy averaged a grand 1.3 points per game in his four seasons on the Farm.
So Stanford, if you're mad you didn't get the hometown product, Trent Johnson is where to direct your ire. It's hard to complain about a class that included the Lopez twins and Landry Fields, but the thought that the Cardinal could have had a man in their backyard who would've loved to gone there has to sting a little.
Larry Scott will be marketing Asia these next few years, and he should have plenty of strong negotiating to do in his favor for the conference. But I'd bet he'd have loved to have been able to market Lin as a Pac-12 alumnus to make the sell easier for college basketball. Point one, Ivy League.
(Then again, with Tom Hansen emceeing during these years, there's a good chance we'd have still missed out on West Coast Lin-sanity regardless.)