Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Forward to Pickens!

"Clemson's prized recruit may be ruled ineligible" by Larry Williams, Post and Courier, June 6, 2006, Sports

What do these cities have in common: Baltimore, Maryland; Durham, North Carolina; Binghamton, New York, Augusta, Georgia; and Queens, New York?

Give up?

. . . All of them were represented on the 2005-2006 varsity basketball roster of an 85-student, 1st-through-12th grade "Upstate private school" (that would be in Pickens) also attended by LaRon Dendy, Clemson's prize commitment to its basketball program.

I confess I do not always read the Sports section thoroughly. However, since one of my former students rejected a hefty sum from the Major Leagues to play on USC's baseball team this year, I do peruse the headlines every day, usually pleased by what seems to be the higher quality of writing in that section. After one of my former Texas students, whose SATs and grade-point average were so low that she was red-shirted as a basketball player at A&M-Kingsville, made a 4.0 her freshman year of college (smile), I HAVE paid attention to NCAA academic eligibility issues.

So, the headline caught my attention. As I read, the article became more and more fascinating. "Recent investigative reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times" had not entered my radar screen previously, that "the NCAA is scrutinizing secondary schools with questionable academic rigor." And Prince Avenue Prep, run by a former attendee (NOTE: not graduate) of Bishop England High School, right here in Charleston, is one of them.

Let me be clear about my intentions. I wish LaRon Dendy the best of basketball careers at Clemson, injury-free. May he be the next Michael Jordan! My questions surround the mysterious details of Prince Avenue Prep, Clemson recruiting, and IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Those were not so clear.

  1. How old is LaRon Dendy? What grade did he just complete? Probably the reporter assumed that anyone reading the article would be familiar with the Dendy-Clemson story, but as a teacher, I can say, "Never assume." After considerable sleuthing on the Internet, I deduced that Dendy completed his junior year in May and has committed to Clemson in 2007. What I was unable to find out is how old he is; my original suspicion that he was over-age, given the three schools mentioned that he has attended, probably is unfounded, but I can't be sure.
  2. Why did Dendy leave Greer High School? Where is he from? On the Internet Dendy is variously identified as being from Greer, Greenville, and Taylors, South Carolina. It turns out, as those from the Greenville area undoubtedly already know, these are all in Greenville County and the Greenville County School District. Further investigation reveals yet another mystery.
  3. If Dendy is from Taylors, as he is currently identified on the Prince Avenue Prep website, why did he attend Greer High School at all? Eastside High School, also part of the GCSD, is IN Taylors! Why wasn't Dendy leading Eastside to a state championship? Surely Greer High School doesn't recruit players from other attendance zones! (What a thought!)
  4. A new question arises: where did Dendy attend high school as a freshman?
  5. Let's be generous and assume that Dendy USED to live within the Greer High School attendance zone. When and why he left Greer High School, enrolled at Prince Avenue Prep, left and traveled down to Bradenton, Florida, and bounced back to Pickens, South Carolina are still open questions, with murky answers at best.
  6. When did he leave Greer High School? The reporter states that Dendy attended Prince Avenue Prep in 2004-05 AND 2005-06. Problem is, the former is the same year that he led Greer High School to its state championship. Then the reporter states that "Dendy led Greer to the Class AAA state title in 2004 before transferring to Prince Avenue. He transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., after the 2005 season but re-enrolled at Prince Avenue after just a few months." Clear as mud! Would "2004" be the 2003-04 season or 2004-05? Would "2005" be the 2004-05 season or 2005-06? Well, at least we can assume those are two DIFFERENT seasons! Assuming the latter in each case, he must have left Greer High School almost immediately after it won the state championship. WHY???
  7. What basketball team did Dendy play for during the 2005-06 season? This is where it gets interesting. Reports available on the web show that he played on IMG Academy's "Blue" team during the first semester of the season; then he returned to Pickens in mid-January to play on the Prince Academy team. Even at this date the Clemson website shows him to be still in Bradenton. Now, we seem to have established beyond a reasonable doubt that he finished his sophomore year at Prince Street Academy in order to bring up his grades, transferred to IMG to get more advanced basketball experience, then transferred back to Prince to . . . bring up his grades? Hmm.
  8. When did Dendy give Clemson a verbal commitment? That appears to be around the time that he transferred to Prince.
  9. How much is tuition at IMG Academy? Would you believe $15,000 per year? $25,000 per year? How about nearly $34,000? That's right. Gosh, the Dendy family must be really wealthy.
  10. To come full circle, WHY might "Clemson's prized recruit ... be ruled ineligible"? That's because Prince Avenue Prep is being investigated as a "so-called diploma mill." As it turns out, on Tuesday, June 6, the NCAA reported the first 15 schools now no longer approved, and Prince Avenue Prep is not on the list--YET. Another longer list is expected by July 1.

Meanwhile, Dendy is "hoping to attend Hargrave Military Academy as a senior in 2006-07."

Why not stay at Prince?

Go back to IMG Academy?

Will he find himself back in Pickens in January of 2007 as he did last January?

Stay tuned.

Purely for conspiracy theorists: What if the Clemson scout said to the Greer High School star, "We're going to help you get through high school academically and prepare for the next level of competition athletically if you commit to us now." Would the record look any different?


L. Reynolds said...

Being familiar with the Greer and Taylors area, I can tell you that there are households in Taylors zoned to attend Greer High School. I've met a student in such a household who is not an athlete, so wouldn't have been "recruited." This is not to say, though, that that didn't happen in Dendy's case. Just wanted to pass that info along.

Anonymous said...

He's at Indian Hills CC this year

M.Lyday said...

I have known Coach Knight for 16 years and i played at pickens christian Academy my junior and senor year ! The School is now KNown as Prince Avenue Prep .. The School has had success in Basketball and Football since It open as Pickens Christian maybe he felt he Could better his Basketball Skills under Knight ! Even When Mark Knight was in his late 20's he was 1 of the best in the state! ...So Stop Digging!

wardogs said...

I have the scoop on LaRon, as I was an Assistant Coach for him for a yr and a half. What ya need to know!

David said...

Laron went to Greer Middle school from at least 8th grade up because I was in school with him. I'm not sure about before that, but it seems like he went there earlier, I can check my yearbooks.

Anonymous said...

He was kicked out of PA.