Thursday, March 27, 2008

Did Don Imus help create a Rutgers Basketball Dynasty?

This Sunday all Scarlet eyes will be on the Sweet Sixteen game between Rutgers and George Washington in Greensboro, North Carolina (while trying hard not to look forward to meeting UConn again in the Elite Eight and Tennessee again in the Final).

But earlier this week at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, it was the Rutgers stars of the future dominating the McDonald's All-American Game. Future Knights Nikki Speed of California and Brooklyn Pope of Texas were the co-MVPs for the winning West team. The West team had a third Scarlet Knight, Jasmine Dixon of California, and the East team also featured future Rutgers players April Sykes of Mississippi and Chelsey Lee of Florida.

Five MickeyD All Stars coming to the banks in one year! Rutgers has recruited stars from outside the New York metropolitan area in recent years (WNBA Rookie and Finals MVP Cappie Pondexter from Chicago comes immediately to mind), but they haven't previously had this ability to pick the biggest high school stars from every corner of the nation. Making it to the NCAA finals last year probably had something to do with their increased stock among the high-school elite, but I have to believe that Don Imus's racist and sexist rant, and the Knights' memorably classy response to that juvenile attack, put the Scarlet Knights firmly on the national map, and near the top of every recruits' wish list of top schools. So thanks Don (you jerk).

And aren't Nikki Speed and Brooklyn Pope two of the best names that you've ever heard?? I can't wait until they take the floor with Epiphanny Prince next year! Speed to Pope to Prince! They sound quick.


Update 3/28: Here's a Harvey Araton article that appeared in the New York Times on March 8 that talks directly about the appeal of the team to the players and their families in the aftermath of the Imus attack.

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