Dear Coach Christian,
Hope all is well! How long has it been now -- years since we last talked? Let the wife and kids know I give them my best. It feels just like yesterday when I last saw you roaming Conte's sidelines, pacing the floor in front of a few dozen fans. Your priceless, frustrated expressions at the sight of your first sub-.500 season nearly brought a tear to the eye, like watching a child force a puzzle piece. Time sure does fly when you watch the NCAA Tournament on your couch, huh?
Well, here you go. Months ago you received the one thing you so desperately itched for: a clean slate. With the farewell of junior guard Olivier Hanlon to the NBA, the Boston College men's basketball program cleansed itself of the Donahue era’s final lingering echo. Now what? A chance to mold a team in your likeness: one that triumphantly introduces the Christian era here on the Heights.
In the wake of a 13-19 season that featured an abysmal 4-14 record against ACC teams, your Eagles have quite the uphill battle. Your goal starts with planting a seed of fear into the minds of powerhouse rivals such as UNC or Duke. Look around and the challenge grows loftier with each passing day. Basketball pundits selected UNC within the top-5 of their way-too-early preseason rankings before the tip-off of the 2015 season. Recently, you even watched in horror as Duke’s trio of freshman phenoms stunned Wisconsin to earn their 5th national title in early April. While Okafor and Jones set their sights on the NBA, Duke reloaded with another stellar freshman class.
What separates these teams from yours, Jim? These storied programs consistently draw the likes of McDonald’s All-Americans and 5-star recruits from every corner of the nation. Success begins and ends with recruiting, plain and simple.
Judged by your incoming freshman class, Jim, you seem to understand this quite well. In fact, news recently broke of four-star recruit, Shawntrez Davis, visiting campus in early April. Davis, standing at 6’8’’ as a power forward, provided much needed size to a depleted Eagles frontcourt. The Atlanta native received offers from a plethora of SEC schools, including Florida and Georgia. Luring this “rebounding machine” certainly serves as a major victory on the court, especially with regard to protecting the rim and snagging boards. But off the court, it represents a mammoth change in the recruiting approach, supplanting BC as a yearly competitor for talent beyond local, two or three star recruits.
Now, before you lash out defending your current recruiting class, make it clear I never said a problem exists in accumulating three-star recruits. I love these recruits. In fact, they serve as a phenomenal means of depth, providing enough potential for growth over the course of four years. Their continuous development encourages players to stay with a program for their full four years of eligibility, diminishing the risk of losing a player looking for a shoe deal in the NBA after only a year of service of college hoops (*cough, cough* Shabazz Muhammad, Austin Rivers *cough,cough*).
Matt Milon, a three-star shooting guard from Florida, signed his letter of intent in November and hopes to pick up where Olivier Hanlan left off. Meanwhile, hard commits in three-star recruits AJ Turner and Jerome Robinson reinforces the need for height at the guard and forward position. While all three of these players aim to make an early impact, they look far from NBA-ready. Now the pressure rests on you, Jim, to develop this raw talent into its full fruition.
While an exciting freshman class puts meat in the seats, upperclassmen transfers provide a powerful jolt to any team’s core. Michigan forward, Max Bielfeldt, lists BC among five other schools as a possible transfer destination. The graduate student put up adequate numbers for the Wolverines, but a new change in scenery may serve his benefit. Former Seton Hall sophomore guard, Jaren Sina, joins Bielfeldt in flirtatious transfer efforts to Chestnut Hill. Without a doubt, Jim, these potential transferees have the capacity to elevate your squad to a whole new level.
Coach Christian: from this point on, the success and demise of the program falls beneath your title.
Your shot clock begins now, no more excuses. Your reputation here on the Heights depends on the success of this 2015-2016 Eagles team—the Jim Christian team.
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