NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – Don’t get him wrong, Kelly Oubre doesn’t lack for confidence.
“Not at all,” said Oubre, a small forward with Houston Hoops.
It’s just that the constant barrage from college coaches telling him how great he is, how bad they need him, how awesome he’d be for their school is a bit, well, nauseating.
“It gets old fast,” he said.
Then there’s that trigger word.
The one that let’s Oubre know the games have begun.
“Priority,” said Oubre, who is ranked No. 20 in the ESPN 100 for 2014. “When a coach says you’re the priority you can probably stop believing the rest of what he’s about to say. They’re just kicking game at you. It’s like a guy trying to impress a female; he’ll tell her anything to get her.”
It’s a sentiment shared by most of the elite players here at Nike Peach Jam, who say the second the word “priority” is thrown out they’re convinced that the conversation has officially turned disingenuous.
“Come on man, you already know they’re telling the next man the same thing,” Oakland (Calif.) Soldiers wing Stanley Johnson said. “For example, not that they do this but take Duke. Say they’re recruiting a point guard and they tell him he’s a priority. Well, we all know that’s a lie because nobody’s a bigger priority than Tyus Jones. But that’s the type of stuff coaches do. It’s crazy.”
For that reason, Jones, the top point guard in the ESPN 100, knows how to take coaches’ priority pitches.
“They all say the same things for the most part,” said Jones, who runs with the Howard Pulley Panthers (Minn.). “You just have to do your homework and talk to people. You’ve just gotta be smart.”
And have an audio recorder handy.
That’s a tactic Oubre has used in the past to let another player know that both of them were getting the same “priority” spiel.
“Had to do that with one school before,” Oubre said. “When I played it for him he laughed and said it sounded familiar. It gets pretty funny. You just chalk it up as a part of the recruiting process. They all lie.”
Or do they?
Johnson said “technically” they’re telling the truth.
“Think about it; you can be a priority without being the top priority,” said Johnson, who is ranked No. 12 in the ESPN 100. “You could be the No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4 priority. So they didn’t lie; it’s just a play on words. They’re pretty slick.”
“I know I’m good, but do I think I’m so good that they don’t have a backup plan? No!” said Team Texas Elite forward Elijah Thomas, who is ranked No. 5 in the ESPN 60 for 2015. “They say some of the craziest stuff so it’s not hard for me to believe that they’ll tell me what they think I want to hear. We all compare what they say anyway among each other… I wonder if they know that.”
They do now.
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY