LEXINGTON, Ky. – The father of top University of Louisville recruiting target Maverick Rowan said his son’s move from an Adidas-sponsored travel club to the Each1Teach1 team of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League this weekend has nothing to do with Rowan’s recruitment or his relationship with the Cardinals, who are outfitted by Adidas.
In addition, the E1T1 coach who cut off a reporter’s question to Rowan about U of L during an interview Friday night said the incident – which elicited considerable buzz and speculation online – was unrelated to the Cards specifically and was just a case of him following the program’s media policy of limiting recruiting questions about any specific schools.
Ron Rowan, whose family moved from Pennsylvania to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this school year, said Maverick switched from the Adidas-sponsored Ohio Basketball Club to Florida-based E1T1 primarily – and simply – because the family now resides in Florida. Club players can only play on teams from their home state or states that border their home state.
“End of story,” Ron Rowan said. “It has nothing to do with sneakers.”
Maverick Rowan, a 6-foot-6 sharpshooter ranked No. 25 in the 2016 class by ESPN.com, is a major target of the Cardinals, who have been well-positioned throughout his recruitment. Louisville staff members Mike Balado and David Padgett watched his game Saturday, and U of L would like for Rowan to reclassify from 2016 to ’15 and join the team next season.
Ron Rowan said his son’s relationship with the Cards “is exactly the same as it was five minutes ago, five hours ago, five days ago. It has absolutely nothing to do with what AAU team he’s playing on.”
What Ron Rowan said is a non-story became one after a postgame interview Friday night in which Maverick Rowan was asked a series of standard questions about his efforts to reclassify and where his recruitment stands. When a reporter asked about Rowan’s recent contact with U of L, E1T1 coach Tony Atkins interjected to say Rowan would have no comment.
The reporter asked Atkins for clarification about what exactly he wouldn’t let Rowan comment on, and the back and forth made for an awkward remainder of the interview.
Afterward, video of the interview and tweets about how it was handled by E1T1 were passed around social media, and many U of L fans speculated that E1T1, which was also the club team of former 2015 U of L commitment Antonio Blakeney, must have some sort of ax to grind with the Cardinals. Blakeney’s decommitment last fall was seemingly at the root of U of L coach Rick Pitino’s public criticism of what he believes to be an excessive level influence by shoe companies in recruiting.
Saturday afternoon, however, after E1T1’s next game, Atkins explained that E1T1 always has a coach monitor players’ media interviews and tries to protect them from having to answer repeated questions about specific schools.
He said he would have done the same thing if the questions had been about, say, Nike-sponsored North Carolina, which is also recruiting Rowan.
“What we don’t want them to do is get into specifics about certain schools,” Atkins said. “Maverick hasn’t committed to anybody. Everybody knows that Louisville is in there, and if he (reclassified), that may be where he goes or whatever the case may be, but Maverick said it several times: ‘My recruitment is wide-open. I’m open. I’m taking the process (slowly).’ Then another Louisville question came, and (the answer was) ‘I’m open. We’re going to take our time on reclassified.’ Then another Louisville question, so I said, ‘No comment on that question.’ That’s all I said. Let’s move on to the next issue.”
Atkins said that U of L is a program he respects. He said he’s glad to see Egyptian center Anas Mahmoud of Florida’s West Oaks Academy, where Atkins used to coach, playing for the Cards. Atkins added that West Oaks had been outfitted by Adidas when he was there.
“Louisville is one of my favorite teams honestly,” said Atkins, who used to be an assistant at Auburn and other colleges. “When I watch the (NCAA) Tournament, I root for Louisville. I like their style of play. I like Coach Pitino, so it’s not an Adidas or Nike thing with our kids. Yeah, we’re a Nike team, and if Nike schools recruit them great. Adidas kids have to do what’s best for them and what’s in their best interest.”
Asked whether U of L fans should wonder if Rowan playing for E1T1 would have any impact on the potential of Rowan to pick Louisville, Atkins said, “Not at all. If Maverick wants to go to Louisville, that’s where Maverick’s going. It’s always been that way, and we deal with a lot of schools that aren’t Nike schools. They recruit our kids like anybody else. … We’ve never told a kid where to go to school. Never have, never will.”
Video from The Cardinal’s Beak of Friday’s interview is below or available here.