Trevante Anderson left Lincoln, which prompted his former coach to call out Beach alum Jamal Crawford on Twitter. It’s the latest volley from Tacoma-area coaches who feel their players are being recruited to Seattle schools.
September was an interesting month for Jamal Crawford.
Not because the NBA’s three-time Sixth Man of the Year is settling into a new team in the Minnesota Timberwolves. Instead, it’s accusations of recruiting a star player to Crawford’s high-school alma mater, Rainier Beach.
“It’s almost silly,” Crawford said in denying any involvement in how guard Trevante Anderson ended up enrolled at Beach after leading Tacoma’s Lincoln High to the Class 3A state semifinals last season.
According to Beach coach Mike Bethea, Anderson’s father received a promotion at his job in Everett that prompted a move to south Seattle in attempt to trim his commute.
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Lincoln’s Aubrey Shelton said he doesn’t believe it’s that simple. The coach at the Tacoma school sent an email to Bethea on Sept. 5 canceling a matchup between their teams set for December due to “the transfer of our star player to your team.”
On Sept. 6, Shelton tweeted to Crawford: “@JCrossover I’m sure your heart is in the right place, but recruiting kids to your alma mater is illegal and not always in their best interest.”
“Maybe I could’ve direct-messaged him,” Shelton said Thursday. “I wanted to put it on blast and let them know I know what’s going on, because it seems they’ve been getting away with it for a long time.
“I believe (Crawford’s) heart is in the right place,” Shelton continued. “Whether he’s recruiting or not, I know he represents Seattle and Rainier Beach. He should, and I don’t fault him for that. But it’s a frustration at the idea that Tacoma kids need to go to Seattle to be successful, which is wholeheartedly false.”
Crawford didn’t respond to the tweet. The following day, former Curtis High and University of Washington star Isaiah Thomas, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, got into a heated Twitter exchange with Shelton. Thomas deleted his tweets, which accused Shelton of “crying because a kid left your program for somewhere better,” according to the Tacoma News Tribune.
Said Crawford: “Guys like Isaiah, he wears his emotions on his sleeve. As a brother, I’m happy he said something because I wasn’t going to say anything because I don’t know that guy (Shelton). Check my track record. I’m so far from it (high-school recruiting) that I wasn’t going to engage in it to give him the time of day. I told Isaiah I wasn’t going to address it because there’s nothing to address.”
Crawford said he didn’t know of Anderson until this summer when he played in Crawford’s pro-am league, in which teams are a mix of pro, college and high-school players. Anderson accepted an invitation to be part of Crawford’s inaugural Elite 30 two-day camp in August held at Rainier Beach.
Soliciting help of area coaches and Tacoma-based personal trainer Chris Hyppa, high-school players from throughout the state gathered in private sessions to learn from players such as Crawford, former NBA and UW star Nate Robinson and former UW and Gonzaga standout Nigel Williams-Goss.
“I didn’t have any conversation with Tre that I didn’t have with the other 34 kids,” Crawford said. “And it wasn’t about anything Rainier Beach-wise. We talked about how to stretch, how to watch film — stuff that I wish I would have gotten when I was their age. That was the whole purpose of the camp. Getting the best guys and letting them see what college would be like for them. Tre wasn’t singled out.”
Crawford led Beach to a 1998 state title. His No. 23 jersey was retired by the school, which also named its court after him. In Crawford’s 18-year pro career, he has mentored local players such as Brandon Roy, Thomas, Tony Wroten and Michael Porter Jr.
“Most of the kids I’ve mentored don’t even go to my school,” Crawford said. “It’s not about that. I want them to be successful long term. I feel like I represent Washington, period. And I try to help them accomplish their dream by giving them the information I know.”
Lincoln principal Patrick Erwin said he was disappointed that Anderson is a focal point because he believes the family is honest and emphasized that Anderson is a good student. The family declined to speak to The Seattle Times, but Bethea said the family expected people to be suspicious.
“It’s less about Tre and more about the intentions of these adults,” said Erwin, in his 14th year at Lincoln. “Over time, the flow of kids from Tacoma, Federal Way and other places to Seattle for basketball suggest that recruiting is occurring. Absolutely.”
Nathan Hale, which defeated Lincoln en route to the Class 3A title last season, had four in-state transfer students join with Missouri transplant Porter and his two brothers to comprise the roster that finished 29-0 and No. 1 in the nation.
Roy was a first-time coach at Hale last season. But he left Nathan Hale in May to coach Garfield, his alma mater. Hale guard MarJon Beauchamp transferred to Garfield with Beach brothers Jorrell and Joe Saterfield, the latter approved for a fifth year of high school due to a hardship case.
The Porters returned to Missouri. Hale starting point guard P.J. Fuller, who played his freshman year at Garfield, has since moved to Southern California with his mother to play his junior year at Mater Dei High School. Meanwhile, Ed Chang, a standout from Nebraska who is a UW commit, has relocated to Seattle and will play at Garfield.
Bethea, whose team lost to Garfield in the state quarterfinals, said he lost eight players that are expected play for Garfield, Franklin or Foster in Tukwila, or have moved out of state.
“When you see something happening, and it seems like nobody has ever done anything about it, it’s frustrating,” Shelton said. “In every district, kids are moving to and from. It happens. I would be interested if someone has ever done the research looking at a Beach or Garfield roster and seeing the turnover every single year and how many big-time guys they’re getting from the area or out of state. … Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association handbook has rules to ban transferring for athletic reasons. A student-athlete can move to a different school district and immediately be eligible to play, but transferring without moving requires sitting out a year. Student-athletes can transfer and become immediately eligible if they can prove a hardship, but there can be no proof of recruiting.
Shelton said he doesn’t have hard evidence that Anderson was recruited. He received information from a “reliable source” that Crawford told Anderson he’d get more scholarship offers if he played at Beach.
Anderson, a 6-foot point guard, was named the Pierce County League MVP and has offers to play at Seattle U, Portland State and Montana, according to various recruiting sites.
“To accuse Jamal is wrong,” Bethea said. “For Aubrey to get inside his feelings like he did; I don’t have time for it anymore. I tried too hard early on (as a coach) to try to justify it, but the bottom line is when you’re winning, people are always going to look for negative stuff. My door is always wide open, and you can look all you want.”