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January 23, 2009
by Jeff Briggs
Everyone knows by now that the head coach of the Oregon State basketball team, Craig Robinson, is brother in-law to our new president, Barack Obama. As president, Obama will obviously have a large impact on a wide range of issues, including possibly some in the sports world (see: the BCS), but what effect will he have on his brother-in-law's basketball team? Potentially a big one, specifically with recruiting.
During the campaign, election and inauguration, many professional basketball players expressed extreme admiration for Obama. Many even campaigned for him and have stated how much they want to meet the first African-American president. It's even come to the point that some players are saying it's more important than ever to win an NBA title now, just because the champions get to meet the president. It is fair to assume that several of the top high school basketball stars possess the same respect for Obama, and the same desire to meet him.
At Oregon State, Robinson has a recruiting tool no one has ever had in the history of collegiate sports, the ability to say, "If you come to my school, you will get to meet your hero and our president, Barack Obama." Over the course of a season, it is likely that Obama will visit Robinson at Oregon State, or that Robinson will take a trip to the White House, and why couldn't he bring some of his players with him?
Add on top of this that Robinson will be in the Nation’s Capital more than most west coast coaches, giving him a leg up on recruiting the DC-area talent pool. How much does that help? Well, ESPN the Magazine recently named Maryland’s Prince George's County, a suburb of Washington, DC, the top basketball county in the nation (in the past three years, the county has produced six McDonald's All-Americans). It should help a lot if Robinson can utilize that recruiting base with his presidential ties.
But what is most important for the future of Oregon State basketball is if the top high school prospects have similar desires to their NBA counterparts -- and one would assume they do, with only a two or three-year age difference between many of them. This can only enormously increase the appeal of becoming an Oregon State Beaver. If Robinson is willing to use his brother-in-law as a recruiting tool, don't be surprised to see his team rise as a basketball powerhouse. Can Oregon State find themselves in the Final Four sooner rather than later? Yes they can.