Social media and its impact on basketball recruiting

Kyrie Irving (@kyrieirving) has been one of the most sought after point guards in the country for several years. Recruiting has traditionally been a bit mysterious and the only way to follow along was listening to rumors, inside sources, and following reputable blogs and journalists…that is changing quickly. Over the last few years, there have been more press conferences, hat donning, and even a few fake announcements. The recruitment of @kyrieirving has been interesting to watch for two reasons: 1) he is very active on Twitter, and 2) one of the universities recruiting Irving has traditionally been extremely conservative throughout the process (Duke).

Duke has long been considered a basketball powerhouse, but as the one (two or three) and done player began to enter college basketball, things began to change.  Duke landed incredible players that left early, some rightfully so, others not. Jason Williams, Elton Brand, Luol Deng, Corey Maggette, William Avery, and Mike Dunleavy Jr. are a few of the top Duke recruits who have left early. A historic university was no longer immune to the current state of college basketball. The recruiting focus shifted towards trying to find more four year players and gradually Duke moved from a top five team to a top twenty five team. Tobacco Road is a very competitive place to reside and despite consistent success and 30 win seasons, there weren’t as many banners.

To be successful, one must adapt to change and Duke has done so (this is not implying there hasn’t been enormous success throughout). In 2008, Coach K added an Olympic Gold Medal as a coach and has a Rolodex that includes Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and other NBA stars in addition to the players who played at Duke. This direct bridge to the NBA is a great recruiting tool, but there wasn’t a ton of social media engagement. Let’s look at some of the social media used by Duke University currently and how the recruitment of @kyrieirving was a social media fun-fest.

  • – One of the most robust sports sites around. There is an integrated blog, a page about the Crazies, a history of the program, info about Coach K, info about Cameron Indoor Stadium (which was financed with money from the Rose Bowl…so Duke IS a football school), player information, a look at the culture, tons of videos, and off the court information.
  • A YouTube channel to further promote videos and give everyone a behind the scenes look.
  • This is by no means a definitive list (help contribute in the comments if you can), but you can get an inside look into Duke Basketball through Twitter:
    • Current Coaches: @coach_collins (Chris Collins) and @steve_wojo (Steve Wojciechowski)
    • Current Players:  @jonscheyer (Jon Scheyer), @slangmagic (Lance Thomas), @sdotcurry (Seth Curry), @ndotsmitty (Nolan Smith), @ryankelly34 (Ryan Kelly), and @Casey_Peters (Casey Peters)
    • Incoming Recruits: @tythornton1 (Tyler Thornton) and @kyrieirving (Kyrie Irving)
    • Former Players: @theduhon1 (Chris Duhon), @realjaywilliams (Jay Williams), @LTUmarty (Martynas Pocius), @GhJr09 (Gerald Henderson), @SheldenWilliams (Shelden Williams), @jeffcapel (Jeff Capel), @jjredick (J.J. Redick), @coach_collins (Chris Collins) and @steve_wojo (Steve Wojciechowski)
    • Affiliated Accounts: @dukebasketball (The Chronicle), @chroniclesports (The Chronicle Sports), @dukeblueplanet, @DBRtweetz (Duke Basketball Report) and @dukekville (Krzyzewskiville)

The fact that there are so many information sources allows a fan, or recruit to do their due diligence and learn even more about the program and those who attended it. Throughout the @kyrieirving recruitment, his Twitter account was stalked by fans, journalists, and other onlookers. One interesting fact was that of the 15 folks he follows, two are current Duke players, Nolan Smith and Seth Curry. Recruiters are now able to get an insight into the decision making process and the informal conversations that take place, such as Nolan Smith wishing Kyrie Irving “good luck” the morning of his announcement.

The Duke Basketball brand is as strong, and open to the public as ever. I’d be interested to hear from recruits if they use any of the tools mentioned in this article.