Much heralded going into college as a top 25 recruit, Rodrick Stewart failed to put up impressive numbers during his freshman season at USC last year. It now appears that this young man is coming to Kansas, ostensibly to play basketball for the Kansas Jayhawks under Bill Self.
The decision to play at Kansas was made late Wednesday night after Stewart's flight to Seattle, where he is spending this weekend with his family. He discussed the situation with his father, Bull, after also discussing the matter with the KU staff Wednesday morning before leaving Lawrence. "All I can say is I'm committing," Stewart said. "I don't want to go anywhere else. I think that's the place for me."
Yet there was no official word from Kansas.
We can safely assume that young Stewart was given some sort of guarantee for a scholarship, but I would be surprised if that guarantee didn't have strings attached to it. You see, Rodrick Stewart is not balling for USC right now because he's academically ineligible this semester. Since he has taken the semester off, he will be eligible to play for KU, assuming he does get a scholarship, in the second semester of next year, or rather in January of next year. Next semester, he's paying his own way though.
Having nightmares about Lester Earl?
To some Phog Blog readers, Stewart might seem like another troubled transfer. Do we really want another lauded recruit like Earl or Axtell gumming up the works? Playing, not playing, injuring a knee, injuring a back, injuring the back of his knee? After all, his stats at USC weren't exactly spectacular, and USC wasn't even that good last year.
My answer to these questions begins with my implicit trust of the Self administration at KU. Thus far, in just 19 months or so, Self has pulled two excellent last minute recruits, a hobbled elite-eight team, and the number one recruiting class out of his magical hat, and I suspect that there is more in there we haven't seen yet.
Perhaps Stewart won't be as troublesome as Earl and / or Axtell. Unlike Axtell, who had to appeal to the conference or Earl, who took out a storied LSU coach, Stewart has a clean bill of release from USC - he's already in position to transfer without appeal. Of his academic troubles, we'll know only what is released, but Stewart seems to be taking responsibility for whatever happened:
"Things were shaky last semester (academically), but I've got things together this semester,"
Furthermore, he needs to have his academic house in order if he is to successfully transfer to KU.
One can never really escape injuries, but Rodrick Stewart hasn't been plagued by any chronic injuries thus far. His injury risk is probably the same as any other recruits, transfer or otherwise.
Regarding his stats, they weren't that good: 4.4 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists One can be pleased with the ratio of rebounds and assists to points, but for a highly touted recruit such as Smith, playing for a mediocre Pac-10 team, it's natural to expect more. If you're having a bit of a tryptophan hangover this morning, do remember that Rodrick is an incredible athlete who, in theory will be an excellent college player, especially if he keeps his head screwed on.
He'll have to behave and do well in school if he's going to play, and he'll have to do so for the next 13 months, all while not playing. That, combined with the fact that he seems to have learned from whatever mishaps he had while at USC, is enough to make me feel pretty comfortable with him as an acquisition.
So Jayhawk fans, stop your worrying. Enjoy the holiday and celebrate another addition to the Jayhawk family. And, if after reading this quote, you don't like this kid more, you need to eat more turkey:
"It was just like a different experience being at Kansas," Rodrick said. "People there worship basketball."