March 26, 2018 by Sam Dodge
Photo: L.A. Times
Andy Enfield added long-time AAU coach Eric Mobley to his staff last Saturday to round out his coaching staff. This move is innocuous on its surface.
Mobley replaces former assistant Tony Bland, disgraced after the FBI corruption allegations last fall. If you’re looking for a recruiter, Mobley’s 11 years in the AAU circuit and West Coast roots fit the bill.
The press is honing in on this story as a question of Andy Enfield’s ethics. You see, Mobley has two talented sons at Rancho Christian High School in Temecula, Calif. Isaiah, a 2019 power forward, is the No. 31 player in the 247 composite, while his younger brother Evan is a five-star center for the 2020 class.
The supposed ethical charge here is that Enfield is funneling money to an unqualified coach solely to secure two talented youngsters. This tired take speaks more to fake moral superiority of critics than Enfield.
First off, Mobley has legitimate qualifications. His aforementioned AAU experience connects him to numerous West Coast basketball prospects. Most notably, his Compton Magic 16-and-under squad obliterated Lavar Ball’s Big Baller team 109-57 last May. Results like that against brands such as the Ball Family’s speaks volumes to youngsters.
Nice long-term move by USC’s Andy Enfield is hiring Eric Mobley, father of Rancho Christian standouts @MobleyIsaiah and @evan_mobley7 — who are Compton Magic teammates and long-time buddies of @BigO21_ who is the best prep player in the western U.S., regardless of class. #Coup
— Frank Burlison (@FrankieBur) March 24, 2018
This hire isn’t just about his sons. Mobley has coached prospects such as Johnny Juzang of Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) and Onyeka Okongwu of California State Champion Chino Hills. Both are lengthy five-stars with local ties.
Anyone that is currently hustling in the job market understands why Mobley is a valuable commodity. One of the most important things when looking for work is your network. Who do you know? Mobley not only knows the best players, as his Compton Magic team features stars from Los Angeles, Arizona and other West Coast regions, he knows their parents.
You better be good with mama if you’re going to recruit well.
For all the faults of the NCAA system – Loyola-Chicago can make money off Sister Jean’s likeness without compensating the players, even though no one would know her without the team – they rightly allow hiring relatives of players. It’s about the only free market practice they actually observe.
It really doesn’t matter if Mobley is a competent tactician worthy of a high-level college job. Few critics, very likely not Cam Smith of USA Today, knows if he is or not. Smith asks if the hire is opening the “floodgates for ethical criticism,” and the reality is that Enfield needs to shore up his recruiting classes after absorbing hits all of last year.
After the De’Anthony Melton quagmire with the FBI, top-30 2018 forward Taeshon Cherry opted to switch commitments from USC to Arizona State – apparently Arizona’s FBI crimes didn’t resonate as much. With Chimezie Metu leaving, as well as program cornerstones in Elijah Stewart and Jordan McLaughlin, Enfield needed reinforcements.
Mobley’s role is possibly just to focus on this. Outside of potentially bringing his talented sons to Galen Center, he has the ability to make in-roads elsewhere.
He also played internationally in Portugal, Mexico and China. For future Trojans not good enough to make the NBA, his should be able to mentor them with his global experience.
This is a totally practical and responsible addition to the staff. The problem is more with the NCAA system towards player compensation.
As Deadspin’s Chris Thompson puts it in a beautifully sardonic tone: “(Mobley) recruiting his sons is of course not prohibited by the NCAA, which forbids players from extracting monetary benefits from their basketball abilities, so as to preserve their status as amateur student-athletes.”
Your opinion on the ethics of this hire really comes down to your personal opinion on how our economic system should work. If you believe a father who organized an elite AAU squad shouldn’t be paid to use his connections to recruit his sons among other prospects, you don’t believe in capitalism. He has an attribute that could make money for the university, so it’s reasonable that he should be paid for it.
If your ethical hang-up is about Isaiah and Evan getting money as well, well, that’s the dirty system NCAA basketball lives in. Is Enfield not supposed to make this move, even though it’s well within the rules?
Yell at the NCAA, not the guy operating within the boundaries set by it.
NCAA CEO Mark Emmert. Photo: Verge Campus