College recruits using hip-hop as lure

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Imagine being a 17-year old, highly recruited, prep star for a minute. This is not a foreign notion for many student athletes in the Pearl River County. Pearl River Central, Picayune, Poplarville and PRCC have all boasted high level recruits at one time or another. Popularity and whom the courting school associates with is a factor for young men and women looking to choose colleges.

Look at Maryland and Oregon. The founder of Under Armour, Kevin Plank, went to Maryland and the founder of Nike, Phil Knight, went to Oregon. Both prestigious alumni donate heavily to their schools and use the brand to procure recruits.

Anyone who knows the recruiting experience understands how hard it is to stay grounded and focused on what matters—getting an education while having the privilege of competing.

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Students are constantly being bombarded by letters, calls and visits, all from top tier programs such as Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky.

North Carolina is sponsored by the Jordan brand and Duke has Coach Mike Krzyzewski, but neither of them, along with the majority of other top programs can say your future team or you specifically will be mentioned on some of the most popular songs today.

Last week, recording artists Drake and Future, came out with a mixtape together called “What a Time to Be Alive” and one song on the collaboration called “Scholarships” really stood out to me with regard to college recruiting. One of the lines in the song reads “And I rock Kentucky blue.”

This is where college recruiting is permeated by hip-hop.

Drake, one of the most popular artists today and a well-known Kentucky Wildcats basketball fan, has been a fixture at UK events for some time now and has a friendship with Head Coach John Calipari. It is undeniable that these young, impressionable kids, many of whom love Drake’s music, are influenced by his affinity for the Wildcats—in the last couple years Kentucky has consistently had among the best recruiting classes.

It is well documented how invasive and strict the NCAA recruiting restrictions are, but there is little they can do about censoring the lyrics of recording artists about particular players or schools.

Calipari’s use of his friendship with Drake has certainly swayed a number of undecided recruits to “rock Kentucky blue.”

Whether or not Drake’s allure is harmful to young student-athletes still remains to be seen, but what is for certain is he is a factor.