High school players look up to LeBron James and Kevin Durant. James and Durant respect Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski because he coached them during their Team USA duties. High school players, therefore, want to play for Coach K.
That's the overly-simplified criticism that Adrian Wojnarowski wrote of in his column calling for NBA players to be replaced in Olympic and international competition. He frames Coach K's place at USA Basketball as a sideshow to help his recruiting, and it came at the cost of Pacers forward Paul George breaking his leg in a meaningless scrimmage.
The column overlooked that Coach K has changed the culture of USA Basketball. And it also made the assumption that Coach K wouldn't be coaching a men's national team if it used younger players rather than NBA stars -- you know, because college athletes and first-year NBA players aren't at a greater risk than players like George, who is set for life if he never set foot on a court again.
SB Nation's Tom Ziller did a fine enough job of looping his way through all the holes in this criticism of USA Basketball, but we're still touching on this today.
Arizona coach Sean Miller, after assisting the U-18 USA Basketball squad this summer, joined an ESPN podcast with Seth Greenberg and Andy Katz to point out a few more holes in the logic about Coach K's apparent, devilish recruiting tactics.
"I guess my response would be two-fold. One would be, I go back to my own time as a player and I was fortunate enough in 1991 to be a part of the World University games and we won a gold medal in Sheffield, England. It was the most meaningful experience as a basketball player.
"In terms of the advantage, there's also some real disadvantages," Miller added. "Sometimes when you're not involved in it you don't realize what a commitment it is to be a part of USA Basketball as coach. Coach K, Jim Boeheim -- even this summer Ed Cooley, Billy Donovan, myself -- you're in Colorado Springs for 16 nights. You're in the DoubleTree hotel, you're grinding, you're practicing for hours, sometimes two times per day. If there's an advantage, it's probably more in the prestige more than anything."
Obviously, Miller says that with a bias. While he coached previously commitment Stanley Johnson this past summer with the U-18 team, Miller did make some headway with Allonzo Trier. The 2015 guard later committed to Arizona and unsurprisingly said he got to know Miller better with the national team.
The experience formed a bond with a player (is that so bad?), and though Miller's participation circumvents NCAA rules about visiting with recruits, there's probably little time for wooing. It's all basketball. Anyhow, clinging to an argument about recruiting advantages assumes that the recruiting rules make sense as is.
Miller said perhaps the biggest advantage is picking the minds of his counterparts -- and more. The Arizona coach's hours preparing for a national team run included scouting international teams he's never seen before. Learning from those other national team coaches should help the Wildcats, too.
Is a learning opportunity -- for coaches about basketball or for recruits about coaches -- an unfair advantage?
Why should a coach shy away from coaching a national team? If there is nothing to gain, why are the best coaches and players still doing it? Nobody's being forced.
If it gives a recruiting advantage or the ability for players to get to know a man who could help them improve, well, more coaches and players should be wanting to.