For those of you who do not follow recruiting, MSU sophomore Delvon Roe was recruited heavily by Roy Williams for the class of 2008 i.e. the Davis-Zeller-Drew class. During the course of that recruitment Roe was in Chapel Hill for visits and during one those visits he supposedly gave Roy a silent verbal commitment. A "silent verbal" basically means you tell the head coach you are coming to their school but it is not announced publicly. Duke recruit Kyrie Irving is said to have given Mike Krzyzewski a silent verbal before actually announcing his commitment to the Blue Devils some weeks back. According to Roy's autobiography and details posted on Inside Carolina, Roe told Roy he would come during a visit the 2007 UNC-Duke game in Chapel Hill aka The Elbow Game. At the time, Roe was seen fully decked out in UNC gear watching the game. Six weeks later, Roe apparently changed his mind and committed to Michigan St.
Given there was a lot of history there and the Dean Dome crowd was fully aware of it cheering loudly when Roe fouled out near the end of last night's game. During the postgame press conference Roy was asked about Roe and whether he had spoken with him. Roy said he had during the many, many other times these two teams have played as well as still being friendly with Roe's parents. When pressed about the controversy further and the fact Roy mentioned it in his book, without using Roe's name, the UNC head coach got a little testy(audio).
"I didn't say Delvon lied. Go back and read it, well but I don't mind saying it, he told me he was coming. Let's be honest. He told me he was coming, he didn't come. I've looked every day at practice, and I haven’t seen him yet. But understand one thing don't make a bigger story than it is, because I love the kid and still think he's a wonderful kid."
Now, I have not seen the book so if anyone has please chime in as to what Roy actually said. Based on second hand reports Roy did say the recruit "lied" but does not name Roe specifically. However since he says the player ended up at Michigan St. everyone knows who is he talking about. Adding a little another twist to the story is the account given by Roe's father, Delvon Blanton, who said Roy pressured his son and then yelled at him over the phone when Roe called to decommit.
Anyway, Blanton said he and Roe visited North Carolina together once, then Roe went by himself on a visit for the UNC-Duke game. Blanton said Williams wanted Roe to commit before the game to get the team hyped. Roe called Blanton. Blanton strictly forbid him from committing.
"I said, 'You're not down there to commit, you're there to watch a game,'" Blanton recalled. "I don't know if he was scared to say no because Roy was pressuring him or what. I don't know exactly what happened after that. He might have committed, Roy might be telling the truth. But he wasn't ready to commit and he shouldn't have been pressured like that.
"Delvon still loved Michigan State and a few weeks later, when he was home and he could think about the decision without someone in his face, he realized that's where he wanted to go."
Roe had a hard time summoning the courage to tell Williams, Blanton said. Blanton told him he had to make the call. He did, and Blanton said Williams started yelling on the other end.
"I don't know exactly the words he was saying, but he was upset," Blanton said of Williams. "He started going off on Delvon. I mean, Delvon's an 11th-grader, he's shook up. So I grabbed the phone and said, 'Let me tell you something, you never disrespect my son like that.'"
It is entirely possible Roy yelled at Roe on the phone. Roy is an emotional guy and when he gets a commitment from a player he considers that binding. A player who commits to UNC is then considered part of the Carolina Family to the point that a condition of commitment is the recruit will not visit other schools any more and promises to conduct himself as though he is already part of the team. So faced with a player decommiting maybe Roy did get heated. That being said, I am also willing to lay odds that Roy subsequently apologized if he did do something wrong. Otherwise I doubt he would be speaking with Roe "amiably" or friendly with Roe's father at AAU events. As for the bit about Roy pressuring Roe. I have my doubts but I was not in the room at the time.
I would point out that including it in the book might have been a mistake but then again this is Roy we are talking about here. My understanding is the book is very honest. Within that context I would surmise that Roy included the bit about Roe, not out of malicious intent but because he wanted to tell the whole story about certain things. Recruiting is a nasty business and undoubtedly this sort of thing is going to happen from time to time. This appears to be an isolated incident of a misunderstanding between a player and a coach, you know, the kind of crap that happens in any number of relationships both professional and personal every minute of every day.
At the end of the day I think it worked out better for UNC. Roe has been plagued by injuries and the Heels got Ed Davis instead. Hopefully Roe will enjoy a nice career from here on out and hopefully the ACC/Big Ten folks and the NCAA will ensure both teams get a break from each other until Roe is graduated.