Around this time of the season, some high school seniors heading to play college basketball begin to see the coaching staffs that tirelessly recruited them and earned their commitments being fired from their programs.
From uncertainty to nervousness, players experience a gamut of emotions as they go from entering a situation where they know where they fit to one that presents a lot of questions.
Does the new coach want me?
Will I be playing the same position as I was told before?
Will I get along with the next head coach?
These are all questions Concordia Lutheran senior D.J. McCall faces after IUPUI fired Coach Todd Howard soon after losing to IPFW in the Summit League Tournament last Saturday.
Howard went 26-70 in three seasons with the Jaguars, including 6-26 this season.
“I was very emotional about it,” said McCall about finding out Howard would not be retained. “It is just tough to build a relationship with someone like that and be so excited to play for them and they have to get the boot like that.
“I guess that's how the business works.”
Howard phoned McCall late Sunday night to inform him of IUPUI's decision personally.
“It was very respectful (to hear from Howard) before I heard it from the public,” McCall said.
McCall, who averaged 18.5 points and 9.0 rebounds for the Cadets this season, has been in contact with assistant coach David Padgett, who shared with the 6-foot-5 that he also experienced a similar situation. As a high school senior committed to Kansas, Padgett watched as Roy Williams left the Jayhawks to take the head job at North Carolina.
Despite the support of Padgett, McCall still has a head filled with questions and concerns about where he will fit in with the new coach, if at all.
“The main thing right now is if they get a guy who has seen me play and likes my game (or) at least knows about me, that'd be great,” McCall said. “I don't really know what to expect (out of the new coach) and am anxious to find out about him.”
McCall has been told that the hiring process for a new coach will likely not drag out more than a month. He is hopeful that Padgett will be retained by the new head coach as an assistant.
McCall also has the option to earn a release from his signed Letter of Intent due to an NCAA rule stipulating that incoming recruits have the opportunity to do so due to a coaching change.
McCall hopes it does not come to that.
“I love the school and I guess I didn't realize how close I was to the coaching staff,” McCall said. “If it doesn't work out the way I want it to, I will look into getting a release form.”
McCall is part of a three-man recruiting class for IUPUI that also includes forward Aaron Brennan of Guerin Catholic and JUCO point guard Cortez Macklin out of Louisville, Ky.