NCAA Basketball

Breaking Down UCF's Questionable Recruiting Practices

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ESPN’s Pat Forde and NY Times’ Pete Thamel have released their long awaited reports on UCF’s questionable rise on the recruiting scene. Thamel released his article on Thursday and his investigation mostly revolves around a man named Ken Caldwell, a 42 year old with a lengthy criminal record and ties to a sports agency. In short, Caldwell is a runner, or at the very least, a wannabe runner, who has been pushing kids to UCF.

This guy, while being the exact person that needs to be eliminated from anything affiliated with recruiting, is actually pretty hilarious and is the type of guy who just won’t shut his trap. He apparently calls himself “Wes without the mess”, a reference to Worldwide Wes. By the way Ken, if reporters are snooping around William Wesley, he’s sharp enough to not say anything to them. The other thing I love about Caldwell was this quote, and it came when he was asked if he were a runner. He denied it, but then dropped this gem:

“If I was, I’d be the best in the country, and you could not stop me.”

At the same time, Pat Forde was doing is own digging. Forde released two articles in regards to Central Florida. His first was also about Ken Caldwell and in reality, did not add too much more than Thamel. However, Forde added a second article about a name very familiar to UofL fans who are tuned in to the recruiting scene: Brandon Bender.

For those who do not know, Bender has been involving himself in several of Louisville’s high profile recruitments and according to many on the inside, actively trying to steer recruits away from Louisville. Bender is also known to hang around AAU events, but will not say what his role is, much less answer what his actual job is and how he makes a living.

According to Forde, multiple SEC coaches claim Bender called them to say he could deliver Enes Kanter, who we all know ended up at Kentucky, but was ruled ineligible for the season. Forde also interviewed DePaul coach Oliver Purnell who said Bender was a friend of Ken Caldwell, something Caldwell himself admits. Bender denies knowing Caldwell. It should also be noted, a couple years ago Bender told someone I know personally he would be joining the DePaul coaching staff.

That has obviously yet to happen and within Forde’s article, Bender states he just wants to get into college coaching.

Also, and this is just priceless, Forde confirms something I heard the night of Derby Festival Classic, but could not confirm. Bender was hanging around and ultimately, escorted out of the players’ hotel the night before the game. Here’s the exact quote from the article:

Bender was in Louisville last week for the Derby Festival All-Star Classic. When interviewed by ESPN, Bender denied he was kicked out of the players’ hotel at the event despite the fact that earlier that day, an reporter was with Derby Festival recruiting chairman Dan Owens when Bender called him to complain about being kicked out. During that phone conversation, Owens told Bender he had concerns about Bender’s reputed ties to an agent and said it was inappropriate for him to be in players’ rooms.

If Brandon Bender weren’t such a waste, he’d be hilarious. He still kinda is, but it’s more sad than anything else. 

These articles are well worth the time and you have to think the NCAA will be heading down to Orlando pretty soon to chat with the folks at Central Florida.

Pete Thamel: Working Perimeter of the Recruiting Game

Forde: Ken Caldwell Investigated for UCF Ties

Forde: Brandon Bender has Ties to Ken Caldwell