I finally got a chance to catch up with former Wichita Southeast point guard Adonis Gantt, who just completed his freshman season at Cowley — and he was in decidedly good spirits Monday afternoon.
So with that said, let me get this out of the way first: He wants to transfer to Hutchinson Community College.
Thought it might be a little bit of an elephant in the room. Hate that. It turns out Adonis had heard the rumors that Steve Eck, who recruited him, might be leaving Cowley for Hutch, just like the rest of us. He found out for sure when Eck held a meeting with his former players to tell them he’d taken the job for sure, leaving a bunch of very talented basketball players in Ark City, led by former City League standouts Gantt (who signed with Division I Georgia Southern in high school), Jayhawk East freshman of the year Jawanza Poland and Garrius Holloman.
“I wasn’t surprised that coach left, I’d heard it might happen,” Gantt said. “He told us he was leaving and that was the one time I talked to him. After the meeting was over I went up to him and he told me he wouldn’t be able to talk to me anymore.” And, Adonis added, they’ve had no contact since. Nothing. No texts, no third-party messages, no smoke signals, no Facebook pokes … nothing.
That’s nothing new — NJCAA rules are pretty strict on contact between coaches and players at other schools when it comes to that topic. Gantt then met with new Cowley coach Tommy DeSalme and told him he wanted to go to Hutch. The powers-that-be at Cowley have since informed Gantt that they wouldn’t grant him his release — not granting it would have forced him to sit out a year — until the end of the school year. I thought he might have a problem with this … I know his moms did (more on that later). But he seemed cool with it.
“I knew nothing, zero, about transfer rules when I decided I wanted to leave,” Adonis said. “But if they’re saying they’re going to do it at the end of the year then I believe them. That they didn’t do it right away doesn’t bother me at all. I want to go play at Hutch, I told them that straight up.”
As far as academics, any rumors of problems with grades, he says, are just that. Rumors.
“I can take care of that, of my academics,” he said. “I’m focused on my classes right now, doing what needs to be done.”
And as far as his mom, Vera, well that’s a different story. She wasn’t quite as relaxed when I talked to her last week. Her main concern? A promise to release isn’t a release. And, she wants Adonis to remain under Coach Eck’s stead, which I can understand, too. I definitely got the feeling this particular mother has a very, um, protective, outlook on her child and his future.
She was pretty fun to talk to. I like opinionated people. Like I said, she was concerned. Concerned, but polite. And pointed. Vera played for Eck back in the day when he was coaching volleyball and track at Jardine Middle School, and was her fave coach. That’s a little context for what you’re about to read.
“Coach Eck recruited Adonis out of Southeast. Coach Eck is the one who came to check on him in the dorms. Coach Eck is the one I trusted to look after my son. Not these other coaches. Nothing against them, but I don’t know if they have my son’s best interests in mind,” Vera said. “I have no issue with the new coaches, but I know how I feel and so do they. It’s frustrating. Cowley is telling me that they’re pretty sure they’re going to release him. Well I don’t want pretty sure when it comes to my son’s future. I want it in writing. They can’t make me understand where they’re coming from.”
So now you know how serious Mrs. Gantt is. Upon hearing Adonis wasn’t going to get released from Cowley right away … she went to the president of Cowley College’s office for a little sitdown. This, my friends, is what they call maternal instinct. Another point of concern — and this goes outside the realm of basketball — was Adonis’ eight-month old daughter with a Wichita woman. His obligations to her were something that had been established with Eck — meaning if something came up with the baby and Adonis had to leave Ark City to scoot back to Wichita for a day then there was an open line of dialogue between player and coach.
My take? From what I’ve seen being around teams and players Eck has coached since I was 14 has taught me one thing — dude inspires a tremendous amount of loyalty. That Gantt, who has Division I talent, falls in that category is nothing new. If Cowley lets him out, which they’ve said they’re going to do, then that’s cool. If not, it hurts Gantt but it is within their rights. Don’t think they’ll do that. From a completely basketball angle … with Darius Johnson-Odom leaving to Marquette a year early, I can’t think of a single player in the league who Eck would need more than Gantt. If Jawanza Poland makes the move, too, watch out. They’ll win the West and have a shot at Region VI. What more is there to say?
I’M OUT. -TA