GOAZCATS - Fathers mistakes lead to disappointed kids
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Fathers mistakes lead to disappointed kids

Davis Nwankwo has spent the last two months trying to convince his father that Arizona is the right place for him. He shouldn't feel alone. Three other big time prospects dealt with controlling fathers that had better plans for their sons than to play for the Wildcats.
Three different fathers, three different scenarios, but with one result in common: the kid should have listened to his heart, and not the father. Rick Rickert, Ruben Douglas and Carlos Hurt all dreamed of being Wildcats. Their fathers did not, and it cost these kids their dream.
Everyone has heard the story of Rick Rickert, or at least parts of it. The kid wanted to be a Wildcat, his father didn't want him to, and his father eventually got his way. But there is much more to the story than that.
Until the summer before his junior season, the Rickerts were all but Wildcats. They made it clear that Arizona was going to be the place for Rick to go to school before he left to the NBA. They went on an unofficial visit his junior year and everyone knew where Rick and Lew Rickert's hearts were. The problem was that shortly after his visit, things changed.
Lew Rickert started to field phone calls from Minnesota boosters, alumni, ex-players, ex-coaches, fans and anyone who had interest in his son's recruitment. Columnists promised Lew that they would give Rick enough hype to turn him into an All-American by his sophomore year. They told Lew that Minnesota was the place for his son, and that Dan Monson, Minnesota's coach, would turn Rick into a lottery pick. At the same time, Lew was told that Rick Rickert would be the corner stone of Minnesota basketball, which was "the next Big Ten powerhouse."
Lew Rickert believed every word of it. He started to push his son towards Minnesota, but Rick wanted none of it; his dream was to be a Wildcat, and that's where he was going to go. Rick wouldn't let his father get in the way of his dream.
The tension in the Rickert household began to build. By the time they got to Arizona on Rick's official visit, both Rick and Lew were boiling. On the visit, Lew stayed in his hotel room the whole time. He didn't want to talk to the coaches and he didn't want to be with his son and wife. He wanted nothing to do with the basketball program and the University. Finally, when he emerged from his hotel room, he blew up.
Rick Rickert and his mother were outside of the basketball offices waiting to meet the coaches to talk about a team dinner at Lute's house that they were planning on attending, like all recruits do on their visits. Lew approached his son and told him he wasn't going to dinner with the team. Rick had no idea why and questioned his father.
In the middle of the entrance way to McKale Center, Lew started screaming at the top of his lungs, right in front of the basketball office. Rick screamed back, and those in attendance thought they would come to blows. They didn't, and Rick eventually let it go and just went home with his father. The whole way back, Rick didn't say a word to his father. The tension was at an all time high.
Soon after, Rick Rickert made a verbal commitment to the University of Arizona. It made no difference; Lew wouldn't sign the Letter of Intent papers. Rick begged his father to sign, but Lew wouldn't change his mind.
Eventually, Rick and Lew came to an agreement. He would go to Minnesota for a semester. If he wasn't happy, he would transfer to Arizona. Rick soon de-committed from Arizona and signed with Minnesota. As he signed the Letter of Intent, Rick Rickert wore a University of Arizona hat. In his heart, he knew he'd eventually play for his dream school.
The first week of school, Rick Rickert flew to the University of Arizona campus to hang out with his good friend Dennis Latimore. While watching Latimore and the players participate in a pickup game, Rick sat there alone in the bleachers. Rick Rickert was crying, wishing his dad hadn't forced him to Minnesota.
After one semester at Minnesota, Rick still wasn't happy. Rumors were rampant throughout the Minnesota program that he wanted to transfer to Arizona. However, it was known that Arizona didn't have any scholarships left to give so Rickert was out of options.
The rest is history. Rickert underachieved for two seasons at Minnesota, his dad pulled him from the school and entered him into the draft. Now Rickert is across seas and has openly admitted that the worst mistake he has ever made was listening to his father.
Rick Rickert wanted to be a Wildcat. He knew Lute Olson would develop him into the best possible player he could be, and would eventually get him into the NBA. Instead, he had a father who wanted to make the most important decisions in his son's life for him. Lew Rickert ruined his son's dream and career in basketball. Rick Rickert is now playing professionally in Slovenia.
Ruben and Rogelio Douglas
Ruben Douglas loved being a Wildcat. He loved the school, the coaches and his teammates. After an impressive freshman season, in which he averaged 8.0 points per game, Douglas stayed in Tucson over the summer to take classes and work on his game.
In the beginning of the 1998-99 season, Ruben Douglas and teammate Richard Jefferson were suspended for an exhibition game against Marathon Oil for cutting class. Weeks later, both players were sent home from Las Vegas because they again broke team rules the night before a game against Iowa State.
While Jefferson's parents were accepting of the penalty, and realized that their son was being immature, Ruben Douglas' father, his primary parent, blamed the coaches.
"It seemed like it might have been harsh, but it's the coaches' call," Ruben's father, Rogelio Douglas, said at the time.
A great personality, Douglas was often a host for recruits that came into school. When Gilbert Arenas visited the University, Douglas was his host. He played pickup with him and showed him around the school, as the hosts usually do with recruits.
When Arenas went back home, Douglas told the coaching staff how good the prospect was. It made no difference if they played the same position; he was a team player and wanted to be surrounded with the best teammates possible. Soon after, Arenas committed to Arizona.
Arenas stepped onto campus the next season and instantly became the most talented player on the team. It wasn't too many practices into the season before it was clear to everyone around the program that Arenas was the new starting shooting guard. Douglas was understanding of this, but his father wasn't.
Rogelio Douglas complained to the coaching staff. He told them that his son was too talented to sit the bench. His argument was that Ruben had worked hard his whole life and that being the older player, his son deserved to start. It was explained to Rogelio that there is nothing wrong with his son coming off the bench, much like Jason Terry had done only two years earlier.
Mr. Douglas refused to accept his son's new role, and forced him to quit the team before an exhibition game. Realizing his mistake, Ruben asked Lute Olson to reinstate him, and surprisingly, Olson did. Most around the program knew that it was the father who forced his son to quit, so no one was upset at Ruben.
After Ruben was reinstated, Rogelio became furious and pulled Ruben off of the team and out of school. Ruben Douglas' career as a Wildcat was over.
Again, we all know the rest of the story with Douglas. He transferred to New Mexico, where he could become the star, which is what his father wanted all along. He definitely became the star, but his skills never improved like they would have under Lute Olson's coaching and teaching. A once-promising basketball star with great potential, Ruben Douglas went undrafted in last year's NBA Draft. He is now playing professionally in Greece.
Carlos and Jeff Hurt
A top 15 prospect in the 2001 class, Carlos Hurt was considered a top two point guard in America. Among those he was rated ahead of, regardless of position, were Aaron Miles, T.J. Ford, Josh Childress, Wayne Simien, James White, Jamal Sampson, Dijon Thompson, Daniel Ewing, Ben Gordon, Will Bynum, Emeka Okafor, Channing Frye and Keith Langford. Hurt was a sure-fire stud; a can't-miss prospect.
Being from Houston, Hurt had ties to Arizona because of Josh Pastner, and the Wildcats were recruiting him early. It was well known in Houston that Hurt wanted to play for Arizona.
When he took his official visit to the University, Hurt's parents came with him. Much like Lew Rickert would do months later, Carlos Hurt's father, Jeff, did not participate in the visit. He remained in his hotel room while, unbeknownst to him, his son verbally committed to Arizona.
The Hurt family returned from their visit, and Jeff Hurt wouldn't allow his son to keep his commitment to the Wildcats. The father wanted to move his family to Louisville, and he felt that he had better employment opportunities there than he did in Tucson.
Carlos was set on being a Wildcat, but that wasn't an option to his father. In fact, while Carlos had told the Arizona coaching staff that he would play for the University of Arizona, Jeff Hurt promised head coach Denny Crum and the University of Louisville that his son would end up at their school. He did this without Carlos's permission, and he never opened up to the idea.
Jeff Hurt moved the family to Louisville, and shortly after, Denny Crum resigned as the coach of the Cardinals, and Rick Pitino was hired as his replacement. Regardless, Carlos Hurt never was happy playing for Louisville, and midway through his freshman season, Pitino dismissed Hurt from the team.
The real reason why Rick Pitino kicked Carlos Hurt off of Louisville was never released. Perhaps that is in the best interest of everyone.
Carlos Hurt transferred to Wabash Valley (Ind.) Junior College the next season. Ironically, he then transferred from WVJC to Louisiana-Lafayette, where ex-Arizona assistant Jessie Evans is the head coach. Carlos Hurt never made it to campus, and as of now, it is believed that the once amazing prospect is now completely out of college basketball altogether.
To be fair, the University of Arizona basketball program has been surrounded by great kids and parents for years. Out of the hundreds of players Lute Olson has recruited, very few parents were half as difficult as Lew Rickert, Rogelio Douglas and Jeff Hurt. Also, most parents are positive influences on their kids. Unfortunately, in each of these three cases, the parents cost their kid the opportunity of a lifetime: The chance to play for a legend and play in the NBA.
It is also important to note that while Rick Rickert, Ruben Douglas and Carlos Hurt were negatively impacted by their parents' unwillingness to allow them to make life-affecting decisions, there were always those who benefited from the fact that those three players never arrived on campus.
If Rick Rickert played for Arizona, Channing Frye would have redshirted. Instead, he stepped right in as a freshman and is now one of the best big men to ever wear an Arizona jersey.
If Ruben Douglas would have remained at Arizona, Gilbert Arenas would never have received the playing time to develop into one of the most talented Wildcats ever after only two seasons.
If Carlos Hurt ever put on an Arizona jersey, Salim Stoudamire likely would not get the playing time he received as a freshman, and would not have developed into one of the best players in the country so soon.
Davis Nwankwo will probably never play for the Arizona Wildcats, but it makes no difference. Someone will play the minutes that Nwankwo would have played and become a better player because of it. That player is most likely Mohamed Tangara.
Davis Nwankwo wants to be a Wildcat. Just like Rick Rickert, Ruben Douglas and Carlos Hurt did. For that, all one can do is wish this kid luck in whatever he does in his basketball career and in life. Because if Nwankwo's parents' decision-making is anything like that of Lew Rickert, Rogelio Douglas and Jeff Hurt, Davis Nwankwo will need all of the luck in the world.