I’ll make the same book recommendation I’ve made many times over the years if you want to have a great understanding of the scene as it existed in the 1980s, which was the heyday of the “wild west” stuff in Detroit and really in the Big Ten as well. Since the mid/late 90s, the Big Ten has been generally very clean but in the 80s you had a LOT of cowboys out there riding the range. The book “Raw Recruits” was published in 1990 and you couldn’t ask for a better picture of that time. Alexander Wolff and Armen Keteyian (who went onto a TV career with ABC) were the authors and they got to the nitty gritty. Want to get a better sense of what Syracuse is and has been today? This book covers Rob Johnson, one of the first guys to get tagged as a “bag man” due to the bags of money he’d deliver on behalf of interests connected to the Cuse program. Rich “Dr. Detroit” Daly, an assistant under Norm Stewart at Missouri, gets a lot of time as well, and you can guess why he got that nickname (that’s one distinction between that era and today…today it would be highly unlikely for a coach to be directly involved the way Daly was back then in cheating, payoffs, etc.). There’s a great sequence in that book where Jud is quoted about going down to Detroit Mackenzie when MSU was looking at Doug Smith and seeing his transcript…it was riddled with whiteout, writing in pen as opposed to typed grades, etc. The way Jud describes it in the book, that kind of thing was not unusual in Detroit during that era…a complete free for all. Good stuff as well on Landon “Sonny” Cox, the former coach at Chicago King High and a huge power broker of the era. What’s interesting is that you see almost no discussion of AAU influence, because it really didn’t exist. That book should also serve as a check on those who think solving these problems is as simple as eliminating or curbing the AAU scene…it has always been with us, it’s just that the middlemen were coaching HS teams back then.
Another amusing (in retrospect) portion of the book is when the authors talk to the next generation coming along in Detroit, most notably one Chris Webber. Lots of talk about how the new kids weren’t down with getting used, bought and sold that way and it would be different with their generation. How about that?
Anyway, I believe it’s out of print but used copies aren’t hard to find and seem to be pretty cheap on Amazon (I just looked). It’s a hell of a read and a real snapshot of what that world once was, and it gives one a grounding in what’s come along since then.