October 12, 2010
Of all the prominent basketball figures portrayed unflatteringly in George Dohrmann's new book "Play Their Hearts Out," none come off looking worse than new UTEP coach Tim Floyd.
Readers first encounter Floyd in the book in 2008 when the then-USC coach dangles a scholarship in front of Demetrius Walker, one of the young prospects that Dohrmann follows from age 10 until he's ready to select a college.
First Floyd isn't very forthright about whether Walker's scholarship offer was legit or not. Then Walker alleges that AAU coach Pat Barrett pushed him to go to USC in return for a payment from the school. And finally, Floyd becomes incensed when Walker opts not to sign on signing day because he feared for the future of the program in the wake of the O.J. Mayo scandal and he questioned whether USC would pull his scholarship if someone better came along.
"I don't really have time for this," Floyd said. "There are other guys out there we can recruit. I don't have time to be waiting around for you."
"Well, that's your choice," Walker said. "I don't want you to sign anyone else right now. I'd like you to wait, like, two days, just give me some time to think."
It's easy to understand Floyd's frustration that a recruit who had been committed for months would get cold feet on signing day, but there are certainly classier ways he could have handled it. According to Dohrmann, Floyd accused Walker of speaking to other schools, Walker denied it and then the phone conversation took a turn for the worse.
"I see what kind of person you are," Floyd said. "You are a liar and you are not a man of your word. [...] I thought you were a player like O.J. Mayo and DeMar DeRozan, not afraid of coming in and competing for a spot, but you'd rather be given a position instead of earning one."
"Coach, I'm not afraid of anyone."
"Yes you are. And I'll tell you this: If any NBA teams interested in you come talk to me first, I am going to tell them who the real Demetrius Walker is."
Walker ultimately signed with Arizona State, spent a year there and then transferred to New Mexico this past spring, while Floyd resigned at USC, took last year off and then landed at UTEP this offseason.
At the time some were critical of UTEP's hire. Stories like this one show why.