Diamond Stone really wanted to go to Wisconsin.
Despite not being a recruiting enthusiast I learned of the 5-star center's collegiate intentions because I happened to see a forum post on this site about his recruitment and thought holy hell there's a basketball player named Diamond Stone.
That translates to Stone Stone. Surely the reduplicating Milwaukee native grew up idolizing Badger great Duany Duany. This was meant to be; Stone was all ready to stay home and play for Bo Ryan...until he didn't couldn't meet Madison's academic entry requirements.
But in a world where the Big Ten is rapidly expanding like your waistline, the most-coveted center of 2015 is still likely to find himself on a court alongside Wisconsin jerseys in conference play this season when he suits up for...
I Am Committing To The University Of Maryland #Terps— All Eyes On Me (@Diamond_Stone33) March 28, 2015
Stone committed to Maryland right in the middle of Wisconsin's Final Four run (ouch). It's a fine school with a strong basketball tradition. The following week the kid who wanted to go to UW but couldn't get in was now openly rooting against the Badgers when they faced Duke in the title game. He's far from the first kid to begrudge a school he couldn't get into.
Those same fans who couldn't wait to see him in Madison suddenly wore different emotions.
@Diamond_Stone33 diamond what's 2+2?— Noah Price (@NoahPrice54) April 7, 2015
@Diamond_Stone33 too stupid to be a Badger— Alex Grahn (@grahndom92) April 7, 2015
There are hundreds of love notes just like the ones above carrying varying degrees of nastiness. Sports Twitter doesn't get any braver or more heroic than when it tweets insults at high school athletes - or in this especially courageous instance, 6'10" 253-lb high school athletes.
I forgot about Stone Stone until last week when Cardale Jones eviscerated the Twitter account of an intrusive stranger who gave him unsolicited advice on how and what he should be thinking about in lieu of having an opinion on race relations in America:
@DanGustafson1 Sorry Mr master, I aints allow to tweet nothing but foolsball stuff I donts want you think I more than a foots ball playa sir— Cardale Jones (@CJ12_) July 23, 2015
That stranger hastily changed his handle from @DGus1228 to @DanGustafson1 to try and avoid criticism before deleting his account entirely. Apparently Dan didn't appreciate all of the unsolicited advice of strangers either.
Meanwhile, Cardale's reply went viral. CBS, the Sun Times, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, USA Today, Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post, and the Dispatch all ran stories celebrating his tweet while ridiculing the now-extinct account. ESPN both ran a story and filmed a segment.
There was universal agreement: the stranger was out of line. He had the audacity to instruct a redshirt sophomore he did not personally know how to think and what to do - with the latter having everything to do with what he wanted ("worry about getting us fans another championship" verbatim).
Stone took abuse for choosing a college he could get into. Cardale absorbed it for publicly expressing an opinion. The media made a pretty big deal about both events - but this happens with high school athletes every single day.
Tweeting self-serving life advice, abuse and spam at amateur athletes is the HPV of Twitter. It's pervasive, an epidemic - and while definitely not the worst thing in social media - still ugly and unwanted.
Hours later while the world was still busy celebrating Cardale's justifiable homicide, Jordan Stevenson - who signed a letter of intent to play football at Wisconsin - was reportedly unable to gain academic admission to the school either.
For some Badger fans the news was like ripping off the Stone scab from April.
@Jordanstevie2 little more time in study hall less at the tattoo parlor. Football highway is littered with the next great back. Good luck— Mike Ridder (@mikeridder13) July 25, 2015
Cardale's sick burn was still being retweeted thousands of times when messages like this started appearing in Stevenson's mentions. However, not all of them were passive-aggressive.
@Jordanstevie2 just begging you to please remember badger fans still support you so just asking you to not go to a big10 school or bama.— Matt Gray (@MattGray6) July 27, 2015
It's the sadder, far less radio-friendly B-side of worry about getting us fans another championship. Okay, Matt Gray. Jordan will select a college that pleases you.
Tweeting personal requests, insults and directives at amateur athletes is a larger symptom of the plague that begins with tweeting at them while they're still in high school. In the beginning, Illinois' Adoree Jackson chose Southern Cal and God was not pleased:
Ephesians 2:8-9. Seriously, look it up. (don't look it up)
Last Spring I was chatting with Birm about recruiting and he pointed me to some Facebook posts from grown adult males to high school athletes the Buckeyes were recruiting. That conversation produced this column about why tweeting at recruits is bad, and people who do it should feel bad.
L'affair Cardale last week was a reminder that this practice is almost universally despised - when it's visible. Most of the time it's out of public eye and tucked into the player's mentions.
FANS Tweeting self-serving life advice and abuse at high school athletes is the HPV of Twitter.
If you're ever in need of a good core workout, after you read Birm's excellent Hurry-Up segment on any given night pick a recruit from his report, find that kid's Twitter handle and look at his mentions. You'll quickly see how widespread this plague is and by the time you finish cringing you'll have rock-hard abs.
Before we get too into your midsection - one final tweet from Stevenson's mentions upon failing to get into Wisconsin:
Reminder: The only TUPAC in Tennessee is this one. Don't stop cringing yet because this is nothing; it's about to get both personal and bad - and this is an infinitesimally small slice of what amateur athletes see daily in social media.
Ahmir Mitchell is a player currently being recruited by Ohio State and Michigan, among others. Below is a small sample of his Twitter mentions from the past week upon attending OSU's Friday Night Lights camp:
@TheDeuce_2_Nice Getting love from Ohio State rn, but we all know they're as fake as Drakes lyrics.— John Peters (@John_Peterz) July 26, 2015
Yes, the photoshopped Buckeye in the background of this imaginary play appears to be dazzled. Speaking of imaginary...
Look, it's an Ohio State uniform that doesn't exist alongside a nice plug for Southern California's NFL pipeline, all captured in a single tweet that embodies the mindset of 100% of fans who tweet college advice at high school kids: I believe I'm helping.
Friends, that is a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, an Italian sports car that retails at $181,900; roughly the same price tag as repairing Cecil Newton's dilapidated church. It is obviously parked on
the banks of the Olentangy River in Miami. Not the Ohio Miami; the Miami Miami. Granted, there are 25-30 Lambos parked at the Woody on any given practice day - but this isn't one of them.
The recipient of that tweet is current Florida State commit Levonta Taylor. The recipient of this one is Tennessee commit Justin Guarantano.
You may be asking yourself why Tupac Shakur isn't sitting shotgun in the Lambo tweeted at Guarantano, and it's because
he's dead he's a Tennessee fan. We've now come full circle.
When Laostar7 isn't selflessly helping college kids make 40-year decisions by using his Google image searching skills he's providing Ohio State free consulting services for its football business:
@EddieGeorge2727 please talk to that boy mike weber everything will be alright ...,,— Laostar7 (@phonsavanh13) February 7, 2015
@EzekielElliott bro follow me and can you please console your boy mike weber...everything will be fine under coach meyer— Laostar7 (@phonsavanh13) February 6, 2015
@quick_tg6 talk to mike weber i know rb coach gone but everything will be ok were a family...— Laostar7 (@phonsavanh13) February 6, 2015
@OSUCoachMeyer coach please hire eddie as RB coach please...— Laostar7 (@phonsavanh13) February 6, 2015
Don't get too upset with Laostar7. There are hundreds of Laostar7s. Rather than taking a flamethrower to Ohio State's many intrusive sports enthusiasts I chose to showcase only one. Every fan base has a sparkling collection of Laostar7s. The numbers of members enlisted in these brave militias vary by school.
Many of them tell Diamond Stone he's dumb from a safe distance; others mock Jordan Stevenson's tattoos while the chosen few make national news at Cardale Jones' behest. Most of them try to get high school kids to make college choices that make them happy.
And all of them should feel bad about it, but they don't - and you cannot stop them. You can only stop yourself.