Column: The Myth of the College Package Deal; Poll: Which Package is Most Likely to Occur?

Everywhere you traveled on the summer basketball circuit — from the Peach Jam to Las Vegas to Atlantic City — the word “package” was being thrown around almost as much as the phrases “hotel bar,” “rental car” and “I haven’t seen my family in two weeks.”

Seems like everywhere you went, some recruits were talking about packaging with others.

Some dynamic duos were bandied about and quickly fell by the wayside.

(See the Poll below and cast your vote now.)

There was some Rashad Vaughn-Josh Perkins talk, but unless Vaughn somehow ends up at Gonzaga, that isn’t happening.

There were suggestions that Isaiah Whitehead and JaQuon Newton might end up ballin’ together in college, but again, unless Whitehead lands at Miami, that’s also out of the picture.

Myles Turner and Emmanuel Mudiay also floated the possibility before Mudiay committed to SMU. Turner had cut Larry Brown’s club from his list before then but could always add them back to play with his Texas friend.

Stanley Johnson and Justise Winslow talked up the package idea at the Elite 24 in Brooklyn — floating Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Florida and USC as intriguing options for two of the best wings in the Class of 2014.

“The best one-two punch in the country,” Johnson said when asked how good they would be.

Of course, Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor have been the most definitive about their plans to play college ball together — going so far as to set up three official visits together.

“I think it will be good for us,” Jones told SNY.tv recently at the Elite 24 in Brooklyn. “I think it just sends a note that we’re serious about it, we’re not just all talk, and it’ll be a good time.”

Since both guys have said all along that they plan to play together, the widespread perception is that they will end up doing so.

Most everybody thinks it’ll be Duke, but we’ll see how it plays out.

Remember that coaches like Duke’s Coach K, Kentucky’s John Calipari, Kansas’ Bill Self and Baylor’s Scott Drew were literally watching both players at once at the Peach Jam — as I wrote in this story.

Jones and Okafor just took a visit together to Baylor and will also trip together to Kansas and Duke. Kentucky and Ohio State also remain alive for both, while each has other schools that don’t involve the other.
Meantime, New Englanders Jared Terrell and Abdul Malik Abu have been saying for a while now that they would want to package together if it was the right fit.

“We conversate about it,” Terrell told me in July in AC. “We just want to go where we fit the best and the best situation for us. But we don’t want to force it and maybe the situation is best for him and not for me and vice versa.

“We just want to go where we are going to have our shine and where it’s going to be the best for one another.”

Now, before we find out about Jones and Okafor, before we learn where Vaughn, Whitehead and Turner will all be taking their talents, we’ll learn the fates of Abu and Terrell on Saturday.

At one stage, the perception was that both players would probably land at Providence or UConn.

Both New England schools put in a ton of work on these guys, watching most or all of their games for the better part of two years.

But when the players cut their lists to four, only Providence made both trims.

There was some talk about a “Friar Five” of Abu, Terrell, Kaleb Joseph, Jalen Lindsey and Paschal Chukwu.

Providence — which has done a terrific job in recruiting already — got two of those guys in Lindsey and Chukwu, while Joseph pledged for Syracuse.

Now it’s three days before the announcement and multiple sources told SNY.tv this thing is highly fluid and unpredictable.

There were reports that Abu was on the Florida campus on Tuesday, even after he was supposedly done with his visits.

Florida and N.C. State remain highly viable for the 6-8 Abu, who has all the makings of a big-time college forward who could succeed in the SEC or ACC.

Some have considered N.C. State the frontrunner for a while now, but you can’t discount Florida getting the last visit if that’s what happens.

And UConn is still in the mix, having made up ground on its last visit with Abu.

Terrell, meantime, is currently on his official to Rhody, which will need a scorer to replace Xavier Munford and can offer a big role immediately.

Yet Oklahoma State and Providence remain options for him.

The wild card will be if Providence coach Ed Cooley and his staff can pull off an 11th hour visit and get both kids on campus together one more time before the weekend.

Until then, Cooley and the other coaches will have to sweat it out and see what happens Saturday.

But keep in mind that in the end, all the talk of package deals in July doesn’t always end up coming to fruition in the fall.