Syracuse University Magazine

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Alex Kline

Hoop Scoops

In the world of college basketball recruiting, Alex Kline ’16 has a remarkable following for a teenager who doesn’t dunk. As founder and publisher of TheRecruitScoop.com, Kline has turned what began as a hobby when he was a high school freshman into a nationally prominent web site that dishes the latest news on blue-chip prospects to a readership that includes players, Division I coaches, and fans. Kline’s work—fueled by dogged dedication, a passion for high school basketball, and his savvy use of social media networking—has also put him in the national media spotlight. In a 2011 article, Sports Illustrated called him “the world’s first teenage recruiting guru.” Last December, Forbes magazine selected him as one of the most influential “30 under 30” personalities in sports, adding him to a list that included NBA superstar Lebron James, sprint sensation Usain Bolt, and gold-medal gymnast Gabby Douglas. “It’s still pretty surreal—more so looking at the names,” says Kline, a broadcast and digital journalism major at the Newhouse School. “All I can really think is I didn’t fit in, but it’s an honor. It surprised me and caught me off guard.”

Not much catches Kline off guard. After all, he basically revolutionized the hoop recruiting industry by mixing 21st-century social media tactics with old-fashioned reporting and word of mouth. Since college coaches have certain restrictions on their communications with potential recruits, Kline created his own brand of service. He spent time in gyms, reached out to players on Facebook, texted with coaches, and looked to pair programs with players in search of scholarships. He built his source list and expanded his base nationally. In May 2012, during his senior year at the Pennington School in New Jersey, Kline struck a partnership with Yahoo Sports and Rivals.com, which elevated TheRecruitScoop.com to a premium subscription site and turned his work into a professional gig. “Everything kind of fell in place—it’s a domino effect,” he says. “I never envisioned it would influence my life and shape it in such a way.”

This spring, Kline often hit the road on weekends, covering tournaments in such locales as Boston, Hartford, and Gulfport, Mississippi. His Twitter feed surpassed 28,000 followers, and he broke the news nationally that UCLA head coach Ben Howland was out of a job. While Kline enjoys getting to know players and coaches, it’s also evident he sees basketball as a way to bring people together for a greater cause. In June at Philadelphia University, he hosted the third annual Mary Kline Classic, a charity high school basketball all-star event he established in honor of his mother, who passed away from cancer when he was 10 years old. Kline landed Nike as a major sponsor this year and collected $27,000 for cancer research. For him, the event not only raises funds for and awareness about cancer research, but also teaches the players about the importance of contributing and having an impact. “You know everyone has had their battle with cancer, directly or indirectly, so a lot of people can relate to it. It’s a powerful day,” he says. “My mom would definitely be proud. She’d be very honored with everything I’ve done for her. She was a great woman, and I’m just trying to carry on her legacy.”

As Kline looks ahead to his sophomore year at Syracuse, he’s ready to continue juggling a full load of classes with his endless work schedule. “When don’t I tweet?” he says, with a smile. He calls SU a “nice fit,” enjoys attending basketball games in the Carrier Dome, and says he’s learned a great deal about adjusting to life beyond the classroom. “I’m focusing on the present right now, the future can come,” Kline says. “I still have three more years of college; I don’t really have to worry about much—just work and do what I have to do.”     —Jay Cox



Photo by Steve Sartori