The Recruiting Guy:

Changes target shoe connections

Published: Sunday, February 24, 2019
A Lafayette basketball player shoots a jump shot on the NCAA floor logo during practice for an NCAA college basketball second round game in Pittsburgh Wednesday, March 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
A Lafayette basketball player shoots a jump shot on the NCAA floor logo during practice for an NCAA college basketball second round game in Pittsburgh Wednesday, March 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The FBI investigation of college basketball forced the NCAA to make changes in the way college coaches recruit.

The call for change started when assistant basketball coaches from Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Southern California were charged in a federal corruption investigation in September 2017, and officials from Adidas were convicted of funneling money to top prospects in exchange for them signing with schools affiliated with Adidas.

The Commission on College Basketball led by Condoleezza Rice was created to alter basketball recruiting, and in doing so eliminated coaches from attending most of the shoe-sponsored tournaments for evaluation purposes.

This will be the first year of reduced access for college coaches to events for evaluation of high school prospects. In recent years, coaches were allowed to go on the road for two evaluation periods in the spring and three in July while shoe-sponsored events were being held.

Adidas, Nike and Under Armour events will go on as usual, but the new schedule allows coaches to be on the road in only one period in April and another in July when shoe-sponsored events are conducted.

The shoe-sponsored events allowed college coaches to see numerous prospects at one event against better competition than a high school setting.

ESPN national director of recruiting Paul Biancardi sees prospects having a harder time getting noticed with the new rules.

"There's less days to be evaluated and less places to go with the new recruiting calendar," he said.

College coaches will have chances to evaluate prospects from July 11-14 and at the NCAA Youth Development Camps on July 23-25 and July 26-28 held in four regions.

"They're supposedly inviting 2,400 players," Biancardi said of the youth camps. "How do you make that roster of 2,400 list with different classes? There are a lot more than 2,400 Division I players between all four classes. There are roughly a thousand Division I scholarship offers every year. Then you have your junior class, your sophomore class and freshman class. There are a lot more than 1,400 Division I players left."

The camp setting is the worst possible way to evaluate a prospect, Biancardi said.

"They're not playing with their high school team that they're a part of for four or five months," Biancardi said. "They're not with their club team they have chemistry with. They're lining up with four other guys to play against five guys with little or no practice."

Previously, the last evaluation period in July would have three major events -- Adidas, Under Armour and Nike associated Bigfoot Hoops in Las Vegas, along with others in Los Angeles, Kansas City, Mo., and Orlando, Fla.

It was in Las Vegas where Joe Johnson Arkansas Hawks guard Issac McBride earned several late scholarship offers, including one from Kansas where he eventually signed.

Biancardi believes there will be fewer cases like McBride under the new structure.

"A lot of guys are going to be left out," Biancardi said. "A lot of guys aren't going to get invited [to NCAA youth camps] so opportunities are going to be missed during the summer more than ever. You feel bad for the kids that are trying to improve and trying to get looked out."

Coaches now will be allowed on the road for two three-day periods in June. The events will be operated by the National Federation of State High School Associations and will not involve any apparel companies. The focus is on developing relationships between college and high school coaches.

Fewer opportunities likely will lead kids to look at different venues to get noticed.

"I think camps become popular right now," Biancardi said. "I think kids need to go to camps where there's good instruction, but also where there's some media attention so they can get looked out by people when college coaches can't see them."

Biancardi believes the powers-to-be are realizing the imperfection of the new system.

"I think they realize this isn't going to be the answer, but it's too late to change it," Biancardi said. "I think it will be trial and error. I think they'll look at it and tweak it and make some adjustments to it."

Sports on 02/24/2019

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