Live period allows regional schools to evaluate talent, find sleepers

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The wise move of the NCAA to bring back live evaluation periods to April will hopefully have the effect of under-the-radar players landing offers that they wouldn’t have otherwise snagged in the previously packed July evaluation period. While many recruiting websites focus, and rightly so, on Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League and other big name events, numerous regional-oriented events took place last weekend, with some sleepers being exposed to college coaches in their areas.

The Best Buy Mile High Classic was a new event in Denver this year, and was hosted by the Minnesota Pump and Run grassroots basketball team. With most of Colorado’s top club basketball teams in action, the tournament also showcased teams from Oregon, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas and elsewhere to college coaches that represented conferences such as the Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, Mountain West, Summit, WCC, WAC and elsewhere.

On hand to attempt to lock down the borders to the Centennial State were head coaches Tad Boyle (Colorado), Joe Scott (Denver), BJ Hill (Northern Colorado) and new Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy. Also, Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt was on hand with an eye towards the talent south of his school’s border.

Perhaps the top in-state talent, 6-3 shooting guard Carlton Hurst showcased his skills in playing for Colorado Chaos Elite. The bouncy guard picked up a scholarship offer from New Mexico to go with previous tenders from Colorado State, Wyoming, Buffalo. While not an elite national recruit, Hurst will be a priority recruit for regional mid-majors, and this was an excellent venue for him to demonstrate his skill level and potential.

Another beneficiary of the live period in April could be 6-9 center Brekkott Chapman of Roy (Utah). He was a huge factor in Utah Hoops taking the 16U division in the tournament, as a finesse-oriented big man with good shooting touch and passing ability. After missing half of his sophomore year due to an injury, Chapman shook the rust off for a great performance in a run towards the title. He currently doesn’t have any scholarship offers, but with Utah, Utah State, Weber State and BYU all showing interest, that could change in the short term.

The April live evaluation period also allows schools to babysit their verbally committed recruits, and show them some face-time. In the 2013 class, such commitments as Bryce Alford (New Mexico), Cullen Neal (St. Mary’s) and Blake Danielak (Texas Tech) all had members of their future coaching staff’s on hand to check out their games. Neal’s father Craig Neal is an assistant coach at New Mexico, and had plenty of targets to check out in the tournament.

The event also allowed coaching staff’s to look towards the future. High school freshman Henry Ellenson, a 6-8 forward from Rice Lake (Wis.), already has offers from Georgetown, Marquette and Iowa State, and will add more in the near future. Also, 6-8 8th grader De’ron Davis turned more than a few heads and could be an elite prospect in due time.

The 17U championship game featured Texas D1 Ambassadors-Morse and Danny Granger Select. Both teams featured a handful of current high school seniors, members of the 2012 class. This event, and others like it, are factors in finding college basketball homes for next season, which had to be done in different ways without the evaluation period.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.