On Friday, just after midnight, the brave new era of unlimited contact between college basketball coaches and prospects that have finished their sophomore year of high school was ushered in. There’s no doubt that cell phone screens lit up across the country, as the clock moved past midnight.
There’s little doubt that college coaches will benefit from this rule, provided they don’t irritate their recruits with excessive contact. Hard working, tech savvy coaching staffs will have as much opportunity to sell their schools via a digital medium as they can muster the time for.
It’s not entirely a win-win, though, as at least some high school basketball stars aren’t exactly excited about the deregulation. After speaking to a cross section of players from the 2013 and 2014 class at the USA Basketball U17 try-outs, it seems as if coaches will have to feel out which players want constant contact, and which players are more comfortable with occasional messages and calls.
2014 point guard Joel Berry was mixed on the unlimited contact, and thought that it could lead to unnecessary distractions. Berry said the best benefit for recruits was to find out which schools are the most interested. For what it’s worth, Berry, of Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) was contacted by Miami just after midnight, followed by Ohio State, Florida State and Central Florida.
Pennsylvania wing forward, Rondae Jefferson, will start his senior year of high school in the fall. He is highly-recruited, and expressed concern that some of the contact could progress to the point where he considered it harassing. He added that his phone’s battery died after the deregulation occurred, partially due to the contact he received.
Kendrick Nunn, a former Texas A&M pledge, pointed out that the rule was a great benefit to coaches, but he questioned how valuable it was for players. The two schools pushing the hardest for his college services, Illinois and Marquette, both contacted him after midnight.
Chicago big man Jahlil Okafor, a top 5 center, did see a potential upside of developing a better relationship with the coaching staffs through the contact, and noted that his potential suitors weren’t bothering him in the recognition that he was training to make the USA team. Coach Rick Pitino contacted Okafor just after midnight, sneaking ahead of long-time pursuers Ohio State and Michigan State, which followed Pitino’s lead.
The track record of self-regulation of NCAA coaches isn’t great, but there is the hope that coaches have an incentive not to bother players too much. Strong parents and guardians will certainly have a role in hoping this gets out of hand, and as it stands now this rule change certainly seems heavily tilted towards coaches.
(Photo via AP/Rusty Kennedy)