The way that college basketball recruiting will be done for the foreseeable future was changed drastically last month when the NCAA announced changes that will be implemented next summer.
Specifically, the month of July is going to look drastically different than it did before. Instead of providing college coaches with three weeks to traverse the country and scout players at a myriad of grassroots basketball events, the live period will be one, single weekend that is expected to be dominated by shoe company events.
Peach Jam isn’t going anywhere. The finals of Nike’s EYBL circuit will be held during that one five-day period at the same North Augusta, South Carolina, facility that it’s been at for years. Under Armour and Adidas are expected to follow-suit, hosting the finals of their circuit just an hour or two away.
This puts low- and mid-major coaches in a bind. With already-limited travel budgets, they have to make a choice between attending smaller events and being seen by the players at the end of the bench of the shoe company teams, and HoopSeen is hoping to fill that void.
HoopSeen is a company that has run smaller, non-shoe company Live Period events for a decade, including the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions as well as the Best of the South tournament, and it is the latter that the company is hoping will be the place that non-affiliated AAU teams will trek to this summer.
Because the company is renting out the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta, bringing in 35 basketball courts and hosting the single largest tournament in the country this July.
“We may need more,” said Justin Young of HoopSeen, noting that the GWCC annually hosts a girls AAU tournament that features as many as 60 courts under one roof. “Talk to women’s coaches. They love it.”
The issue with the NCAA eliminating two of the three July Live Periods is that AAU basketball, at its core, is all about exposure. The highest level of it, where shoe companies pour thousands, if not millions, of dollars into it, targets the top 30 percent of college basketball coaches. The rest of the country — every program that doesn’t play in one of the Big Seven leagues and that isn’t Gonzaga, VCU or another program from a mid-major league that has graduated to Big Boy Status — relies on seeing, scouting and evaluating as many kids as possible.
Where the biggest programs in the country are able to focus on just a handful of prospects that they believe are good enough to play in the Big 12, or the Big East, or wherever, the rest of the country is trying to see as many players as possible, knowing full-well that they may be giving out scholarships to kids that were completely unknown outside of their hometown heading into July before their senior season.
Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Villanova. Programs like that scout with a sniper rifle, identifying their targets early and focusing on their recruitment for years and year. Mid-majors? Their scouting is more like a shotgun blast, spreading themselves as thin as humanly possible to see as many hidden gems as they can.
And HoopSeen’s Best of the South event is primed to allow them to do that this summer, all while being a couple hours away from the biggest events this July.
It’s a brilliant idea, one that every AAU program and coach outside the high-major ranks should pay mind to.
“Travel teams can’t gamble with their schedule in July 2019,” HoopSeen CERO Mike Eddy said. “This is the stage where they can get it right and have their players compete on the best stage in the country.”