Gentleman, start your recruiting

5 Jul

Decisions made over the next week and a half can be the difference between a trip to the NCAA tournament or your pink slip. (Photo: ESPN.com)

By Justin Young
National Hoops Report

I am back from my long vacation and boy do I have a long list of catching up to do. Let’s get right to it.

WELL, HELLO AGAIN

July is here and it is huge. For starters, it is the first time college coaches have had a chance to watch prospects in person against other comparable talent since the high school season.

College coaches used to evaluate players at weekend grassroots events in April. They haven’t had that luxury for three years. That has been costly. Coaching staffs would enter the spring with a list 30 or so prospects to evaluate. Assistant coaches would evaluate players on the must-see list. Head coaches would watch players that the assistant coaches deemed worthy of scholarship offers. Staffs would likely rotate through games to see the committed players, if there were any at the time.

After three weekends of evaluations, the list of 30 players would likely be trimmed to a dozen or so. Sometimes there were more. Sometimes there were less. Nevertheless, coaching staffs from all levels knew which players would get the full court press in recruiting leading into July.

Welcome to the modern day era of recruiting for college basketball coaches. The days of know exactly which players the staff were going to see are done.

Now head coaches spend the first 10 days of the 20 days available for evaluations at an all-American type of camp. This year’s LeBron James Skills Academy will likely be the landing place for the most overall talent during the first period of live action. Head coaches from coast to coast will converge upon Akron, Ohio to see these players. Assistant coaches will be there, too, but the higher the priority of a player generally draws the head man.

Those that don’t go to the LeBron camp can be found regionalized tournaments all across the country. The first week of July is the most important of the year from a recruiting perspective. It is a make you or break you week for the players and the colleges.

With April now closed, college coaching staffs are using this week to evaluate in snippets to decide whether or not a player is a must-see, must-follow, must-offer, must-stalk or cast off prospect for the month of July. A lot of coaching staffs will organize on the fly for the rest of the month. If a player catches the eye of a coaching staff, travel plans can be scrapped and an instant reorganization of plans happens.

On the flip side, we could also witness a lot of one-hit wonders from the player’s perspective. If a player can strike it big at the right time or have a big game against at player that is considered one of the big-time. That could be the peak of that prospect’s basketball career. It happens. The problem now, however, is that prospect could earn several scholarship offers from schools just because they want to beat the rush. That player will likely jump on a big offer only to transfer from that school down the road simply because he isn’t good enough.

Not having an April period allows for those kinds of mistakes to happen.

Again, keep an eye on the first 10 days of the recruiting period. Decisions made over the next week and a half can be the difference between a trip to the NCAA tournament or your pink slip. No pressure, coaches. Enjoy.

MOST IMPORTANT EVENT THIS MONTH

Nike Peach Jam. It is believed that Nike has the best collection of talent. The landscape of grassroots basketball has lost its competitive edge. The Peach Jam hasn’t. I can’t express how encouraging it has been to hear players talk about going to North Augusta for the event and winning it all. This will be the place to be in July. It always has been. This year is no different.

THE RACE IS ON

The theme of who is the top dog continues in the class of 2012 and 2013. The rising senior class appears to have found it’s voice for order of players.

In 2013, none of the services agree to a consensus as to which player in the rising junior or senior classes is the best of the best.

2012 Rivals Scout ESPN 247Sports/Prep Stars CBS/MaxPreps
1 Shabazz Muhammad Muhammad Drummond Muhammad Muhammad
2 Andre Drummond Drummond Austin Drummond Drummond
3 Isaiah Austin Austin Muhammad Austin Austin
4 Kyle Anderson Dejuan Coleman McGary Kaleb Tarczewski Coleman
5 Mitch McGary Mitch McGary Coleman Richard Ledo McGary
2013 Rivals Scout ESPN 247Sports/Prep Stars
1 Andrew Harrison Jabari Parker Julius Randle Julius Randle
2 Julius Randle Julius Randle Jabari Parker Jabari Parker
3 Chris Walker Aaron Gordon Nerlens Noel Nerlens Noel
4 Jabari Parker Nerlens Noel Chris Walker Andrew Harrison
5 Nerlens Noel Chris Walker Chris Thomas Chris Walker `

I have no problem with Shabazz Muhammad as the top player in the class of 2012. He’s a producer. You know what you are going to get with him. You don’t have to worry about his effort level. He’s not a “when he decides to play hard, he’s unreal” kind of player. Drummond is. Austin is. Michael Beasley, one of my all-time favorite “when he decides to play hard” players is the key example of unmotivated stars. Muhammad is always on.

I’ve been pushing my agenda as Aaron Gordon as the top overall player in the class of 2013. We get so excited about potential in basketball that we sometimes dumb down production. Gordon produces. He plays with undisputed effort. Talk to any coach and he’ll probably tell you that he wants production over potential and effort over expectations.

But here’s the question: can someone else outside of the top three players emerge as the top player in 2012? We’ll see.

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