Three quick takeaways from the first NCAA Live Period in the West
Whew. There it is. The first recruiting weekend of the spring is in the books. And there is a lot to discuss. What were the three biggest takeaways from Justin Young from the action? Let’s get into it.
1. We need to readjust the recruiting calendar for the spring.
Throughout the weekend, I’d text college coaches about their whereabouts for the first April NCAA Live Period in over two years. “Where are you at this weekend?” I’d ask them. Some were out and about, in Atlanta, in Southern California, in Indianapolis and Florida. But nearly every coach responded with some iteration of “I’m not out all weekend. We have a visit” or some mention of the all-too-present portal of college transfers.
You felt all of that at all of the live period viewing events nationwide. The sidelines and baselines weren’t quite as populated as they usually are. The get-older approach to recruiting is felt more than ever before. Colleges were hosting potential transfers over the weekend and fewer coaches were out and about on the recruiting trail.
Because the coaches were staying back and trying to secure immediate roster additions, the high school prospect remains a secondary option for nearly all of college basketball. That rings especially true for anyone that won’t be trading in their high school career for a diploma in a couple of months. Underclassmen, at the moment, aren’t the priority. In fact, rising seniors are more on the recruiting back burner more than ever.
The college coaching staffs are being asked to make a decision with their time. Do they stay back and host visitors? Or do they hit the road and evaluate? Not all staffs can do both. Not all staffs want to do both.
So, what should we do? What can be done?
Here’s my proposal - How about making the spring NCAA Live Periods the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May? This would allow the transfers and unsigned players of the current senior class take on-campus visits and let the college coaches manage those important moments without having to make a recruiting choice. The moved weekends allows more coaches to be back in the gym and build their recruiting lists with more focus and attention in the spring.
2. The value of the head coach.
If you ever want to know where you are on a recruiting board and what kind of priority you are for college coaching staffs, take note of who is watching you.
I saw one Division I head coach at two different events during the NCAA Live Period. O-N-E. That’s insane to me. It was Jamie Dixon of TCU. He was at both of Team Inland’s games. I’d assume he was watching 7-footer Dennis Evans of Riverside, CA. (I’ll get to Evans in a minute.)
There may have been more in the crowd but Dixon was the only high or mid-major Division I coach that I saw at two of the best NCAA Live Period events in the West. One. I just can’t get over that. And he came from a different time zone.
So, what does that mean exactly? Well, a lot. (See learning point No. 1, for starters.) You’ll know pretty quickly if you’re a wanted player if the head man shows up. That has rung true since Dr. Naismith put a peach basket on a pole. But now with so many other things that require the attention of a head of a program, being on the sidelines and baselines screams importance more than ever.
I’d expect more head coaches to be on the recruiting trail in a couple of weekends. The calendar sets up a little better. Who will they be watching? And will the prospects take notice? They should.
3. Who was the best prospect I saw over the weekend?
I thought about that a lot during the planes, trains and automobile trips - yes, I made all three in a matter for three days.
Dennis Evans from Team Inland is the best prospect. The 7-footer is all kinds of interesting. He gets better and better every time I see him. As a shot-blocker and shot-changer, there isn’t a better prospect in the class than the Riverside, CA kid. His length is unique and his timing to change the path of shots is terrific.
The trajectory he’s on is impressive. Currently, he sits outside the top 100 rankings. He probably needs to be inside the top 30. That line of thinking comes from three points: 1. His involvement with USA Basketball. 2. His growth of skill since he’s been in high school. 3. His sky-high ceiling. Long term, he could have a JaVale McGee trajectory. That is the ceiling.
There is so much more to dive into from the weekend and many more notebooks are forthcoming.