Summer Mistakes To Avoid

ESPN commentator and former Washington Post writer Michael Wilbon famously called O.J. Mayo (left) a "punk" when he was in high school at Huntington (Huntington, W.Va.) before ever meeting the current NBA guard. Photo: Ronnie Flores

ESPN commentator and former Washington Post writer Michael Wilbon famously called O.J. Mayo (left) a “punk” when he was in high school at Huntington (Huntington, W.Va.) before ever meeting the current NBA guard. Photo: Ronnie Flores

Recruiting is a cut throat business, but it can a rewarding experience more often than not if everyone involved in the process showed some restraint, worked hard for the kids looking for a scholarship and exercised common sense.

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Club ball in the summer can determine futures and change lives. High school basketball can do that too, but the process is usually accelerated during the summer viewing period because coaches only have a limited amount of time to evaluate prospects per NCAA rules.

Recruiting for a young player can literally change overnight. To make sure this happens in a positive fashion as much as possible, we present three common mistakes that should be avoided by everyone involved in the process.

Club Coaches

1. Not turning in rosters — We know sometimes this can be a chore and you don’t get anything extra for your time, but it’s a big help for media and college coaches. It also gives the impression that you care about your kids and that is a positive.

2. Focusing on self — You may be auditioning for a better position within your organization, but the focus should be on the kids. Too many timeouts and over coaching is a negative and increases the likelihood coaches will go check out another game.

3. Not spreading the wealth — An elite player will bring visibility to your program and could help you land a shoe deal, but you should care about the 10th man on your team as much as the star player. It’s a negative when you don’t or when you are just in it to coach a family member.

The Buzz 150College Coaches

1. Snubbing the little man — Coaches have certain other coaches and contacts they trust to get or confirm information about players, but they should try to keep an open mind during the process. Sometimes newcomers on the recruiting scene or lesser experienced media members can offer a fresh perspective. Coaches should never leave any stone unturned and quite frankly some we run across do.

2. Not focusing on your level — At the last summer event we attended, we saw NAIA and Division III coaches watching a game involving players they had zero shot to land. Why? What good did it do? Sure, once in a while it’s nice to watch a high level game, but if you’re a Division II coach, you should be focusing on those players exclusively. You need every advantage you can to secure players when your polo shirt doesn’t say UCLA, Duke or Kentucky on it.

3. Always following the pack — Division I college coaches will offer a player because another school at their level or in their conference has without having seen him play in person. Coaches also sometimes are hesitant to offer a player that no one else is recruiting. Coaches should stick to their guns and recruit the players they want and periodically take a chance on a  player that doesn’t meet the prototypes at that particular position at their level. Perhaps it would help cut down on the four-year, 40 percent transfer rate.

Mainstream Media

1. You don’t own the joint — Sometimes media members that regularly cover the pro or college beat and hit the club scene for an occasional big story or big event look down at that level of basketball. It’s either a case of been there, done that or brining an attitude of covering an event that is beneath them. Mutual respect for other’s objectives along press row makes events more enjoyable to cover and gives others a better understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish with your work.

2. Making too many sweeping generalizations — He has both parents at home. He comes from a single-parent home. He has a shady club coach. I saw him talking to a runner so he must be getting paid through an agent. Sometimes media who doesn’t cover the circuit extensively makes generalizations or labels players too quickly to give their audience (who is even less familiar with the grassroots scene) an idea of who the player is. Each player has his or her own unique set of circumstances. Going the extra step to find out or double check facts should be the norm when covering a high school-aged athlete.

3. Blaming the kids — Teenage basketball players are much more sophisticated than many adults give them credit for. Sometimes it takes time for them to open up if they don’t know you. Players often know who spends a lot of time in high school gyms and who is looking for a scoop. If they don’t initially give you the response you’re looking for it isn’t fair to label them in a negative manner.

Parents

1. Pretending to be objective — You aren’t playing or coaching. You had your time to play high school sports. There is not much worse at a gym than a parent that tries to live through their kids or bask in the glory of their kids athletic success. There’s very few people in the industry that think you are objective about his or her talent level. Be supportive, but just know unless your son is a consensus top 25 recruit, he’s probably not as good as you evaluate him to be.

2. Not doing your homework — Why are you leaving one club team for another? Why are you making last minute decisions? Being organized and knowing what your kid is trying to accomplish and what level he or she can realistically play at will increase scholarship chances. Do you let the schools that have shown interest in your kid know where and when he’ll be playing well in advance? Do you know about the live evaluation period and what that means? If you don’t, you should consider checking out the book “How To Get Recruited” by Clark Francis.

3. Not giving kids space — Kids do like their family to support them, but parents watch many more of their children’s games per season than their parents did when they were growing up. Sometimes it puts added pressure on kids and can potentially make the game less enjoyable if you’re there every single time. Teenage kids want to feel independent and skipping a game now or then and simply being in a good mood when you see your child after the game can go along way to lift a kid’s spirits if he or she didn’t play well. Berating them or being extra disappointed because their team lost can take the joy out of the game.

Players

1. Not being prepared — Do you have all your equipment? Do you have the correct jersey? Did you properly warm up or just hit the gym five minutes before tip-off? Those little things can make a difference to a college that may have interest in you and can also make you more relaxed. Earning a scholarship isn’t easy but being late or distracted makes it even harder.

2. Not knowing your role — If you’re playing with a high-major recruit and you are not getting recruited, don’t be distraught if coach doesn’t call your number in crunch time. Communicate with your coach what his or her expectations are for you. Concentrate on what you do well in the game and work on your weaknesses in practice. Having unrealistic expectations is the easiest way to lose your passion for the game and it will eventually affect your performance.

3. Stretching the truth — If you are struggling in a couple of classes, don’t tell a recruiting service you have a 4.0 and are thinking Ivy League. If you are a player headed to a school like Florida-Gulf Coast or Cal Poly Pomona, don’t tell a media member you favorites are Kentucky and North Carolina. We understand recruiting network writers and editors can be overbearing at times, but be honest and if you can’t talk at the time, let them know in a polite manner. Don’t give them a reason to knock you or raise a red flag because that person could be someone a college coach goes to for an honest assessment.

Recruiting Analysts/Services

1. Having a closed mind — Sometimes, scouts go to the gym with a predisposed notion of whom they are going to watch or how good they think a kid is based on what someone else said or wrote. Try the best you can to make your own evaluations and to watch kids you haven’t seen before. Once in a while it may be a good idea to put away the roster, just jot down numbers and then come back later to see who those kids are. You may be pleasantly surprised at your evaluations and could help cut down on the human bias factor which exists in everyone working in the industry.

2. An inflated ego — If you make a statement about a player to another scout, or publish it, don’t be afraid to admit you’re wrong or change you’re mind. Players do get better (and sometimes they get worse) and that should be noted. There is little worse in the industry when it’s obvious to everyone around you that you were off in an evaluation, but are too proud to admit it or have to make excuses about it. Every scout in the industry misses on a player once in a while. It’s human nature.

3. Being a copycat — As the recruiting industry grows, there are more similar tweets everyday and when a player commits, there an abundance of stories about the same subject matter. Some of these stories have plagiaristic material and we have experience spotting that because we have experienced the plagiarizing of some of our own work over the years. Plagiarism is the ultimate low in the industry. Readers get tired of seeing the same old story and tweets and would like nothing more than to read an original story with a fresh perspective.

Keep in mind, we’re not trying to bash any particular group, just point out things we’ve witnesses over the past 15 years on the circuit. We’re also generalizing each group a bit, but remember stereotypes exist for a reason.


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