Thursday, September 20, 2012

A parent's perspective on recruiting

Recruiting. Although this premise may get some degree of argument, it's the foundation for success in college basketball. Do it well (a definition open to interpretation depending on one's position in the equation) and you have a future. Stumble as a coach and it's start ordering the packing boxes.

We've all read accounts of the process involving coaches and players but rarely has the vantage point of a parent been presented..

Here's a take after talking with the father of a three star D-I prospect son who is in the midst of the recruiting proceedings. His offering are in quotations.

"It's like high school dating -- an emotional roller coaster. Coaches get hot and cold. It's like a girl going steady with a boy until a boy with a cooler car comes along."

For the family, there was this experience: "one school sets us down for a big talk, telling us 'we love your son' but then we haven't heard boo from them since."

Yes, the phone calls end, the attention fades but hopefully replaced by a new suitor.

But sometimes, coaches make a return appearance.

"Coaches will call back after being out of touch for a long time saying 'we've been real busy working on our next class but we really love you.' When what has really happened is some more desired prospects declined offers from that school and the situation became 'remember so-and-so, let's call them back up."

Then there was this: "Last year, a handful of coaches come see him at his school in September. This September it’s a new handful of schools with little contact from last year’s schools.”

Followed by this: "When my son was a ninth grader, a coach had us to campus and said 'you're our top recruit  and can't wait to offer when you're older.”

They are no longer hearing from that school.

The father also introduced what was a new term to these ears.

"In some situations you have early offers or what we call projection offers because there are a number of schools in the state and the competition and pressure is there to go after the younger kids, to get a jump on the competition.  Then, the kid doesn’t grow or progress like they expected and they are dropped like a box of rocks."

There was also homework to do and a reality to be discovered by the parents and prospect: "Before all this, we thought if they offered you a scholarship, you signed it and have your four years of school paid for. We didn't know they keep evaluating a kid annually and will cut him if they like a new recruit better.  Some schools have reputations for doing this so make sure your kid is at the top of their depth chart or he may be on the chopping block after his freshman year. Certain schools have much better reputations than others and are committed to seeing the kid through his education."

Regarding advice, a bevy was forthcoming.

*  “Beware that some schools hand out offers like candy.  Sometimes 15 offers for 2 available scholarships.  These are usually the schools that will throw out a lot of early offers or projection offers. Other schools are much more stingy with offers and patiently wait and evaluate the athlete until they are sure. One isn’t better than the other. You just have to be realistic and investigate what type of school is giving you that offer. A great sight is VerbalCommits. It is not totally accurate or up to date but it does give you an idea of which schools hand out the offers like candy.”

* As a warning, "you don't really know you have a legitimate offer until the call to sign the paperwork. They are all verbal offers and verbal commitments until signing day. A verbal offer is still better than no offer but either side can back out at any time. The coaches won’t tell you it’s not a good offer anymore. They just stop calling so you lick your wounds and go on to greener pastures. It all depends on who still wants you when it’s time to sign the letter of intent.”

* "Go to practices as well as games because you can learn so much more about coaching styles through practice."

* "'Do due diligence' as we actually made contact via Facebook with some former players at certain schools in order to solicit opinions about the education and coaches."

Now granted, all of the above is based on a small sampling. Coaching behavior runs the gamut -- good, bad and ugly -- just like it does in any other profession. An education on the process is necessary, much preferably before getting on the roller coaster.

The father closed with "I did fail to mention it has been pretty exciting when a program develops an interest in your son and then follows that up with watching him during the summer. Then it really is exciting when they like him enough to offer. Then it is even more exciting to have them follow an offer up with a visit. When you get the head coach on the phone and at your school then you know they are serious and want your son. Those are the best times!”

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