July Evaluation Period Should Remain
There have been rumblings of the NCAA doing away with the July evaluation period for collegiate basketball coaches (similar to what they did with the April evaluation period in 2007). I’m here to give my opinion on the situation and shed some light to why I feel this way.
Speaking on a personal level AAU and the travel circuit helped to establish my reputation with college coaches and scouts. The majority of my scholarship offers came to me after recruiters and evaluators watched me on the travel circuit during the months April and July before my senior year.
I had a great relationship with my high school coach Jeff Wulbrun, who previously served as an assistant coach at University of California and Illinois State University. He was a great teacher and ran his program like a college program in regards to practices and substituting. We were one of the state’s top high school teams both my junior and senior year (combined for a record of 50-9 in both seasons) and had a ton of collegiate prospects. Even with the talent and reputation we had there were few collegiate coaches who came to evaluate us during our high school games. Personally, I remember three Division-I programs attending our games: Evansville, Indiana State, and Wichita State; that’s it! This was part of the reason Coach Wulbrun was an advocate of AAU basketball, because of its exposure.
My AAU experience was different than most. My father was my coach. We weren’t sponsored by any big shoe company and we weren’t able to recruit around the state. However we had a talented team made up of local kids which made us more like a family. My father didn’t tamper with recruiting. He worked with each player only when asked or he stayed out of it. On the court there were no politics. Being one of the most talented players on the team and the son of the coach I can vouch, whoever played well got the minutes. There were times where big time coaches were in the gym and my father sat me for because others played better than me. Regardless we were all recognized and exposed to college coaches which earned a lot of us scholarship offers. Of the 13 players on our team in my final year, ten earned Division-I scholarships. Before that summer only four of us were being recruited at the Division-I level. Without AAU basketball it is likely the other six players wouldn’t have earned D1 scholarships and would have been forced to settle for smaller programs.
Now I know a lot of the experiences of AAU are not like mine. Do I think there is a lot of wrongdoing being done on the travel circuit? Yes. Do I think there needs to be something done to clean it up? Yes. However I do not feel getting rid of the July evaluation period will help.
Without college coaches being able to come out and evaluate prospects during the summer evaluation period they will be forced to take the word of many AAU coaches, who some refer to as handlers. This gives much more power to these handlers and the game of politics will be essential with them.
Elimination of this period would also heavily disrupt small college programs’ ability to recruit at the national level due to the fact that they carry smaller budgets. More schools would be forced to recruit locally and would not be able to pull in national or, to an extent, regional talent.
Do I have a suggestion on how to clean up college basketball recruiting? At this point, no I do not. However, I do know that eliminating the July evaluation period is not the direction to go. It would be a detriment to both college coaches and the kids looking to earn exposure.