Wondering how aspiring high school and college athletes in Idaho are dealing with these trying times? See what new challenges they face from a Southern Idaho high school basketball coach.
Recruiting Challenges Amongst Covid
All Idaho high school seniors hoping to play basketball at the collegiate level face an incredible disadvantage this year. As a high school basketball coach and an assistant director of an Idaho club basketball program, I’ve witnessed several crushing moments with senior players. Several players’ recruitments have stalled due to their inability to travel and play in front of collegiate coaches, which is a crucial part of the recruitment process.
The ability to see players practice and compete in person (as opposed to a video evaluation) is integral to the recruiting process. Typically, Idaho basketball players travel to large scale tournaments in the spring and summer to compete in front of college coaches from across the country. NCAA basketball coaches are normally allowed five weeks a year—generally two weeks in April and three weeks in July—to attend these tournaments and recruit players with potential. This year, however, these dates have been repeatedly postponed, leaving high school seniors in limbo.
From a college coach’s perspective, observing high school players in person is invaluable. First, it is necessary to see players play against quality competition in order to fully assess their potential. Video evaluations can only provide so much; collegiate coaches often need to see the full ambit of their play, not just a highlight reel. Second, coaches need to see if the player’s size, speed, and skills are consistent with what they have heard or what they have seen on film. This is hard to replicate. Third, good coaches evaluate more than just talent: they evaluate the player’s quality as a teammate, how they respond to coaching, how they respond to adversity, etc. Again, these are areas that a video or highlight reel cannot provide. As such, recruitment has stalled in part due to coaches inability to fully evaluate high school players.
All high school basketball players face this challenge today. However, Idaho players are at a comparatively bigger disadvantage than other players in the PNW. Tournaments with the best recruiting exposure take place in California, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon. In addition, California and Washington have several times the amount of in-state universities and colleges with competitive basketball programs. Considering the fact that colleges carry only 15-17 players on a roster, early exposure is crucial.
For now, players participating in strong programs (both high school and club) have an advantage because college coaches may reach out to them for information. Recently, coaches from Division II/Division III/NAIA/NAIA D2/Junior College schools were finally permitted to travel and recruit players (Division I coaches are still not allowed to leave their collective campus). Having trust in the recruiting world is so huge for coaches at all levels. Players need to continue, preparing, have some film on hand, keep their academics high, and wait for their opportunity to showcase their skills.
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