July overload creating bottleneck of recruitment period
Though I wasn’t able to make it out to any AAU events this July (maybe that’s a good thing), I have spoken with a few writers, players and coaches about all that went down. Lots of positives, but glaring criticisms, too.
The consensus from the players: too many games.
The consensus from the writers: too many teams.
The consensus from the coaches: too many games and teams.
With April now out, July is the only time college coaches and scope out prospects or, more accurately, put themselves in the room so the prospects can see them.
USA Today ran an article this morning detailing how big the problem has become. What used to be a 24-team circuit in the ’80s has now bloated to more than 200 teams in Division I. Altogether, the numbers are entirely too high.
Regardless, July has become the most frustrating month for coaches. You want to know why some staffs can run seven, eight coaches deep? It’s because there are so many events in so many states, head honchos have to send assistants everywhere to see certain recruits, and then get to those recruits’ AAU coaches.
The big boys stick with the Peach Jam, which happens on the border of Georgia and South Carolina, and either the Vegas or Orlando mega tournaments. But quality prospects are everywhere.
“Teams are probably playing too many events,” says Crawford, the treasurer of AAU basketball. “There’s so much pressure from parents and players to play in more events for exposure that it takes away from what we’re about — and that’s developing players.”
Do players not develop in July? I think they do, but it depends on the player, position and what system said player will ultimately end up in. Still, now that April is no longer a month coaches can visit recruits’ games, there’s been a bottleneck. If I could afford an cartoonist, you can envision the depiction he’d come up with: a horde of coaches trying to squeeze through a door, arms extended, in order to get to a recruit in the room.
If April’s doors are never going to open again, it seems there will only be more tournaments/options for AAU teams. There is a desire from the AAU circuit to travel and get these players in front of as many eyes as possible. Lots of trouble comes with that. You’re dealing with more possibility for injury early, and what could amount to adding a year’s worth of games on a 16-year-old’s body.
You factor in the fatigue, and coaches aren’t getting to see in person the true capability of a player. The system’s not broken, but with talk of limiting the age a player can be recruited (good thinking, but it’s a philosophy that will be in vain) and the squeeze on coaches, there’s a likelihood the courting process will only get dicier and more of a crap shoot.