Midnight Madness losing its clout?

In the past, the opening of college basketball practice showcased the most hot and heavy recruiting weekend of the year.

But no longer is that the case. We've seen numerous commitments delivered this fall on the heels of official visits, obviously, but the pace has been scattershot and the overall energy has ebbed.

There's one obvious reason for this: No longer has everyone conducted their Midnight Madness events on the same weekend. The NCAA altered its practice calendar this year, and thus teams started at varying times. For that reason there was no official beginning to the season, and the very competitive nature of visits simply didn't manifest as it had in the past.

A top prospect could visit two or even three of his favorites' Midnights officially, while in the past recruits were forced to make difficult choices. And given that the nature of those events lacked their previous unique appeal, commitments have been relatively slow.

But a deeper look reveals that's not all that may be happening. The various events themselves seem to be losing some of their prior novelty, and players appear to be less influenced by them.

Social media and other alterations to the overall recruiting fabric undoubtedly have exerted an impact. If you're a top player embarking on visits while simultaneously managing thousands of Twitter followers and conducting various interviews with major media — and considering an ultimate announcement on live television — why undercut your own self-promotional power?

"My visit was great, I'm looking to the remaining trips," has become the familiar refrain, and in a sense players are demonstrating greater discipline than at any point in the past.

No longer does getting the final visit mean as much, either. Players have become cagier about harboring a longstanding leader, ginning up excitement at later visits, then making the choice everyone expected they would initially.

Wave recruiting weekends still exist, of course, but in the past you could count on multiple such events each fall.

Let's took a look at the Class of 2014. All seven of our uncommitted top 10 players have taken high profile officials this fall — including package deal duo Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones — yet despite visiting some heavy hitters they've all adopted a methodical approach.

The three who have made early decisions — Emmanuel Mudiay, Justin Jackson and Karl Towns — did so prior to the official visit season. Thus, among our top 10 seniors, fall officials have produced bupkis so far. There's still a chance that Kentucky, Kansas or Memphis, among others, might score based on this past weekend, but there's been nothing so far.

But hey, even if they're no longer useful for recruiting, we still can call celebrate the opening of the season. That's something.

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