Eliminating July Recruiting Would Be Mistake

The NCAA Conference Commissioners recently voted unanimously to propose getting rid of the July evaluation period from the men's basketball recruiting calendar. Why would they make such a decision and what benefit would come from it?

That's the question and it's a question that has left most coaches in the collegiate and high school ranks scratching their heads.

"I think it's clear they are concerned about the culture of recruiting," said DePaul coach Oliver Purnell. "In their minds, there are a lot of things that they're concerned about that occur in the summertime whether it's being around negative influences, maybe traveling too much, or maybe concern about college coaches being away from their own kids. Those are some of the things that they are probably thinking about when they made this recommendation, but I'm not a mind reader."

St. Rita High School coach Gary DeCesare brings a unique perspective to this subject. DeCesare has worked in the college ranks as an assistant at DePaul and Richmond, has worked as a high school coach in New York City and Chicago, has been involved in grassroots basketball, and has directed the Reebok ABCD summer camp. DeCesare sees the topic from all angles.

"Why do they want to take away July," asked DeCesare. "It doesn't make any sense. Why does it have to be July? Why can't they go out and evaluate whenever they want?"

After all how can evaluation and scouting be a bad thing? DeCesare, who has served on NCAA advisory committees, believes that the NCAA has this all mixed up.

"I've been saying for years that I think they have it all backwards," Gary said. "Back when I was a high school coach at St. Raymond's, I said this then and I'll say it now - they give the college coaches 130 days during the academic year and 20 days during the summer. That's 150 days, you don't need 150 days. If you took a number like 100 or 110 days and gave that to every staff to go out and recruit whenever they want."

DeCesare believes that such a move would benefit both recruits and coaches. A few years ago, the NCAA removed the April evaluation period from the recruiting calendar. It was a move that has since done more harm than good for the game.

"That would solve it," said DeCesare. "Why can't college coaches go out? Last time I looked there was 365 Division I transfers this past season on (FoxSports.com's Jeff) Goodman's list. Obviously, the system is not working. They aren't being properly evaluated."

It's true that transfers out of Division I programs are now higher than they have ever been. Much of that is due to problems with the lack of proper evaluations.

"You'll have a tendency to make mistakes recruiting because you don't see them enough," said Purnell. "By seeing them in the high school season and seeing them in a setting where a lot of times they are playing against even better players, it gives you a better evaluation. I like that. So I don't like eliminating it from that standpoint."

Eliminating April from the calendar didn't result in fewer AAU basketball events either.

"They think that with all these rules, they aren't going to stop events," said DeCesare. "Kids are going to play every weekend. The NCAA has to understand that they should stop trying to police grassroots, and police their own people."

"That's the problem and until they realize it, they can make as many rules as they want, people are still going to work around those rules. The last time I looked the NCAA rulebook was 500 pages and there are only 10 commandments."

The July evaluation period is important to college coaches, because it is a time where they can firm up their decisions on which recruits to invite for official visits in the fall. Not to mention there is always the possibility of uncovering an overlooked talent.

"That's a critical evaluation period," said Purnell. "There's no way around that. Sometimes somebody new pops on our radar screen, or you get to see someone play that you saw during the year and you get to see them play and they're not that good, or you get to see them play and they're really good. That happens all the time. The majority of the schools recruiting make decisions during the summer evaluation period."

Reportedly, the NCAA Division I board will meet on the issue on October 28th. The board could accept the recommendation and remove July evaluation from the recruiting calendar beginning in 2012, send the recommendation on to another committee to study, or not accept the recommendation.

What will college coaches do if such a proposal is enacted?

"The bottom line is, if it's eliminated, then I'm hoping that there will be another way where we can get a chance to see these kids," Purnell said. "Are they going to give us more days during the school year? Are they going to spread it out to the point where we can see them early enough and often enough to make that decision? I think that it's good for the kids and good for the school if there is a sound evaluation, because most kids want an opportunity to play and most coaches want to recruit somebody who will play. I can see a situation where you're going to make some mistakes or there are some decisions made based on very little evaluation. "

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