Road Ready

Newly-minted West Virginia basketball assistant coach Jerrod Calhoun is set to hit the road next week for the July evaluation period, but he'll be traversing a landscape that could soon change, thanks to proposed NCAA rule changes.

Calhoun, who was elevated this week from his director of basketball operations position to an assistant spot under Bob Huggins, is anxious to get out to events and evaluate players and prospects in person. He'll take in a number of events, but his potential travel in future summers might be limited by the NCAA, which has proposed narrowing, if not altogether eliminating, the July evaluation period for coaches. Calhoun is philosophic about the NCAA's motives, but admits that he wants the opportunity to see as many players as possible.

"I like the July recruiting period, and I think that it's best for the kids that they get as many chances to play in front of coaches as they can," Calhoun said. "They get more exposure, and more chances to be evaluated. It's also great for the under the radar kids. It you cut down their chances to be seen, you reduce their chances of someone noticing them and offering them a scholarship. That is a life-changing event for a lot of them, and it's important that they get as many chances as they can to do so.

"The NCAA has their view on it, and we'll work under whatever guidelines they set," he continued. "I just think that it's better for the players to get those chances to be seen. Every additional chance we have to see them, we can learn more about them, or maybe find someone that we didn't know about before."

Some observers believe that coaches are fighting the proposed restrictions because it takes something away from them personally, but that's not the case. Travel to the many summer events is a grueling process for coaches, and from a lifestyle standpoint, most would probably rather be relaxing on a summer trip or a vacation than inhabiting hot gyms and making rounds of events that stretch from coast to coast. They understand, however, the importance of seeing players in person, and the summer circuit is far more conducive to that than trying to catch games while the college season is underway.

While the battle to keep summer recruiting alive is ongoing, Calhoun is focusing on the more immediate future. He has set goals of getting out to see as many players as possible, with an eye toward not only next year's class but also future Mountaineer signing groups.

"That's my biggest challenge at this point," Calhoun said after a busy few days of transitioning into his new spot. "Just getting out to see the kids is big. We've all been working on our plans, and Coach Harrison has been doing a great job in leading the recruiting meetings and keeping everything going. We just have two scholarships for next year, so we are working on them, but we are also laying the groundwork for 2013 and 2014. You have to do that now, and eventually get those players on campus. That is the key for getting many of these players."

West Virginia will continue to recruit the New York metro area heavily, but Calhoun will try to open up another, closer recruiting ground.

"One of the places we want to get into more is Ohio," he said of the talent-rich state. "It's close, so we can get guys to come on unofficial visits before their senior years. It's important to get them on campus, and there are a lot of players there that could play close to home."

Even though WVU would have to battle the likes of Ohio State, Cincinnati, Xavier and Dayton for top talent, Calhoun sees no reason why it can't do so.

"First of all, we have a Hall of Fame coach that has put 22 players in the NBA," he said. "Coach Huggins has an incredible background and history. For players that have NBA goals, this should be the place for them. Second, our academics are a great selling point. We have graduated all of our players the last two years, and our GPA is the best in the Big East. We have a great academic support system in place, so when I go in and talk to players and parents, I have a lot of things I can tell them. Then there's the new practice facility, the success we have had here – there's just a long list of things that we can point to when we are recruiting players for the program."

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