In an attempt to take power away from AAU coaches, the NCAA is expected to announce their decision to end the July recruiting period, thus reforming grassroots basketball. The anticipated change will be NCAA and USA Basketball funded regional camps in place of the July recruiting period. There will be four regional camps that will feature around 2,000 or 3,000 athletes held on rotating college campuses. The top 700 or so players at these camps will then compete at another camp that the committee hopes will be run by G League coaches, and possibly even college and NBA players. But what does this mean to AAU and grassroots basketball?
It is expected that college coaching staffs will nominate up to 35 players to attend the camps. To our knowledge, this is the only way a player can gain entry to the camps. Because of this, it is imperative that athletes be on a college coaching staff’s shortlist of recruitable players as soon as their sophomore or junior year of high school.
In order to get on a coaches radar you must do well on your high school team, use recruit management systems to contact coaches, attend college prospect camps and/or go to exposure events that have the ability to put out press on your talents. If a player fails to get on a college coaching staff’s shortlist of recruitable players, there is a high possibility that that particular player will not receive a basketball scholarship.
High/Mid Major Division I Programs
High Major Division I programs will benefit from these camps; these programs will be able to see all of their recruits compete against high level competition in a short period of time. It also allows coaching staffs to evaluate talent based on skill without the influence of sneaker sponsored teams and/or coaches, in theory achieving the NCAA’s goal.
It is also expected that players in the 2020 class will have the option of going to the NBA out of high school, thus ending the one and done rule. These players will be evaluated by NBA scouts at the camps.
Low Division I / Division II Programs
To compete with High/Mid Major Division I programs, the Low Major Division I programs will be forced to eliminate as mush risk as possible. Few programs will recruit players who do not make the top camp, instead, they will recruit experienced and proven prep school or junior college players or they will recruit High/Mid Major Division I transfers. The best opportunity a player has to play Division I basketball is to be chosen to attend the top camp.
The Sneaker Companies
It is speculated that sneaker companies will switch their focus to elite high schools, prep schools, and/or basketball academies. Potential NBA prospects will choose to attend prep schools that practice 5 or more hours per day such as Rocktop Academy, IMG and Mt Zion over traditional high schools. However, the NCAA will limit the sneaker companies power over these programs as well. Because the NCAA is eliminating the one and done rule, it is expected that sneaker companies sign elite players looking to skip college and go straight to the NBA as soon as their junior year.
Players in the 2020 & 2021 classes are the test subjects for the NCAA. As early as August, the changes are expected to be swift and without much pushback. Therefore, players and parents must make decisions now in order to be in the best possible decision to receive a scholarship.
What events do I attend?
The most important thing for players to attend going forward will be college prospect camps. This is an easy way to be evaluated in front of coaches.
Exposure Events. Scouts and media are going to be a huge asset to college coaches going forward. Coaches have to trust someone. Go to events scouts are going to be at. Don’t wait for exposure, pursue it. Get it early and often.
What high school do I attend?
This is a very important question but a tricky question. A lot of players will be forced to choose between an elite private high school or their local high school. High school coaches will be more involved with the recruiting process. It is important to have the right coach pushing you to the right schools. Each situation is unique – Do you attend your local high school or do you take a chance and attend an elite private school or prep school?
Does AAU matter anymore?
Of course it matters. Some of the best basketball minds in the world are involved with AAU basketball. Their power will be much more limited. AAU coaches (who know basketball) will still have a voice in which players a program should recruit.
Wes Rines / Sam Rines