On Wednesday, the NCAA is expected to announce an approved series of changes to college basketball recruiting, which originated in the Rice Commission report on the game issued in late April.
Since that document was presented, various committees have been established to transform the Rice Commission’s recommendations into NCAA regulation. One committee worked on summer recruiting and initially determined, according to reporting by veteran basketball writer Jeff Goodman, that college coaches no longer would be allowed to scout non-scholastic tournaments — often grouped colloquially as “AAU basketball” — instead having them view prospects with their high school teams or at NCAA-run camps that will be introduced next summer.
The reaction to that proposal was a significant backlash from college coaches, leading to some minor alterations that will include one period in July for non-scholastic tournaments to be scouted, according to Matt Norlander of CBS Sports.
MORE: College basketball warned: FBI plays higher-stakes game than NCAA
But is that what should they be doing?
Condoleezza Rice and her commission blundered by not talking to enough people who know where the problems exist in the recruiting process and where they do not. Sporting News determined they at least should be heard, their insight noted. And we thought it would be beneficial to allow them to speak anonymously, so no one would have to hold back on their beliefs.
With that said, here are some opinions on how the NCAA should handle its proposed summer recruiting regulations:
Head coach, high major program, Eastern U.S.
I don’t think July is screwed up. It’s a tremendous opportunity to evaluate high-level competition with all the three different shoe companies. The tournaments are organized. Are there a lot of tournaments? Yes. But to be able to see someone in a team setting, I think, far outweighs putting a group of kids together and trying to do a quick “skills and drills.”
The NCAA has made it where you can’t talk to the coaches during the event, and during the certified time, so I think things are strong as it is.
The issue is, they’re trying to take out the third party, but if you want to take out the third party there’s only one way to do it: Only allow us to do high school recruiting, 24/7/365. Only go to high school gyms whether it’s June, July, August. But not every third party is a bad apple. A lot of third parties give the guidance and the necessary tools to help young people, to guide them where they need to be.
Maybe there’s a few that hope to latch on when it’s all said and done and they have a chance to be a pro. But so be it. That’s America. You’re going to have a third party some way. You’re not eliminating that. The perception is, ‘Let’s have the third party be the high school coach.’ But a lot of high school coaches want to take vacation in the summer. They don’t want to deal with everything.
I don’t think it’s reality to eliminate the third party. Whether it’s a high school coach or grassroots coach or skills trainer, if they’re trying to wheel and deal and get something out of it, then that’s on them and that’s on the college coach that’s doing it. But a lot of people get involved in this to see kids do well.
If somebody wants to cheat, they’re going to cheat. You can put a deadbolt on your house on the door, but if a robber wants to get into your house, they’re going to break through the window. If you commit a serious violation as a college coach — if you pay a player or have academic fraud, then the punishment should be more severe than it is. But otherwise, the game got a black eye with what happened last September, but the majority it’s still a very strong, positive game.
High school coach, Southern U.S.
I definitely love what Nike is doing with the EYBL, because back when I played you may see a top guy, you may not because you’re in different parts of the country. With the EYBL, you get the coaches here in one spot, everyone in one spot. I really hope they don’t change it.
It’s true that high school coaches have lost some control of the recruiting process, but that’s all about what kids you’re getting. If from the beginning you have a good relationship with him, I don’t think anybody can take the kid from you. If you can get him to the right situation in the summer, as the high school coach it can all work in favor with you.
Maybe 10 years ago, when the AAU really boomed, a lot of AAU coaches had all the power. It was a lot of that going on. I think the coaches were leaving high school and going to AAU because they thought that’s where the power was, where the money was. If high school coaches stick to what they do, and AAU coaches stick to what they do, it can work.
Me, as a high school coach, whoever my guys play with in AAU, I’m talking to them throughout the year. He knows what I expect him to do for my kids in the summer, and I’m going to do the same for them when I’m coaching them in high school.
I understand from the NCAA’s point of view why they would want to shut off access to tournaments and control it, but I don’t think that’s the right decision for the kids. I think they need to continue to do what they’re doing. The proof is in the pudding. You see the guys who’ve been out here, the next year or year after they’ve made it to the NBA; a lot of them have. You’ve seen it work. It’s working.
MORE: NCAA should end ‘Elam Ending’ talk
Assistant coach, mid-major-plus program, Eastern U.S.
I like the concept of seeing kids in different situations. A lot of people perceive that this is trying to eliminate AAU. I think AAU and summer grassroots have a definite part to play (in the recruiting process). Anyone that’s been to Peach Jam or out in Vegas, it’s really high-level. You get to evaluate the best against the best — in a lot of cases, in very cohesive, well-coached settings.
But I like the idea of seeing a kid with their high school team, where a guy that might be No. 7, 8, 9 on an EYBL team is more of a focal point, and get a chance to see how their coach utilizes them and see them be more productive.
I know what people’s concerns are about camp settings, but I also see a value in taking a kid out of his comfort zone of his AAU or high school team and putting him in a camp setting where everyone’s a little bit for themselves. We do it with USA Basketball and do it with other things. I think there can be a value to that, as well.
Let’s say we’d do seven to 10 days in June for high school, seven days for grassroots in July and seven to 10 days of these camps. To me, those things together are going to allow you to paint some different pictures. I don’t think we can put all our eggs in the camp basket; it’s a little bit of an unknown. And it’s a little bit problematic for the player. I’ve even heard some mid-major coaches say that guys they’ve identified that are a little under-the-radar, they’d want to keep them away from the camps and keep the Power 5 guys from seeing them.
Recruiting reporter, Midwestern U.S.
I would change very little. What we are looking at, as far as the things that are issues, are extreme outliers of a very, very big system. The proposals from this commission not only are misguided but really show zero knowledge of what causes the problems the commission claims it wants to eliminate.
The commission is really hanging its hat on situations like Brian Bowen’s, who, according to legal documents, was paid by Adidas to pick Louisville. Bowen did not play for an Adidas-sponsored summer team. Bowen did not play for an Adidas-sponsored prep school. Yet Adidas, according to legal documents, paid him to go to a certain school. So removing players from certain shoe-company-sponsored situations is not related to whether or not they get paid or not.
The commission’s proposals tell the unknown prospects they will not be allowed on the road to college basketball. This new proposal wants players to be selected for these NCAA-sponsored camps based on the players college basketball coaches already know about.
Beyond that, camp basketball is the worst basketball there is. Shoe-company-sponsored teams are actually teams; they play pretty good basketball. Anyone who has watched the Peach Jam or Adidas Gauntlet, you’ve seen good teams actually out there playing.
You could look at something like the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp. A lot of good players. It is laughably horrific basketball. A bunch of dudes from around the country who don’t know each other, who don’t know each other’s games, who never played with each other before get thrown together and go out and play, and it’s awful basketball. You’re trying to evaluate guys and it’s, ‘That’s a point guard. I don’t know why they have him playing off the ball.’ And they bring in these guys who are NBA players to coach these kids. Rajon Rondo had no idea about any of these kids or their games. He should never be put in charge of their development for a week.
The commission is taking the worst summer basketball there is, camp basketball, and saying let’s make this the norm.
Condoleezza Rice constantly talked about shoe-company influence. Some of their statements seem to believe it is this all-powerful entity that runs the show. You have Zion Williamson, whose Dad ran an Adidas-sponsored summer program. Yet Zion picks Duke, a Nike-sponsored school. The whole idea that shoe companies control all of it is not based in reality.
National recruiting analyst, Southern U.S.
The whole camp thing is disastrous to me. I went to a camp recently, and it wasn’t the top-tier talent, and no offense to those guys but I was sitting there thinking it would be awful if this is what we have to evaluate. The guys don’t have any cohesiveness. They don’t know each other. Bigs don’t ever touch the ball.
This is probably the wrong outlook, but if somebody wants to cheat they’re going to cheat. That’s not just basketball. That goes for any other sport or any other business. I don’t know that AAU events are any different than high school events when it comes to agents or people doing things inappropriately. This notion that AAU is dirty and high school is clean is stupid. It’s inaccurate. There are good people on both sides. There are people that do the wrong thing on both sides. To single out one is disturbing.
There are a lot of AAU coaches that spend a lot of their own money, and are in it for the right reasons. There was a coach on a team filled with low-major players and he and his wife are begging me to write about how much these periods help their kids. There are a lot of kids who wouldn’t get noticed if we went to a camp setting because maybe their games don’t lend themselves to a camp setting — or maybe they don’t get invited.
We’ve got a group of people on this board that don’t really know today’s game, and today’s industry, and how it operates.
MORE: Peach Jam: Bigs can’t just be big anymore
Assistant coach, high major program, Midwestern U.S.
My first thought is this whole thing is sad, that it’s gotten to this point. We’ve all heard this before: There’s a few bad apples, and it spoils it for everybody. I believe that. I watched some games at the Peach Jam and I saw real coaches, real games, guys playing as hard as they can play. It was really enjoyable. It’s a vehicle for kids to get exposure to college coaches, which is the whole idea.
I have some ideas but I don’t know legally if the NCAA could do some of these things. Say, if a coach of a summer team gets caught doing something that would be outside the rules, put a five-year ban on this person where no college in Division I could recruit any player this person has involvement with. It would be like the rule we have where if we hire a basketball staff member — someone who isn’t a coach — and for two years we can’t recruit anyone he is associated with. That would steer players away from guys doing some shady stuff, because they don’t want to be caught up in this.
We’ve got to take some responsibility for this, also. It’s like, what do they call it with the police? … ‘The Blue Line.’ I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and I’ve seen us turn the other cheek when we hear and see things. A lot of times we don’t want to be considered a rat or whatever, but also we’re not investigating and we don’t know if there’s actual proof. It would be awful to accuse someone of doing something wrong, and they didn’t.
I think the rules should be much stricter on us, when it comes from the NCAA, on cheating. People outside of our business are going to ask for it if they know they’re going to get it. If they didn’t know they were going to get it from coaches, they would have to go another way if they’re going to try to make money off these kids. We, as the coaches, we make it to where it is now.
How do you stop it? Before you can leave campus as a recruiter, you should have to spend two years of residency at a Division I program and learn what recruiting and coaching is about. I think that would help. It would relieve a little pressure, and it would educate young people who come in with no experience about what should be done and how it should be done.
National recruiting analyst, Midwestern U.S.
My way to change July, after the 4th I would have an open seven-day period and I would only certify four-day events and then three-day events that follow that four-day event. July 6-7-8-9, if you want to run a tournament then, good. July 10-11-12, want to run a tournament? Good. Like all events do now, you would have to apply to get certified. And then again at the end of the month you would have seven days on in that same format.
The thing it does, it gets rid of these stupid little one-day combines, which are just money-makers for AAU programs.
If you’re going to change something, that means you believe there’s a problem. If you do make changes, the changes you make should be to fix the problem. No change that they have has gone to fundamentally fix what they have identified as the problem. So to me that’s just a complete failure on the part of the commission and the (National Association of Basketball Coaches).
The other thing is they’ve throw a lot of things on high school coaches that a lot of high school coaches don’t want. Most of the AAU coaches are younger. They’re willing to take kids on visits. They’re willing to be a part of the process. The high school coaches, do they want to be dealing with this?
I know one high school coach, where I’m from, he doesn’t like participating in team camps as it stands right now. And the reason for that is, he says, ‘All this does is tick players off. If I’m not playing my guy, he’s going to transfer to another school. It’s June; I don’t know who’s going to play in my season.’
Another reason some coaches don’t participate in team camps is their schools can’t afford it. Or because they’d rather be on the beach.
Share if you enjoyed this post!