The NCAA is ready to make drastic changes to the way high school basketball players are recruited by Division I colleges. The summer evaluation period will reportedly be overhauled, with the goal of lessening the influence shoe company-sponsored grassroots teams and coaches have on recruiting.
According to former ESPN reporter Jeff Goodman on his latest podcast, these changes are set to be recommended by the NABC — National Association of Basketball Coaches — ad hoc committee to Condoleezza Rice’s Commission on College Basketball in August. The recommendations are “expected to be implemented swiftly and without much pushback.”
This is what we know so far:
- The NCAA will fund and host four regional camps — potentially one in June and one in July — that will feature around 2,000 or 3,000 athletes. These camps will be 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.
- Goodman says the objective is to “try to take some of the power away from AAU coaches and give it back to the high school coaches.” Goodman reports colleges may have more access to events and practices run by high schools in the summer.
- From Goodman: “The big thing here, according to sources, that’s likely to happen, is that AAU basketball is no more. The coaches wouldn’t be able to go out in July to these shoe sponsored events anymore. That would be the big change if these recommendations come to fruition.”
If there’s one thing the NCAA is good at, it’s snuffing out opposition. Just ask the NIT. So I wouldn’t dismiss this outright. But — and there’s kind of a big one here — there’s more to AAU basketball than shoe companies. John Infante ($$) points out that the AAU is there to serve a market that high school basketball can’t, namely, that élite basketball recruits want to play nearly year-round to hone their skills. If you kill the AAU, who fills the vacuum?
I mention this for a couple of reasons. It’s in an earlier stage, but we’re already hearing words of warning that 7-on-7 football risks going AAU-ish. If the NCAA intends to clamp down on one, you’d have to think it’s prepared to take similar steps with the other. Second, the NCAA, schools and coaches are messing with powerful forces in the shoe companies that they also depend upon for some of their incoming revenue. Go about this in a half-assed way — and this is the NCAA we’re talking about, remember — and you risk some serious blowback.