Torrance Jones is an assistant basketball coach at Ashley High School in Wilmington, N.C.
As the end of summer approaches, so does the end of the travel basketball schedule. College coaches have made their evaluations, cultivated relationships, and taken valuable insight from their high school counterparts.
It’s a whirlwind, but for coaches, it’s wound down.
The beginning of August signaled the start of the first quiet period of the 2016-17 recruiting calendar. During a quiet period, colleges coaches can meet recruits on campus and communicate via letter or telephone, but may not scout live events or visit high schools.
Thankfully for college coaches, they are allowed to continue speaking with high school coaches, and they may well be one of the most underrated scouting resources available. These established relationships can help fill voids in the calendar and offer valuable insight that can’t be taken off a stat sheet.
Whenever I attend an event (like a team camp) in which college coaches are present, one of my top priorities is to introduce myself to coaches I have not met. It is equally important for me to communicate with coaches that I have previously met in order to continue that positive relationship for future recruiting. Within these conversations, I can gauge interest levels that college coaches may have in a recruit, as well as determine what positions a college program is trying to fill.
But when the season starts, things become much harder and communication tends to break down. In fact, Webster Guthrie, the head coach at Ashley High in Wilmington, where I also coach, says that the best time for building such relationships are during summer events which leads to better communication for recruiting in-season.
The use of advanced technology has added an element that improves the recruiting process, particularly when communication is difficult. With the plethora of advanced scouting websites (Max Preps and Hudl among others), coaches can quickly provide information on an athlete to an interested coach. In the past, video recordings were the main source of recruiting through regular mail, but now, coaches are able to access data to help manage rigorous scheduling.
It’s also important to remember in the recruiting process that few can give as holistic a report on a player as a high school coach. Not only is the coach with the player in practice and on gameday, but also during regular school hours. High school coaches can monitor academics, as they are generally a staff member within a recruit’s high school. Academically, if a player I’ve coached is having trouble, I will offer to tutor during our study hall. On the court, I’ve found that providing access to our gym on Saturday mornings to work on individual skill sets is also beneficial. These strategies allow me to tell college coaches about player’s work ethic and how it translates to all areas of his life.
For the recruit to be successful, their coaching staff should be actively involved and must place the recruit’s best interest at the top of the process. Ultimately, that is what I strive for.