Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
In wake of Rice Commission recommendations, National Federation jumping into the recruiting world – ‘It could be a crapshoot’
By ADAM ZAGORIANEW YORK — In the wake of the Condoleeza Rice Commission recommendations made in April, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is now jumping into the world of college basketball recruiting.
The NFHS on Tuesday will unveil its draft criteria for how they will approve recruiting events in June run by state high school associations under the new system. The changes in the NCAA recruiting calendar approved by the Rice Commission came in the wake of the FBI investigation of bribery in college basketball and the arrest of 10 people, including four Division 1 assistant coaches, in September 2017.
The Adidas trial involving three defendants in the case is set to go to the jury on Monday here in New York.
“The National Federation holds the key,” said St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli, who serves on the Subcommittee for Non-Scholastic Basketball and also on the Men’s Basketball Oversight Committee. “[The NFHS] is going to put out a template, they’re going to pass it to every state in the country.
“They’re going to say, you have to have medical coverage, you have to have separate seating for college coaches. Everything will go from the National High School Federation to the state association. And they’re goint to give suggestions. Do you want to run a team camp? Do you want to run a combine? Do you want it to be regional, four sites in a state.”
The NFHS , which is housed next to the NCAA in Indianapolis, will be stepping into unchartered territory with this move and the future remains unclear. Under the new system, recruiting during September-March remains unchanged, but things will change during the spring and summer.
High school kids can still play with their AAU teams during April and July (although July will look different, too), but during June the idea is for college coaches to see them in a high school setting. The events will run the last two weekends in June (June 21-23 and 23-3) from 6 p.m. on Friday until 5 p.m on Sunday.
Dave Archer, the former head men’s basketball coach at Binghamton University who now works with the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the National High School Basketball Coaches Association (NHSBCA), will be part of the NFHS unveiling on Tuesday.
“The NCAA legislation had three parts,” Archer said. “The first part was that the National Federation would be the approver. The second part was that each state could have total control over what takes place in their state, working with the state high school basketball coaches association. And then thirdly, it had to be done on a high school or non-Division 1 campus.”
Asked how much experience the NFHS has doing large-scale events like this, Archer said, “Zero. They have zero experience and zero power. They can’t tell the states what to do.”
He added: “We could have a real crapshoot here with 50 states each doing their own thing, but the focus of this is on recruitable Division 1 men’s basketball kids, so that really limits the number of states that have any number of kids.”
Archer said so far fewer than 10 states who are NHSBCA members have plans to run events in June. Those states include California, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
“Obviously, Indiana has been the flag-bearer,” Archer said. “They’ve been doing this kind of thing for years. Michigan is very close behind them. Texas is brand new to the game, but boy they have put together some great things to take place in Fort Worth. I mean great things. Tennessee is ready. New York is in the process. Wisconsin is in the process.”
Archer said some states could opt to combine for events. He said Oregon and Washginton — both NHSBCA members — are “putting on a multi-state thing that will include Alaska and Wyoming and so on.”
New Jersey is not a member of the NHSBCA, but coaches in the state are working on their own events, sources said.
“I’m waiting for the great unveil to say, ‘What can we do to help those places like Georgia and Jersey that are good basketball but don’t have a coaches association?'” Archer said.
Martelli said there will be “hopefully more than 50” events nationwide because states like Pennsylvania could have as many as four or five.
“You’re going to have to have an event in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and Harrisburg,” Martelli said.
College coaches will then have to prioritize what events have the kids they want to see nationwide.
“You’ll have four coaches at four different locations and maybe guys will go to as many as an event a day,” Martelli said. “Maybe they’ll stay at one place.”
A lot of questions remain unanswered, such as who will pay for travel for all the kids? Let’s say New York holds an event in Manhattan. Who is going to pay for travel, hotels and food for any kids invited from, say, Buffalo or Albany?
“That has never been decided,” Archer said. “At the meetings, we’re very concerned about urban and rural kids, so that’s certainly out there as to what to do about that. Some are saying we should have the event right in the cities. But as far as the travel expenses and so on, that is not NCAA-covered. They’ll cover those in the July period for their regional camps.
“But this is like, ‘Is their any money?’
“‘No, you figure that out.'”
Still, Archer said his organization, the NHSBCA, has experience putting on large-scale recruiting events in places like Indiana, Michigan and New York and “desperately wants to get back to where recruiting is influenced more by the high school coach.”
“That’s pipe dream for the very elite kid, but for the kid that’s trying to get back into the local junior college,” he said. “But somehwere in there we want to get back to where a coach is a coach.”
As for July under the new system, there will four days of AAU certified events (one live period), meaning the Nike Peach Jam, along with the Adidas and Under Armour finals, will still exist and college coaches can still attend July 10-14.
USA Basketball will also run an elite camp for the top national recruits the last weekend of July (26-28). (The USA Basketball website lists planned Junior National Team Minicamps in April in Minneapolis at the Final Four, and in July in Colorado Springs. Colo.) There will also be several NCAA regional camps July 23-28.
“USA Basketball will have a national camp for the top 80-100 kids, like the truly elite kids, the kids that can make the Olympic team,” Archer said.
“The NCAA instead of having all those various things in July, there will be anywhere from 4-6 regional camps that will be run by the NCAA.”
You will see the Mike Krzyzewskis, John Caliparis, Bill Selfs and Tom Izzos of the world at these events, as well as any high school event in June that features kids they are recruiting.
Longtime recruiting expert Tom Konchalski, among others, has expressed concern that those players not invited to these camps could sue the NCAA because they won’t be getting the chance to be seen by college coaches.
Archer said that isn’t a concern for him.
“I don’t think we can avoid that mania that’s out there, but going to court and actually proving that kept that kid out of the NBA, or whatever, that’s the tough part,” Archer said.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.