Coach X talks summer recruiting

August, 1, 2011
The anonymity afforded by ESPN the Magazine's Player X features allows sports types to speak their minds. That means, for example, that Player X can say what most players apparently feel about Kevin Garnett -- "a punk and a coward" -- without fear of public reprisal. Say what you will about the efficacy of anonymous sourcing in modern journalism, but sometimes, this format works wonders.

There are no major bombshells in this week's "Coach X" feature in The Mag, but if you're an Insider, it's worth heading over and checking out. Coach X addresses the current debate on summer recruiting, and lends some insight into why most coaches feel they're shortchanged by the NCAA's small evaluation window in July:
Right now we've got two evaluation periods in July that total 20 days, plus 161 days from October to March. And it's tough to get on the road during the academic year, when I'm focused on my team. I promised my recruits and their families that I'd help them mature, and I'm supposed to leave campus every free moment to see a high school game? So, basically we get a couple of days at the big sneaker camps in July or one or two visits to the kid's high school to see whether he'd be a good fit. That's where the NCAA has really hamstrung the coaches. The recruiting period gets shorter, you have only a finite period of time to see a kid and it forces coaches to go off recruiting lists. And people are shocked that there are more transfers than ever? We make mistakes.

Coach X says he'd like to see men's hoops switch to the women's recruiting calendar, which includes an evaluation weekend in April and September alongside the current July period. That seems to be a consensus among many coaches, and it's no secret.

Perhaps less well known is how important private jets have become to the basketball recruiting process. Coach X says "about half" of current BCS coaches have a plane on call for the entirety of the July evaluation period, even if some schools have to share the days allotted with their football counterparts. Either way, the advantages of having a private plane seem rather incredible: The amount of stops one can make in a short period of time dwarfs that of a coach who has to fly into major airports on commercial jets and rent cars to get to his destination.

The term "recruiting arms race" often refers to the facilities schools are building for their players: the shiny new weight rooms, the lockers with XBoxes, the 24-hour practice facilities. What might be more overlooked is these massively expensive, borderline ridiculous private jets. Some coaches have them. Others don't. Would it be any surprise to learn the former group recruits more successfully than the latter?



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