Coaches need to diversify their texts

October, 16, 2012
10/16/12
2:30
PM ET
Nobody likes mass texters. You know the type. They usually aren't your close friends, and you don't hear from them often, except maybe every now and then on the weekend, and the best they can muster is a "Hey, what are you up to?" That is almost certainly a mass text, sent to you and 20 other people, and few matters of cell phone etiquette are more irksome.

Thankfully, owning an iPhone, which joins large text groups into one unified timeline, has helped eliminated this trend. (If a text looks like it could misinterpreted as mass, I add the recipient's name, just so they know I'm not that guy.) But rest assured, there are still people out there sending mass text messages, too lazy to greet their friends personally. And some of these people are college basketball coaches.

USA Today High School Sports talked with a handful of elite basketball recruits about this very topic. Apparently, plenty of top prospects receive the exact same text messages from coaches as their friends and peers on the grassroots. That sounds more like copy and paste than mass texting, but it is just as predictably ineffective:
“I had a school tell me that if I came there I’d definitely be Player of the Year, but then I talked to my friend and he told me that they told him the exact same thing,” said Aaron Gordon, [the No. 6 overall prospect in the ESPN 100] who’s being courted by the likes of Kentucky, Arizona and Stanford. “I don’t know how we’re both going to be Player of the Year.”

“They all say the same things," said Julius Randle. "All of them. You can almost say it with them after a while. But that’s their job, so I understand. The funny thing for me is hearing that they tell another player he’s the priority in the class when they told me the same thing. We just laugh about it.”

Years ago, back when coaches sent waves of written letters; back before cell phones, when phone calls were tightly restricted; back when recruiting was about discovering talent, and less about wrangling over the same 100 players that every basically agrees are going to be good; coaches could get away with this stuff. Players didn't talk to each other all the time. They didn't keep in touch with guys across the country, who they became friends with at a Skills Camp, or competed against since they were 12. There was no way to know. A coach could tell every one of his targets he was the best, the one and only, a future star, and then figure how much of it he meant when the player signed the line which is dotted.

Now? Not so much. We humans tend to keep in touch more easily these days, and never is that more true than among teenagers, elite basketball talents or no. It's a smaller world than ever, and that goes double in recruiting.

I would have assumed coaches had adapted to this new landscape, but apparently that's not the case. But they'll have to now. These kids may be rolling their eyes and laughing the whole thing off, but it's still pretty embarrassing.

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