As an assistant coach at Boston University, Boston College and Ohio State and head coach at Wright State for a combined 17 years, Paul Biancardi, now the director of basketball recruiting for ESPN, knows all too well about the importance of locating talent early on.
That’s why, when it comes to pre-teen ballers, he’s OK with identifying.
But that’s it.
“I’ve got no problem with identifying,” said Biancardi, who was named Horizon League Coach of the Year at Wright State for the 2003-04 season. “It’s when people start to rank the kids that it’s gone too far. I think that’s almost insane to rank a kid that young.”
Biancardi and his staff begin to rank players as sophomores and compile a watch list for freshman. We had him dish on the top five reasons not to rank players before that.
5. They’re just learning the game.
“In most cases these kids have just picked up a ball to play an organized game a few years prior. They don’t have any idea about the game at that age because they haven’t been exposed to it enough at a high level.”
4. Too many unknown factors.
“Generally speaking there’s so much room for a young player to grow or not to grow. Lots of kids are talented and advanced at a young age, but most of the time they’re playing against kids who won’t develop their skills for another three or four years. You don’t know how that kid will adjust once kids catch up.”
3. It’s too serious.
“These kids will have plenty of time to go through all the pressures kids put on themselves for being ranked and things like that. They don’t need to be exposed to that at such a young age. They just need to worry about being well-rounded kids.”
2. It can be mentally damaging.
“Those pre-teen years are when kids are forming their identities and creating self-confidence, and something as small as not doing well at a certain tournament or against another player who’s supposed to be really good could really stay with a young player. You don’t want him to be damaged mentally because that’s the biggest aspect of the game.”
1. Not developed physically.
“What if your body frame doesn’t change? What if you don’t grow? You could absolutely be the same size in high school that you are now, and if that’s the case that’s a problem most of the time. You could have a 6-foot-4, chiseled eighth grader that never grows past that and never learns guard skills. He’s going to be in trouble because at that size he’s not going to be dominant at the elite high school level. It’s never a definite about a kid’s size.”