The pandemic has changed sports in a way we’ve never seen before. It’s taken them away. There hasn’t been a ball bounced in about a month and it has forced everyone to reassess how they handle and work their recruiting when it comes to basketball.
“For those in the 2020 class (outgoing seniors) are not too affected if they haven’t already signed,” Robert Kelly of Prep Hoops Kansas said. “It’s the 2021 class that is going to be more affected by this.”
With AAU and MAYB already canceling their summer schedule of tournaments, exposure it as a premium at this point. Those borderline players who used the tournament circuit to be seen will now have to rely on their tapes to get them into the head of college coaches.
For players like Jerome Washington of Andover Central, It’s dictated how he views schools. While he cannot get on campus or meet with coaches, he has to trust relationships he built up before the pandemic took over.
“Coaches sent more emails,” Washington said. “They’re also texting more and asking for more game film.”
It helped Washington was already being recruited by McPherson when he signed on Wednesday afternoon.
“I have to trust myself in a person and having the internet helps,” Washington said. “Being able to access schools online and research coaches and other things about the program helps.”
While Washington found his school, other players will have to wait and see when it comes to the season.
For the recruiting side of things, Butler Community College head coach Kyle Fisher is adapting. He’s making recruiting videos and getting creative on social media.
“While our recruiting is mainly about 80 percent of next year’s team,” Fisher said. “We’re still having to get creative.”
Though, for new coaches who aren’t well versed in the over the phone conversations and being able to get into living rooms as they’ve been so accustomed to over the last decade, those older coaches may have a leg up.
“I’m back and forth on how I feel about it,” Fisher said. “On one hand, we have to sign several players. On the other, I signed 15 players last year and didn’t start until mid-April last season.”
There’s discomfort for coaches and the process in which you deal with prospective recruits has changed. Not being able to get them on campus or meet the recruit and his family can change how they perceive you.
“Until you get them on campus and look them in the eye, they may not be able to make a decision,” Fisher said. “That a lot of times is a deal breaker.”
Coaches using social media to find recruits help. Fisher admits he gets many different emails and direct messages on social media with game film. He views a majority of them.
“If it’s poorly written, I move on,” Fisher said. “If it’s written right; has stats, clips, heights and a more video, I’ll take a look at it.”
All of this goes back to the trust Fisher kept talking about. It’s about the relationships you’ve built with coaches throughout the country. While Fisher and his staff may not be able to go to New York City to recruit a kid, having that relationship with a local four-year coach in the area to give you an honest assessment of the prospect can be the difference between getting the type of guy you want for your program or not.
The loss of the state tournament was a crushing moment for not only the players but the coaches. Many coaches use it to make contact with players who are shining at the right time. McPherson waited for Washington after their first round game and it turned out well for both.
“It’s not uncommon to go look at a state tournament where to look at one kid and end up seeing 2-3 others,” Fisher said.
Butler is adjusting, as are all of the athletes. It’s what must happen and hopefully at one point, we’ll get back to where we were. For now, you adapt and you overcome.
“We’re just going day-by-day, case-by-case,” Fisher said. “You have to be open, honest and direct with your intentions; even more so right now.”