5 Ways COVID-19 Has Changed Recruiting

Over the past few weeks, we’ve discussed on our “In The Paint” podcast how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed high school and college basketball with high school players, high school and college coaches. Below are five ways the pandemic has changed college recruiting (perhaps forever).

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There is no doubt COVID-19 has touched every aspect of life and high school and college basketball recruiting is no different. The pandemic has made colleges coaches re-evaluate how they build a roster and what is important they spend their time on. Some have even built new, innovative ways to work our use space on their campus facilities.

Many things are temporarily halted or changed in the world of high school and grassroots basketball, but when it comes to recruiting some of the changes will end up being permanent. College coaching staffs are finding out it’s advantageous to keep some of the things they’ve implemented since COVID-19 became a world-wide issue back in March. Below are five ways college basketball recruiting has changed that you need to know about.

Colleges Are Making Evaluation Decisions Earlier
According to new NCAA rules, D1 recruits in most sports can now start taking official and unofficial visits starting August 1 before their junior year of high school. Obviously, nobody is taking campus visits right now during the pandemic, but when colleges are once again allowed to, potential scholarship players will be visiting as rising juniors. That means colleges will focus on on potential players they will ultimately offer sooner than ever. That means players have to physically and emotionally ready to approach the game in the necessary manner to secure a scholarship (habits, training, etc.) and be more realistic than ever about the level that makes most sense for them to play at.

Colleges Won’t Get Rid Of Their New Techniques After COVID-19
College coaching staffs enjoy zoom and virtual meetings and will continue to use them as a part of their recruiting process after there is a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s a way to easily stay connected to potential recruits (and trusted sources), get to know them a bit and to avoid taking unnecessary trips that waste money and valuable time. Student-athletes should get make sure to download and learn how to use all the popular virtual meeting apps. They should also make sure to keep scheduled appointments and clearly communicate with their high school, travel ball or potential college coach if they can’t make a meeting or need to re-schedule. Now would be a good time to create a calendar because successful student-athletes at the college level and successful businessmen use one.

Colleges Are Relying More On Others’ Evaluations More
It’s no secret college coaches haven’t evaluated players in person since early March. They won’t see any 2021 or 2022 recruits this summer or fall. Because of that, college coaching staffs are relying on the trusted scouting services they subscribe to and rely on more than ever. The people in the industry they trust are more important than ever. While alot of coaches (and fans) don’t think player rankings mean anything, what will always be true is that its beneficial for those evaluating you to believe you are of high character and responsible. It’s not a good look when a scout is being honest and he has to tell a college coach he’s seen you have a bad attitude, act selfishly, or display poor sportsmanship. Now, more than ever, student-athletes’ character is important and it’s also a good thing to keep a positive relationship or reputation with credible evaluators. If you don’t know them, introduce yourself and be cordial when they introduce themselves.

Colleges Are Looking For Self-Motivated Players
High school and college players are away from their coaches more than they have ever been because of the pandemic. Right now, some don’t have anyone to push them to train, work out, or seek somewhere to play. In these times, it’s easy to lose focus, get lazy or get off track when it comes to one’s on-court development. Sure, part of a college coaches’ job is to motivate his or her roster, but more than ever college coaching staffs are looking for motivated players. Will the player follow the regimen the coach outlined? Will he attend voluntary workouts without alot of pushback? Coaches want to know a player is just more than skilled, they want to know what potential recruits have that drive and competitiveness to compete for a rotation spot or take minutes from an upperclassman. This is especially true in light of the robust transfer portal. If a freshman can’t compete, why would a college waste its time when there is older, more seasoned, talent available in the transfer portal?

Colleges’ Recruiting Budgets Are Affected By COVID-19
Not every college has the budget of the best and biggest Blue Bloods, and the pandemic has affected college sports programs across the board. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem that many (if any) colleges will drop men’s or women’s basketball, but it doesn’t mean athletic departments won’t be more frivolous in their recruiting budgets or communicate to their coaching staffs that things have to be done with the almighty dollar in mind more than ever. Colleges don’t have the time to watch players they can’t recruit, go recruit in regions they normally don’t land players from or correspond or watch film of players who can’t compete at their level. With that in mind, it’s important to be realistic, pro-active, and open-minded about the recruiting process. Colleges are going to rely more on technology to evaluate so quality game film and access to it is a must. Make sure to don’t forget to identify yourself on your game tape. And just because colleges are casting a narrower net because of the state of the game, doesn’t mean you have to as a potential recruit. In fact, cast a wider net, reach out to colleges (don’t be generic, college coaches can sniff that out) and don’t be afraid. What’s the worse that can happen? So you don’t get a response or a response that informs you they are not interested. Simply try another program. Keeping a positive attitude about the recruiting process will put you in the best position possible when opportunity knocks.

Ronnie Flores is the National Grassroots Editor of Ballislife.com. He can be reached at ronnie@ballislife.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @RonMFlores

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