Cali Live '24: What We Learned

We evaluated games at each hour for each of the three days of the 168-team Cali Live 24 and these are the most prominent things we took away from the three-day event.

The 168-team Boys Cali Live '24 June Scholastic Live Period event in Roseville, Calif. concluded on Sunday with first place pool finishers playing another first place finisher in a de-facto championship game. There were 42 pools in all and many standouts across the board. There were tons of players to evaluate, and Cali Live '24 helped many in their recruitment during a scholastic setting. Most of all, it gave every player a chance, a fairly equal opportunity to be seen, and that's what the two June live period weekends designed for high school teams are all about. In this report, we'll talk a look at the overall themes of the event.

1. Being A Keen Evaluator Has Never Been More Important
While it's true college coaches don't concentrate on high school underclassmen as much as they once did and juniors don't commit at a high rate, it's also true the evaluations of them are more important than ever. Even if coaches at a certain level know they are not going to successfully recruit a particular player, they have the knowledge a healthy percentage of recruits will eventually end up in the NCAA Transfer Portal. The portal has quickly become its own cottage industry. The key is projecting those transfers portaling up to a higher level or portaling down to the level they should have been recruited at in the first place. The recruiter that knows this will position himself accordingly and foster relationships with players he already knows he won't have on his roster as a freshman. Evaluating a player for what level he'll be recruited is many respects is not as important as what level he'll eventually play at down the line.

2. Being Realistic Has Never Been More Important
We've stressed on this website over the years how important it is for players and parents to have realistic recruiting goals. In a nutshell, players need to get advice from an experienced person who won't benefit if they make it to the NBA or a big-time college and from another veteran observer who won't be hurt emotionally or financially if they don't. (Read that again.). There are many players who play at a level that would have earned them a cinch D1 scholarship 10 years ago that are no longer getting those looks. Those same level of players have to put their ego aside and realize a D2 scholarship is their realistic level and not shun non-D1 colleges. It's all about getting in the system with some legitimate stats and game film (i.e. Synergy). That is the name of the game and a huge part of the recruiting process. Many recruits used to go to the highest level possible, but since the advent of NIL three years ago this July and officially paying college players on the horizon, that is not a financially sound move. It's much more financially advantageous to put up numbers at a lower level and portal up to a school that realizes you can play at a high level. An all-conference level player can potentially earn life-changing money in the current NIL climate.

3. Arizona Hasn't Cooled Down Since COVID-19
It's no secret because of various COVID-19 restrictions along political lines, the state of Arizona has been a hotbed for talent since the outbreak of the pandemic over four years ago. Based on what we saw at Cali Live '24 and Section 7 the week prior, there is no signs of that slowing down. There is no question the Arizona teams part of its state association (AIA) helped make Cali Live '24 a better recruiting atmosphere for college coaches. And with players such as 2027 center Darrius Wabbington of Sunnyslope (Phoenix, Ariz.) and 2028 guard Aiden Diggs of Williams Field (Gilbert, Ariz.) in the fold for the next few years, having Arizona teams as part of the June Scholastic Live Period will be beneficial for any live period event. This doesn't even include all the talent and high major size found at various academy-type programs across the Valley of the Sun. This talent surge has been part of a process that started because of its warm weather and the price of housing in other areas of the region such as Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. There is simply more talent to choose from and college coaches spend more than in the Phoenix metro than ever before.

4. Nothing Beats One-Stop Shopping
Part of the reason for the advent of the June scholastic Live Period was to get high school coaches involved in the recruiting and evaluation process. That is happening and almost all scouts and college coaches are in agreement the scholastic-based evaluation is a key part of the recruiting process. Some felt an actual high school setting with be beneficial to the process, but June evaluation is not a high school playoff game atmosphere. There are no cheerleaders and in some respects the score doesn't matter. It's about getting a good evaluation and venues such as the 12-court Roebbelen Center used for Cali Live '24 is the way to go in the future. College Coaches want to evaluate as many good teams and players as possible without having to get in their car to drive to another gym. Having the best teams' starting times staggered over the course of the day also helps.

5. Nobody Knows The Future
We know Cali Live '25 will be back down in Southern California and it will reportedly be at the Ladera Sports Center in Orange County. Beyond that, however, no one knows what the long-future holds in terms of the NCAA recruiting calendar. We know the NCAA is due to pay out 2.7 billion to former collegiate athletes (which most of the money going to Power 5 football players) if a federal judge approves the terms of the House vs. NCAA antitrust case. If that settlement is not agreed to, the NCAA will have a long road in terms of legal bills and potentially paying out more than 2.7 billion should the case go to trial. The back damages are related to name, image and likeness (NIL) restrictions and we figured the settlement would catch the eyes of older players who feel their basic rights have been violated, too. Sure enough, on June 10, 10 members of the 1983 N.C. State men's basketball NCAA championship team sued the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company for unauthorized NIL use over many years and more recently, members of the 2008 Kansas title team and 16 athletes total joined in a lawsuit on similar grounds. Where does this leave the NCAA? Well, if it has to pay out damages to the N.C. State and Kansas team and other older former NCAA athletes, who knows if the organization will exist its current form five years from now. The whole recruiting industry could look different, but rest assured the recruiting services and major recruiting networks will still function. How the scholastic period and NCAA recruiting calendar looks in five years is difficult to prepare for based on these lawsuits.

Ronnie Flores is the national Grassroots editor of He can be reached atΒ [email protected]. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter:Β @RonMFlores


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