NCAA rule changes could hurt smaller schools

The little guy, predictably, was forgotten.

Lost amidst the hailstorm of criticism aimed at the NCAA in the wake of rule changes made to erase or at least reduce corruption in college basketball was the new recruiting model that eliminates two of three AAU-run live period weekends in July when coaches watch prospects.

Yes, allowing players to be represented by agents and to return to school if they go undrafted was significant, even if the collegiate governing body’s refusal to stray from it’s archaic amateurism model won’t solve the pay-for-play problem.

But the best of the best are still taken care of, the blue-blood programs and the five-star recruits who frequent those schools. The lesser players, the unheralded ones, lose out. They now have one five-day block in July to impress coaches in AAU-run events, instead of 15 days across the month.

There will be a second live period in July for college coaches, but instead of AAU tournaments sponsored by sneakers companies along with other smaller events, it will be four regional NCAA youth development camps that will be a collaboration between the NCAA, USA Basketball, the NBA and NBPA. While there will be two additional weekends in June to recruit at high school or scholastic events for college coaches, it remains uncertain what junior college and prep-schools kids can do to be seen in that month. Coaches can also now attend the NBAPA Top 100 camp in June as well.

That’s good news for the Dukes, Kentuckys and North Carolinas, but insignificant for the majority.

“They’re caring about the 1 percent of the 1 percent,” national recruiting analyst Corey Evans said in a phone interview. “This industry, this entire sport, it’s made by the 99.9 percent. I get you want to sell and take care of the elite stars, but the elite talent is nothing without the role guys or the low-majors.”

Jay David, an AAU coach with the New York Jayhawks, has seen what these tournaments mean to a kid. One example he pointed to was Charles Pride, an unheralded guard from upstate Liverpool, N.Y. He entered the AAU season an unknown, without any scholarship offers and very little interest. By the end of it, schools such as Manhattan, Rider and Weber State had offered him a full ride after seeing him in smaller events.

“Nobody would’ve known about him,” David said.

Though it is still uncertain how the players for the NCAA development camps in July will be chosen, one mid-major coach doesn’t get how it can help them. Those camps would almost certainly be composed of the best prospects. And if lower-level coaches have a say in what kids are selected for the camps, why would they want one of their targets invited, so a higher-profile program can snatch them?

“If I’m at Manhattan, LIU, St. Francis Brooklyn, that does me no good,” the coach said.

A low-major head coach actually likes the new rules, because he believes it favors coaches like him. Rather than worrying through July about one of his targets blowing up and landing high-major offers, he has only five days to play defense. Big schools have far less time to evaluate.

“That likelihood [of a kid blowing up] has gone down a great deal,” the coach said. “You have to be seen by the right person on the right platform, and you have to have the right opportunity and have the right game,” Evans said.

In other words, a lot has to go right. The new rules don’t seem to help the under-the-radar kid. In fact, it may lead to even more players switching colleges after being seen less and their true talent being inadequately judged.

“Now there are worse evaluations from every level,” Evans said.

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