Coaches readjust recruiting strategy during dead period
While the cancellation of March Madness was the biggest story in the sport's history, never has recruiting been impacted as greatly in recent memory.
The NCAA announced Friday that all Division I sports would enter a recruiting dead period until April 15. This restricts on-campus and off-campus in-person contact with prospective student-athletes, while phone calls and electronic communication between coaches and eligible recruits is allowed.
So until April 15, at the earliest, coaches nationwide will be forced to search for creative ways to stand out beyond a single recruiting phone call.
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Instead of gearing up for a string of weeks on the recruiting trail in order to complete its 2020 classes, getting a head start on the 2021 class, or bringing prospects to campus for official and unofficial visits, coaches have become sequestered into a more mundane lifestyle.
No gyms. No travel. There is only so much film one coach can watch. How can an industry, driven by creatures of habit, change immediately?
“Creativity will be essential," an ACC program assistant coach said. "It is a great time to really develop genuine relationships. Basketball and our offense seem secondary right now. Find out how they are feeling about life. Also, the kids who are finding ways to get better even though their gym is shut down will let you know who really loves the game.”
Recruits may eventually become tired of the constant phone calls and nagging but an explorative pitch might be the best route to take, a Big 12 program assistant coach said.
“Without having the opportunity to coach our players, or work out with them, it is a great time to sell our style of play, campus life, our head coach, future roster, facility, academic service and our league to our recruits,” he said.
The month of March is usually when less time is geared towards recruiting. Not this time. Instead, coaches can dig deep into newer and better ways of self and program improvement.
“Many times, we are focused on our team so much that we lose a sense in developing ourselves,” an SEC program assistant coach said. “Evaluating what you can do better as a program will be the focus and that starts with figuring out our own current roster.”
Another Pac-12 program assistant coach shared similar sentiments.
“The next few weeks have to start recruiting our own guys on our current roster and continue to calculate how many we are going to try and sign between now and August,” he said. “Once that happens, just stay in contact with the 2020 late signee possibilities and the 2021 priorities.”
Technology improvements have brought better lines of communication that can be used to familiarize coaches with prospects.
“FaceTime will be a huge resource so kids can see campus and the facilities during this time when they can’t come visit, and we can’t visit them,” the Pac-12 coach added.
If there was ever a time for the need of film, it would be now. Games are halted across America and while we have become accustomed to spring breakouts on the travel circuit, instead of it being circuits such as the Nike EYBL or the adidas Gauntlet, it may be the coach’s home office where such an emergence takes place.
“The more high school film out there to watch will be a great evaluation tool that we plan to use,” a Pac-12 assistant coach said.
Such was echoed by Baylor assistant Alvin Brooks on Saturday.
While the basketball world has come to a screeching halt, recruiting never stops.