[rl]Our bags are packed, schedules printed off, a notepad full of leads is in hand and anticipation for the spring AAU season. Rivals.com is ready for the next two months of basketball.
Rivals.com will cover The Real Deal on the Hill in Fayetteville, Ark. and the Boo Williams Invitational in Hampton, Va. this weekend, tipping off the all too important spring grassroots schedule. The weekend also begins Rivals.com's unparalleled coverage from the nationally renowned grassroots events.
After seeing nearly all of the five-star players in the class of 2008 this weekend, the calendar takes a quick timeout for next weekend because of the ACT and SAT test.
Things pick up again on the weekend of April 20. Rivals.com will cover the Kingwood Classic in Houston and the Pittsburgh Jam Fest. The following weekend, our team will cover the King James Shooting Stars Classic in Akron, Ohio and the Las Vegas Spring Showcase.
In May, Rivals.com will be at the Jayhawk Invitational in Lawrence, Kansas, the Wallace Prather Memorial in Atlanta, the Arizona Cactus Classic, the Tournament of Champions in Chapel Hill, N.C. and the Nike Memorial Day Classic in Nashville, Tenn. All events in May are closed to Division I college coaches.
The April travel season is proving to be more important than July for college coaches and services like Rivals.com, says national basketball analyst Jerry Meyer.
"The recruiting process has accelerated, making the spring evaluating process even more important," Meyer said. "There just aren't that many discoveries in July. Most of the players are found in the spring. Coaches work the summer trying to secure the commitments so you are seeing July more of a tracking period instead of evaluating period."
Part of the excitement of this year's spring season is the unknown. Because the last two classes produced such talented players, led by Greg Oden and the historic class of 2006, and Michael Beasley and the top-heavy class of 2007, the 2008 and 2009 classes are ready for the big stage.
"Even for scouting purposes for coaches and the ranking services really feel a need to get more familiar with these two classes," Meyer said. "There will probably be a lot of shuffling with the rankings after the spring and coaches are trying to find out they really want to go after."
How will the top 25 players handle being the big dogs on the circuit? Will anyone emerge as a sure-fire five-star prospect? Who will be the biggest surprise? What team will run the table with championships like Kevin Love and the Southern California All-Stars did last year? Can Greg Monroe keep the No. 1 position in the class of 2008?
"Right now he definitely looks like the best prospect but you know guys develop, players emerge and players improve," Meyer said. "So, you know nothing is in stone, that's for sure."
This year's class has the feel of a group of guys with a pick in hand and the motivation to start chiseling away at the stone.
Buckle up. This year should be fun.