Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Current State of Girls Basketball Recruiting

#4 posting 8.6.2008
your daily dose of girls basketball news & information

Seashells and Balloons emerges from applying the Coppertone and pruning the Coleus to wax a little bit about the current state of girls basketball recruiting.

Who Holds the Power?

Now that the heat of the AAU summer is beginning to die down, I’ve taken some time to reflect on a couple of things coinciding to make me believe we could be in the dog days of girls basketball recruiting.

We all love the girls’ game….high school, college, WNBA…. that’s why you read this site. Heck, I know several people (even men!) who love women’s college basketball for all the reasons that make it different from the men’s’ game. Players share the ball, the passion seems a bit more pure for the game, less ego, less hairy legs. Okay, you know what they mean. And up until the last year or so, the girls game even seemed different in recruiting.

But several things this summer caught my eye and knitted themselves together in a crazy quilt of omens that made me think we need to keep a watchful eye on what is happening to our favorite sport. And we need to be even more vigilant when it comes to our own girls, and who really holds the power. The most recent omen was a D1 university reneging on their verbal offer to a player here in the Twin Cities. The player had an early verbal, the coaching staff changed, and in a bad sense of timing and bit of cowardice, the new coaching staff reassured early, then waited until the end of the AAU season to call not the player, but her parents. If it would have been me, what would I say? Hopefully the high road Denny Green talked about, but I can’t predict my behavior when it comes to my kids.

Hang with me, but the other omens came from places as far and wide as the days of Henry VIII and Churchill Downs.

Last spring I vowed to take some time to smell the roses after the season. As I kept my promise of trying out new things away from the basketball court, I was struck by a scene in The Other Boleyn Girl where the fate of the sisters was settled by their families and their advisors. Nobody looked out for the daughters….it was all about the family gaining status. Hopefully that doesn’t sound familiar, but I’m not so sure. The whole month of July was tournaments galore. The hopes, dreams and countless sweaty socks and uniforms seemed to weigh just as heavily on the trudging parents as they did on their players. Who’s protecting who?

I found no escape during the Kentucky Derby. As the horses were being saddled in the paddock before the race, one of the announcers went on and on about how big and muscled Eight Belles was for a filly. We heard the decision to run Eight Belles with the “big boys” was made after considering her unusual size and strength….making her more able to compete with the colts. Sadly, we all know that Eight Belles broke down after taking second. All that power maybe being a little too much for her filly-sized ankles. The outcry raged against trainers and owners trying to get the most out of their investment as quickly as possible. In the horse world, show animals are rarely ridden until age three. Most race horses have experienced at least one season by then. The horses don’t have a choice. All they want to do is win and please their owners. Coincidence? I hope not.

Let’s face it, if your kid wants to play college ball, you’ll need to get used to the idea that in most cases, they are going to be owned by someone. It’s up to you to help your kid define to what degree of ownership they are willing to experience. And be realistic as to how well they are equipped to handle it, too. Things are different between D1, DII and DIII . Emphasis varies between the big conferences, the mids and the small leagues. Some schools have tougher academics, and really do put the emphasis on student over athlete. Those are the things that should be decided as a team- the power should still reside with the player and her family.

And as the omens spread out from the telephone lines in Athens Ohio, through the race tracks of Kentucky and even in King Henry’s court, we need to be careful of what is happening to our girls and to the sport we love. Tread carefully. Coaches, players, parents, use your power wisely. And remember, it still is all about the diploma. No, it really is.

Thank you Seashells & Balloons for a timely take on the recruiting battles.

Next up: when news breaks