NABC: No more eighth-graders

The National Association of Basketball Coaches has come out strongly opposed to recruiting any more players who have not completed their sophomore season of high school. This latest ‘dust up’ is happening because of the recent early commitment of Michael Avery (6’4″, 2012) to Kentucky. Adding to the mix is that the NABC president is former Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith:

“If the current rules state coaches cannot offer scholarships or accept commitments from students earlier than June 15 following the conclusion of the sophomore year, it certainly makes sense that this should apply to anyone in lower grades,” said NABC president Tubby Smith in a written statement released by the association.

The saga of Michael Avery is one where coach Billy Gillespie may look like a genius or have made an infamous legend out of his career. Michael apparently go an offer after Gillespie had barely seen him play:

“Michael came off the bench each half and had a good game against some really good competition. From what I understand, he displayed a total skill set and the basketball IQ to know when and where to use that skill set within the context of the game. I think that’s what really impressed coach Gillispie.”

Recruiting is a tough game and coaches like Gillespie are trying to secure talent any way they can. However, it seems rare that any coach would take a chance on someone so young, and seems a detriment to the player’s options and development. Additionally, players in high school are teens, and still developing. Many players are still maturing all through their teen years and to offer a player so early seems very risky.

Consider the case of one Russell Westbrook, where our pal Randy has written this outstanding post about the UCLA guard who is considered a lock for the first round of the NBA draft, but could not dunk a basketball until he was 17. Several top programs completely missed the boat on Westbrook:

Actually, about two years ago, you were more likely to hear him called “Russell Who?” than Russell Westbrook. Or maybe you’d hear him called “That New Guy.” Or “That Dude Who Got an Offer only Because Jordan Farmar Left for the NBA.”

Chime in one this. I’d love to hear from fans about how they feel in the recruitment of fourteen year old players.

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