Just finished the NCAA live recruiting period in the month of July:

  • It’s not what it used to be.  The NCAA now allows 3 four-day recruiting periods in consecutive weeks, from Wednesday at 5:00 to Sunday at 5:00.  When I last left division I 9 years ago, July was a free-for-all, with the recruiting period running from July 6-31 without any dead periods.  That was a lot tougher, because you felt like you couldn’t take any days off without missing something important.  In the current system you get two full days off after each period – the travel can still be tough, but it’s not as bad as it used to be.
  • It’s not what you think.  It’s not just a bunch of coaches sitting in a gym all day watching basketball games.  Well, OK, it is what you think.  That’s exactly what it is – but it’s not as easy as you think.  It wears you out more than you would think, and it’s important to find a time once or twice during the day to take a break.  Most of the tournaments have games that start at 8 AM and run until 11 PM.
  • It’s a great place to learn.  You find yourself sitting with different coaches from all different levels and school throughout the country.  I spent a lot of time this period with Rodney Morton, the head coach at Southern Indiana.  We talked a lot about program culture and approach, and it’s really helpful to learn from a successful head coach with a different perspective.  I found myself next to CJ Lee a bunch, who was just hired by Mike Maker at Marist, and played and worked for John Beilein at Michigan.  It was great to hear his perspective on playing and working for one of the best coaches in the country.  Sitting with coaches from all around the country gives you a great chance to learn.
  • AAU coaches are dedicated people.  Most of these guys are just doing it because they enjoy coaching and are trying to help kids out, and they are traveling with them for weeks at a time to give them the opportunity to play in these tournaments.  They deserve more credit than they get.
  • Evaluating players is not easy.  Trying to determine if someone is good enough for your level and will fit your culture in these tournaments is difficult.  There are so many factors that may affect how a player looks – the competition might not be very good (or might be really good), they play a ton of games in a short period of time, he might be playing with a group he’s not familiar with, and his team likely doesn’t have a lot of practice time.  It takes a lot of time to know for sure on a kid, and you don’t really have a lot of time.
  • A great staff is vital.  Having guys that are comfortable on the road, who really enjoy evaluating talent and who know what fits your culture is crucial.  It’s just impossible for the head coach to get out and watch every kid you are going to recruit, so the assistants can make a big difference.  I realize every day how lucky I am to have the talent on staff at Maine that we have.
  • It’s not that much of a grind.  The travel can be tough (getting home on Sunday was brutal for a lot of coaches because of bad weather in the middle of the country), but overall everything is manageable.  We are sitting in air conditioned gyms (for the most part) watching basketball games.  It can wear you out and it takes some focus, but it’s not exactly hard labor.  We are very lucky to do what we do.