I have just had the opportunity to complete another round of recruiting in Hoops Dynasty, Tarkanian World and have also just came off the road from recruiting in the AAU circuit. After thinking about it, I found interesting to what degree that WhatIfSports has duplicated the recruiting process to the extent that it can and be fair for a simulation. For this submission, I will analyze the various aspects of the recruitment of prospective student athletes and describe its parallel to HD.
With respect to talent evaluation, this may be where WIS and real life differ. In WIS, the talent is already defined for you. Each coach knows exactly how athletic a player is, how well he rebounds and all other things to that regard. It is up to the individual user to take that information and use it as intelligently as possible. Also, the level of a player is defined as well. However, real talent evaluation is very different.
For those of you who have never been in an AAU gym, imagine a two-tiered gymnasium with multiple courts and chairs lining the walls, filled with coaches from every school you can imagine, from the highest D1, to D3s and NAIAs that most people outside of the profession may never have heard of. Of course, each coach is wearing gear or the color of their respective school. Each coach has either a list of players they brought with them to evaluate or has purchased a guide (a book with every player, coach, team and contact information for every player that will participate) to be able to most efficiently use his or her time. These tournaments usually take place over three to five days. Most coaches stay a maximum of two and then move on to another tournament. Now imagine two ten-day periods over the course of the month of July. That is where most coaches decide what players they will recruit over the course of the next season and also future classes as well. Some AAU tournaments go as low as 12 and under, and coaches watch these players, waiting to find the next program changer.
Upon the actual recruitment of these players, there are some similarities. However, the one thing that WIS can not simulate is the personal relationship that is so important in attempting to recruit a player. When talking to a recruit, how well you click can be so essential to the recruiting process. While facilities, playing time, academics and all other things under the sun can be important, it ultimately comes down to whether or not the recruit really wants to listen to what you have to say. Some are more open than others. For example, the idea of dropdowns in WIS is very true. We offer scholarships to our top players every year, and in 90 percent of the cases, the response we get is, “I am interested, but I am getting some Division I interest, and I’d just like to see how it plays out.” Unlike the game, most coaches stay on top of the recruit, usually calling about once every two to three weeks, just to check to see if that player has a change of heart. Sometimes, it happens around the early signing period, other times it may not happen until June, July, or even August. Obviously, for the purposes of WIS, it makes more sense to have the recruit contact the school when they have dropped. Some recruits will not give a school which they don’t consider “their level” the time of day. And no, for those of you interested, I have never gotten any response close to the infamous “SHHHHBang.” Though, there are some very interesting personalities; one of my former recruits used to call me when there was a good NBA game, and he’d ask me if I was watching the game.
Usually, recruiting is a fun process, and most of the recruits are enjoyable to get to know; Whether or not you sign them, you at least feel as a coach that you gave a good kid a viable option to obtain their education. The key really comes down to a great relationship between the recruit, the high school or AAU coach and the college coach. Obviously, each school and level has its own challenge. Division III for example, does not actually give athletic scholarships. In Division I, for a JC player to be eligible, he actually has to graduate JC. If he doesn’t, he may only be eligible for Division II or not at all in the NCAA.
NCAA rules dictate that a coach are only permitted three contacts (for the purpose of this game, assume contact means home visit), so the idea of dumping twenty home visits is inaccurate. However, coaches at the highest level fly on private jets to see their top recruits play a high school game. At their game, a coach may not speak to the recruit, but all coaches know how to make sure that their recruit sees them after the game. There is no way of differentiating, other than money spent and prestige, which is a way WIS must differ. It would be incredibly difficult for WIS to go EA sports and designate pitches and ratings of academics and facilities. Also, a school is permitted to provide one official visit, and each recruit is allowed to take up to five official visits. A recruit may take unofficial visits as well. The difference is that on an unofficial visit, the school is only allowed to pay for one meal; on an official, the school may provide transportation and may provide reasonable meals and entertainment. Both are key to the recruitment and interest of a prospective student athlete.
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