A New Season Begins
April 9, 2009
By Lara Boyko
Special to NCAA.com
The 2008-09 season may be officially over now as the confetti and streamers are being cleaned up from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis and as fans and teams alike officially start their post-season hibernation today, but another season is in full speed in the world of women’s basketball – the recruiting season.
“Recruiting is a year-round event, but after the Final Four games, we are allowed to start placing phone calls to our junior prospects,” said Long Beach State coach Jody Wynn, who oversaw recruiting while part of the University of Southern California coaching staff from 2004-09. “We begin the club scene in the middle of April where there is a three-day viewing period (spring viewing period) where coaches can go out and watch kids play on their club teams in various tournaments.”
After this viewing period, coaches then have some down time in the recruiting process as they are not allowed to go out and watch high school junior and senior level recruits play (freshmen and sophomores are only allowed to receive questionnaires and camp brochures). Instead, coaches are allowed to call junior level recruits once in May, once between June 1-20, once more from June 21-30 and three times during the month of July. Senior level players may receive one call per week from an interested coach.
Once July rolls around, the only down time in the recruiting process may be when coaches are asleep.
“We can’t see the kids play again until around July 6,” said Wynn, who also experienced the recruiting game from the player’s point of view when she earned CIF Southern Section and Orange County Player of the Year accolades in 1991 and 1992 while at Brea-Olinda High School. “We have two weeks in July where we are out and then we dead period (a week off). After this week off we are back out again watching kids play in club team tournaments in the final week of July.”
During August coaches are not allowed to go out to watch recruits. However, with their own players reporting after the summer break and getting ready for their fall training schedule, this is anything but a dead month.
College coaches use August to get ready for the hustle of the recruiting season for the incoming junior class of the high school recruits. From having the floodgates of the juniors who are now eligible to be contacted by coaches, to how to utilize their 100 recruiting-person days during the academic year evaluation period, maximum five recruiting opportunities (contacts and evaluations combined), maximum three off-campus contacts all while keeping in mind the practice or competition site restrictions so they can get to know their recruits better.
According to the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Recruiting Off-Campus Recruiting Guide effective August 1, 2007, junior level players can start receiving recruiting materials on September 1 while senior level players can start making official visits to schools.
“It is in September when we start going out to the high schools to do evaluations,” said Wynn. “We have to space out the times where we can go see the high school players because we only have five evaluation periods during the year. July is excluded in these evaluation periods so during this month, we can go out and follow a player throughout the month. From September 1 of their junior year is when we can start contacting them via air mail, email and all throughout their junior year.”
The evaluation period is defined by the NCAA Division I Manual (section 13.02.4.2) as a period of time when coaches are allowed to be involved in off-campus activities to assess qualifications and playing ability without making contact with the prospective student-athlete.
After the September viewing period, coaches then have another viewing period where they can keep on eye on their prospects.
“There is also a club viewing period during the first week of October (fall viewing period) where, like in April, coaches will travel to various events so they can watch their top prospects play in the top club tournaments,” said Wynn.
November and December finds coaches beginning their pre-season action, but also strategizing which high school games they want to see.
“Through the spring, summer and fall where we see kids play in the best tournaments is when we do most of our evaluating to determine who we are going to go watch during their high school season,” said Wynn. “We may have a lead on a kid who plays for a certain school and will go out to see them play, but with the level we are at, we will not go to a random high school game where we have no idea who is playing on the teams.”
While a majority of the players who get recruited to play at the Division I level do play on club teams and are seen at club tournaments, there are still ways for players to stand out even with just playing on their high school team.
“Every day we receive mail from between 5-to-10 prospects from all over the country,” said Wynn. “This mail is in the form of player profiles, DVDs of highlight reels or letters saying they are interested in the university and us requesting that we evaluate them. These are kids who may not have been evaluated by schools that they wish to attend, so they contact the schools themselves. The higher profile kids do not contact schools as they are usually being recruited and will correspond with us during their junior year if they are interested in us.”
January is not only the beginning of a new calendar year, but also the start of the high school conference season, which coaches juggle with their own team’s schedule.
“High schools finish in late February or early March so the next time we will see them is in the middle of April during their club tournaments,” said Wynn.
With the recruiting calendar being so complex, it’s no surprise that the NCAA makes sure college coaches are on their game during the recruiting season each year.
“We are tested every year, usually in June, by the NCAA and we have to pass it before we can go out to do recruiting,” said Wynn. “Every coach on the staff has to take the test and while there are general rules that go across every sport, every sport also has sport-specific rules. For instance, we have different rules than the men’s basketball team has. A sport specific rule for women’s basketball is in how our evaluation periods and contact periods are different from men’s basketball.”
For more information on recruiting guidelines, please visit NCAA.org.