I was as stunned as you when I read the above title, and I’m the one who wrote it!
But this column from the Los Angeles Times, written by Eric Sondheimer, has opened my eyes. In it, he details his recent experience with a series of Las Vegas AAU tournaments. He writes:
Yes, there are benefits to having so many players in one location, but lets stop spreading the false impression to gullible parents that by playing their sons are suddenly going to be on the recruiting radar.Most of the time, college coaches, wearing shirts with school logos and school colors, showed up at games as babysitters, simply letting kids they have been recruiting for months know they support them. Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo watched a game in which Michigan high school players were performing. Louisiana State Coach Trent Johnson watched a game involving a team from New Orleans. Washington Coach Lorenzo Romar watched a team from Seattle. North Carolina Coach Roy Williams watched Tar Heels commit John Henson.As I tell parents every day, serious student-athletes wanting to play in college are going to start contacting coaches their freshman year. Chances are, the coaches who are at your showcase are watching the athletes that have been contacting them. Think about it this way: Would you, as a coach or a recruiter, spend money to travel to a showcase without knowing what kind of talent that’s going to be there? Probably not.Sondheimer details the story of Ray Penn, a guard from Richmond, Texas, who scored more than 35 points in three games during the one of the tournaments. And although he got some phone calls a few days later, they weren’t from the big institutions. As Sondheimer writes:
The problem was, coaches made plans before the tournament about who they would watch, and Penn wasn’t on the agenda.
Here’s another thing. Even if the college notices that you have athletic talent, without contacting them prior:
- they have no idea who you are
- they don’t know what kind of person you are
- they don’t know if your performance that day is consistent or just a fluke
- they don’t know if you’re even interested in their program
What’s the lesson here? “Showcases” aren’t called “Discoveries.” They provide a good opportunity to showcase your skills, but if you haven’t done anything to warrant a college’s attention before the showcase, don’t expect its attention after one.