Basketball Recruiting - Coaches discuss challenges of evaluating via livestreams
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Coaches discuss challenges of evaluating via livestreams

Emoni Bates
Emoni Bates (Brian Neubert/GoldandBlack.com)

This off-season has been unlike anything college basketball coaches have ever seen before. With a dead period in place and no live periods, the only avenue coaches have to watch prospects play right now is through livestreams at certain events.

College basketball coaches at different levels of the sport are adjusting to this unique off-season.

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2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Position

2022 Rankings: Top 75

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Have there been any positives to evaluating prospects through livestreams?

ACC head coach: “I think the biggest positive is some of the kids we’ve been on that we feel like have been under the radar that probably would have blown up in a typical year have stayed under the radar for us, mostly.”

SEC assistant: “It’s really just being able to see guys play that we’re recruiting. It’s the closest thing we can do to being there right now.”

Pac-12 assistant: “There are no positives for us.”

AAC assistant: “It’s been a good way for us to cross guys off our list. Whether they are a priority guy or not can be tough, especially if you’ve never seen them before. But it’s easier to eliminate guys.”

Southern Conference assistant: “Just being able to see the kids play. There are a lot of kids I’m getting to see play for the first time.”

Sun Belt assistant: “I think just seeing basketball again has been good. Seeing guys get up and down has been good. It’s obviously better in person, but this is the best we can do. If you see a kid the first time, it’s hard. If it’s a kid you have seen in person, it’s much easier. It’s definitely hard.”

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What’s been the hardest part?

ACC head coach: “There is nothing like evaluating in person, because you can look at the player’s size, speed, quickness and instincts. The level of competition they are playing against is tougher to judge, too.”

SEC assistant: “The competition hasn’t been that great. Some of the top teams aren’t playing, so it’s hard to judge players based on who they are playing against. We aren’t getting to see guys at the Peach Jam or any of the other circuits.”

Pac-12 assistant: “A lot of kids are getting together with teams they’ve never played with, very little preparation and it turns into pick-up games. It’s hard to get really excited - or really down - on a kid based on those games. It’s nobody’s fault, but it’s what we’re dealing with right now.”

AAC assistant: “Determining size has been tough. Is he 6-foot-7 or is he 6-foot-9? Is he 6-foot-2 or is he legitimately 6-foot-4? That’s really hard to judge. In all honesty, the other hard part has been just being able to focus on watching livestream. It’s one thing when you can talk with other coaches at a tournament. When you’re sitting there by yourself, it’s really hard to get excited watching from a drone view.”

Southern Conference assistant: “Judging size, attitude, body language and then some of the technical difficulties at some events.”

Sun Belt assistant: “The hardest part has been being able to see numbers and figure out who is who. In a normal setting, we’re at the gym and we can go over to the scorer’s table to look at the score sheet. We can’t do that right now. I know football has to go off film, but we’re so used to seeing all these kids in person. It’s been a challenge.”

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What’s the long-term impact of this off-season?

ACC head coach: “I think there is a real possibility they don’t open recruiting until April 2021. There are going to be more mistakes, but I also think if the one-time transfer rule passes in January a lot of that will get corrected.”

SEC assistant: “This 2021 class is going to be really tough. There are going to be guys that slip through the cracks on us.”

AAC assistant: “I think we’re getting ready to see a shift in our calendar. It will be interesting to see what the NBA does and if they shift to a new schedule or if they go back to what they have always done. If they start making Christmas Day the opening day and go into August with the NBA Finals, that could change deadlines for guys declaring, the combine and everything else.”

Southern Conference assistant: “I think it’s going to work two ways. I think you’re going to see kids slip through the cracks and end up at the mid-major schools. There will also be some kids that go to a high-major that shouldn’t go there. There is a little bit of luck involved.”

Sun Belt assistant: “It’s just harder to set your boards and know which kids to recruit. It’s hard to take a kid when you’ve never seen him in person or met him in person. Are you going to make a decision to take a kid when you’ve never seen him in person or met him? We did that in 2020 because the clock was ticking, but it’d be tough to do that for a whole class.”

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If you have never seen a kid play in person or been able to size him up in person, would you feel comfortable offering a kid strictly off what you see on a livestream?

ACC head coach: “If we’ve never seen him in person, he’d have to be really, really good.”

SEC assistant: “If I heard a lot about him and I watched the whole tournament, I think I definitely would be cool with it.”

Pac-12 assistant: “Not really. It would have to be a really special talent for us to do that. We haven’t offered anyone yet based off a livestream game.”

AAC assistant: “Would I feel comfortable? No. Do you have to do it in some cases? Yes. It’s just sort of the rules of engagement right now.”

Southern Conference assistant: “At our level, I think you have to take your shot where you can. If I was at a higher level, I would be way more skeptical offering off a livestream.”

Sun Belt assistant: “For 2021, no. For 2022, no. In 2020 when you were up against time to do it, we did it. There is just so much unknown. What if it opens up in November? If it doesn’t open until April, maybe. The uncertainty is just the hardest part.”