Convinced that changes made last year to the format of the July evaluation period place too great a strain on prospects and their families, Arizona coach Sean Miller voiced his displeasure during a 14-tweet rant Monday afternoon.
Miller railed against a format that only allows coaches to watch potential recruits in person at summer grassroots tournaments during three five-day evaluation periods in consecutive weeks in July.
Chief among Miller's complaints was that many families needlessly stay in out-of-state hotels because they either can't afford to fly home between tournaments or don't see a purpose in doing with so little time in between events. Those families who do go home between evaluation periods typically fly to the next out-of-state tournament Tuesday night after not being able to return home from the previous event until Monday morning in case their sons' team advanced to a Sunday night title game.
"I cannot comprehend the rationale of [three five-day] periods," Miller wrote. "For coaches [and] prospects on the West Coast, there is a chance that they could fly to Augusta, Ga., [and] return home, then two days later fly back to Washington D.C. for the next five-day period.
"I invite anyone that created this model to either jump in a van with one of the travel teams for a month or follow me – this makes no sense. As a coach or parent, you can't purchase your departing tickets until after the last day of a tournament in case you make it to the finals. However, if you lose earlier in the tournament [and] then can't afford to go home in between events, you stay in hotels with no games for five days."
From chatting with a handful of high school prospects, parents and AAU coaches the past two Julys, it's abundantly clear Miller is not alone in his distaste for the new format.
Top 10 class of 2014 recruit Stanley Johnson tweeted he was "In ATL bored.." on Sunday after his Oakland Soldiers team was eliminated from the Peach Jam in Augusta the previous day. AAU coach and Pangos All-American camp founder Dinos Trigonis tweeted his agreement with Miller, telling the Arizona coach, "It's about time a major college coach stood up [and] spoke out against a recruiting model that puts the kids last in priority."
Of course, the irony is the NCAA adopted the current format last year in response to complaints about the previous model of two 10-day evaluation periods separated with a week in between. Many coaches felt players were burnt out by the end of both 10-day periods after playing two and three games a day so many days straight, making it more difficult to effectively evaluate the caliber of prospects.
So is there a solution that will satisfy everyone? Miller's idea was to create a 12- to 15-day evaluation period in July with no breaks in between, but frankly that would exacerbate many of the same problems seen under the previous format.
The better solution came from those who suggested spreading the five-day periods out more during July. Portland coach Eric Reveno also offered an interesting proposal, suggesting the NCAA eliminate the evaluation period altogether and instead allot coaches a certain number of days they're allowed to recruit on the road in April and July and let them choose when and where to use them.
Regardless, it's clear this is a topic that needs further study and discussion, this time hopefully with parents of prospects included.
"The smartest idea the NCAA can do to improve so many of these rules is to create a panel consisting of the prospects' parents after they have gone through several summers," Miller tweeted. "Nobody knows better than them."
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