On the eve of the first day Class of 2013 recruits could receive calls from college coaches, promising small forward Brannen Greene did everything he could to prepare himself for an onslaught.
He took a lengthy afternoon nap. He skipped an evening workout to conserve energy. And he charged his cell phone to make sure the battery wouldn't run low.
At 12:01 a.m. Wednesday morning, the barrage of calls began when new Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory dialed Greene's cell phone. Soon afterward calls, tweets and Facebook messages poured in from coaches at Florida, Florida State, Xavier and Wake Forest. By the time an exhausted yet excited Greene turned off his phone, shut down his computer and crawled into bed at 2:30 a.m., he had already fielded calls from 24 different coaches.
"It's been really fun and humbling," Greene said the next day. "As soon as 12:01 hit, I got a call and then they just kept coming in. I kept having to tell coaches, 'Hold on, I'll call you right back.' I really didn't think it was going to happen that quickly. It was kind of tiring, but I really enjoyed it."
That dozens of sleep-deprived coaches put in long hours making late-night calls to Class of 2013 prospects rather than waiting until a reasonable hour Wednesday morning illustrates the lengths programs go to land top recruits. Many coaches believe that being among the first to call a prospect is a way of demonstrating to him and his family that he's a top priority.
For Greene's parents, the exhilaration of seeing so many high-profile programs show interest in their son easily outweighed the nuisance of having their phones ringing after midnight. Jeffrey Greene described the night as "humbling and exciting," adding that all the calls and scholarship offers provided validation that his son's dedication on the court and in the classroom hadn't been for nothing.
It's far too early in Brannen's recruitment for him to even have a list of favorite schools, but the 6-foot-7 Forsyth, Ga., resident admits it was meaningful that Gregory fulfilled a previous promise to be the first coach to call at 12:01 a.m.
The barrage of late-night calls prospects receive on the first day of phone contact is hardly a new phenomenon in college basketball, but the increased media coverage of recruiting has shined a spotlight on the trend in recent years.
Familes are split on if it's unnecessarily aggravating or if it adds to the excitement of the recruiting process. Some coaches say it would be pointless to move the start of the phone contact period from midnight to a more convenient hour since the same phenomenon would happen regardless of the time of day.
Memphis coach Josh Pastner and his assistants convened on campus at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night, discussed the order in which they wanted to call recruits based on stature and time zone and then spent the next few hours on the phone with prospects across the country. Although Pastner acknowledges being the first to call seldom will be the decisive factor in landing a recruit, he feels pressure to make the midnight calls each year since he knows his competitors will be.
"It's part of making sure you have all your 'i's' dotted and your 't's' crossed," Pastner said. "It's like in July when you're out recruiting and you've seen a kid so many times that you don't need to evaluate him anymore, but you're there watching him anyway so nobody can say you weren't there."
USC assistant coach Bob Cantu understands the pressure other staffs feel not to let anyone outwork them, but he said the Trojans traditionally have waited until morning to call recruits the first day phone contact is permissible.
For Cantu, being the first coach to show interest in a prospect isn't nearly as important as having the time to talk to him or his family peacefully for 20 minutes. As a result, he'll often wait three or four days after phone contact is allowed before using the USC staff's lone permissible call to a recruit for the month.
"If I was a parent, I wouldn't want my 16-year-old son to be called at midnight by a college coach," Cantu said. "I think there's too much put on being the first one to call. If a player gets 10 calls in an hour, he's probably not going to remember much about all the calls.
"The right thing to do is have respect for the family and make sure you're calling at an appropriate time."
Even though so many coaches called Greene or his father just after midnight, dozens more took Cantu's approach.
Duke's Mike Krzyzewski called at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning. Calls from coaches at Kansas and Louisville came mere minutes later. By 8:30 p.m. Wednesday evening, Jeffrey Greene estimated that in the previous 24 hours, his son had spoken to 70 coaches, many of whom delivered their sales pitch filibuster-style in order to monopolize Brannen's time and keep him from talking to their competitors.
"What you find yourself doing after 10 or 12 minutes is asking if you can give a call back later in the week," Jeffrey Greene said. "You find yourself having to cut the phone calls off. They'd really like for us to talk to them all day and block everyone else out, but we can't do that."
With that, the elder Greene politely excused himself. In just the few minutes he had been on the phone, he had missed three more calls from numbers he didn't recognize and he needed to call those coaches back.