Now that the spring and summer recruiting periods have officially ended, I figured I'd chime in with a few random thoughts on what I saw during my 1st year of seriously following the 2nd season.
If Nate Wolters (St. Cloud Tech) wasn't already on the radar, he should be now. I didn't have the chance to him play in person during the regular season and I haven't watched the state semifinal yet, so this summer was my 1st exposure to him. It was his defense, in particular vs Mike Felt in the Sabes Invitational, that really stuck out to me. I think he'll be a real nice mid-major D1 find for somebody. Other players that jumped on to my radar screen during the summer. Eric Olson (Buffalo, MN Fury 17s), Max Rosenbloom (Johnson, 43 Hoops Harris 16s), Marshall Bjorklund (Sibley East, Magic Elite 16s), Ethan Petrill (Shakopee, Magic Elite 15s), Alex Richter (Lakeville South, MN Heat Elite 15s)
Officiating. I didn't see a coach get tossed at all during the regular season and I saw 3 get tossed during local summer play. (Note: I'm not counting the DLS incident during the sections semis since I wasn't there). Not to mention seeing officials getting into it with fans which I have a huge problem with. I know there's fewer people and closer proximity which leads to a higher chance of this happening, but like the coaches and fans the officials also need to realize that this is for the kids. Also, these officials do a ton of games in 1 day. Bob Knight has talked about college officials doing too many games in a week and I think that's a fair comparison here. Very tall task for anyone to take on.
Scorekeeping. This is a real pet peeve of mine. There were far too many mistakes with the clock, fouls and especially the score in every local event I attended. It's amazing to see all the hard work that goes into putting these events together only to have people at the table who aren't paying attention by talking on cell phones, talking to each other etc etc. That really ruins it. I'm of the thought that we should mandate that basketball savvy adults be at the table.
Loyalty. Who's playing who here. Guys jumping from 1 team to another every week. From Rodney Williams jumping for the State AAU tournament to Raymond Cowles being done for the summer long ago and then all of a sudden showing up with Howard Pulley last week after being a Net Gain player in the spring. Not to mention conflicts with high school teams pulling kids for their events. I don't have a better solution. I don't fault a player for wanting more exposure during the recruiting periods. I don't blame the teams for taking these players in to fill the spots that they lost (see Rodney Williams for Carlos Emory at the State AAU tournament and Cowles last week as Pulley had to mix and match to put a roster together). Call me old fashioned as I think committing to a team actually means something. Does it send the wrong message to the kids to allow them to jump around? All this work for a scholarship which is a huge deal, but at some point aren't we also teaching life skills. I think there's plenty of room to have a system where the high school guys can have their time and the colleges can have their viewing time with the summer teams playing for them to watch and the kids are shown a better example.
Coaches. The coaches have an amazingly tough job. Travel, limited practice time, roster shuffling, dealing with colleges etc all make for some real difficult challenges. I had the great pleasure of watching the Magic 15 Elites practice this summer. To see for myself the very limited time that the coaches have to put in basic offense and defense let alone all of the other basics you need (ex: press break, inbound plays) just to have a chance in any game you play was really eye opening. Guys like Ben Davis (MN Fury 17s and MN Fury South 16s), Andy Birdsong (Mpls Redhawks 16s) and Jake Phillips (MN Magic Black 16s) all did terrific jobs with their teams this summer just to name a few.
Royce White. I hesitate to comment on this as I didn't see the event. It bothered me to see him get tossed from a Pulley Pro Am game. I'm all for giving anyone, especially kids, a second chance. When I look at his track record on and off the court from last season thru this summer season culminating with this ejection, that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I don't feel he's yet taken advantage of the extra chances he's been given. I don't know him and he may be a wonderful person. I give him credit for coming out with a good public face and saying the right things. That's a good start. Its my hope that this upcoming high school season and the people around him help him continue to grow and move beyond these events to help his success down the road in basketball and in life.