College coaches not OK with eighth-grade commitments
By Michael Marot
INDIANAPOLIS ó If college basketball coaches have their way, Michael Avery would be the last eighth grader making a college commitment.
The National Association of Basketball Coaches said Thursday it strongly opposes accepting commitments from students who have not yet completed their sophomore season in high school. The decision comes a little more than a month after the 15-year-old Avery said he would attend Kentucky, and cites NCAA rules that prohibit coaches from contacting athletes before mid-June following their sophomore season.
iIf the current rules state coaches cannot offer scholarships or accept commitments from students earlier than June 15 following the conclusion of the sophomore year, it certainly makes sense that this should apply to anyone in lower grades,î said NABC president Tubby Smith in a written statement released by the association.
The board of directors said the decision was made, in part, because younger athletes had not yet demonstrated isufficient academic credentialsî to be admitted to school. The board also acknowledged it was too difficult to project how refined their basketball skills would be by graduation.
College basketball has recently seen an increase in the number of young players making early commitments.
Last year, then-eighth grader Ryan Boatright accepted Tim Floydís offer to play for Southern Cal. In 2006, Floyd also offered a scholarship to eighth grader Dwayne Polee Jr. Both were 14 when the offers were made, and Boatright committed to USC before deciding where he would attend high school.
Averyís decision last month reignited the national debate about how young is too young for coaches to be recruiting players.
Itís not a new phenomenon. Indianapolis native Cordell Passley committed to Tennessee, where his older brother played, during his sophomore season. Eventually, he withdrew the commitment and wound up playing at Vincennes University, a junior college in southeastern Indiana.
And the high-profile early recruitment of former Indiana Mr. Basketball and Hoosiers star Damon Bailey was detailed in a book during the 1980s.
In addition, players such as Derrick Caracter and O.J. Mayo, were invited to national all-star camps as eighth graders.