Dallas Morning News article re Portal and Recruiting

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May 26, 2008
Dallas, Texas
Portal Creates Pain for High School Recruits by Mylah Taylor

One of the biggest stories from the 2024 NCAA men’s basketball tournament was Oakland’s 80-76 first round win over blue-blood Kentucky. Jack Gohlke, a graduate student, hit 10 threes in the upset. Gohlke spent five years in Division II before transferring to Oakland.

North Crowley boys basketball coach Tommy Brakel paid attention to what Kentucky coach John Calipari said after the loss.

“He said, ‘We’re going to step back and look and see if we’re doing this the right way,’” Brakel said. “Why? Because he had a couple of McDonald’s All-American freshmen not pull through in the biggest moments and he had a fifth-year Division II guard hit 10 threes on him.”

College coaches have recognized that young high school recruits may not help them meet the goals expected of them. That pressure to win has limited the opportunities for high school prospects hoping for college offers.

The NCAA transfer portal and the additional years of eligibility granted to college athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic have complicated the high school recruiting process. Coaches have advocated for players with less success in an era where acquiring fresh high school talent, barring highly touted prospects, is not a priority for recruiters seeking veteran athletes from the portal who could make an immediate impact.

“‘Coach, we’re not recruiting any high school kids at all this year,’” Brakel recalled one recruiter telling him.

While more scholarships are available for high school football players, recruiting traffic hasn’t necessarily been high. North Crowley football coach Ray Gates hosted an unsigned senior showcase event in late January, about three months out from Monday, April 1, the last signing day for Division I football. Gates said more than 300 kids signed up.

The portal and the pandemic changed everything. “Those things in conjunction have made it more difficult for high school kids to get opportunities,” Hurst L.D. Bell football coach TJ Dibble said. “Not just at the Division I level, but there’s been a trickle-down effect all the way through Division III, NAIA. And there’s a significant impact at junior colleges. This year seems like it’s harder than it ever has been.”

The NCAA transfer portal database launched in October 2018. After an athlete enters the portal, schools can contact them without restrictions. More than 2,000 FBS football players entered the transfer portal during the 2023-24 cycle, according to On3 Sports. In 2023, 1,815 basketball players entered the portal, FloHoops reports.

The demand for top high school prospects will persist, but acquiring those kids can be a gamble. High school athletes could underperform or transfer before earning playing time. Elite boys basketball players, in particular, could play one season of college ball before leaving for the NBA.

“Why go get a high school guy that’s unproven when you can go get a college guy that’s got tape of him playing against college teams?” Rockwall boys basketball coach Quincy Williams said. “They’re just doing what the system allows, so we just have to have a tweak in the system to get these kids that are being passed over … to be able to have an avenue to get there.”

Before the portal, the types of high school players who aren’t receiving interest would have had more options, Plano East boys basketball coach Matt Wester said. His former athletes who have played Division I hoops were equal to, or in some cases, less talented than the kids who became undefeated state champions in March, Wester said.

The most sought out high school players sign in November before college coaches know who will enter the portal. After that, Wester said, bigger programs stop recruiting and look to the portal to fill holes before attempting to backfill with high school players.

“Right at the end of the season when we were having success, we started getting more traffic with recruiting,” Wester said. “My understanding is that some of it was, ‘I know this kid is going to leave. He’s been unhappy. He told us he’s going to leave. Now we have a spot.’”

One of his players is in limbo, waiting to see if colleges will show interest after the basketball spring portal window closes May 1. May 15 is the last signing date for Division I basketball.

“The recruitment process is an incredibly difficult process to begin with. Just not knowing where you’re going to school next year. Not really understanding why people like this kid and not you,” Wester said. “[The current system] has made it a lot worse for them because there’s fewer opportunities.”

Brakel said he educates athletes and their families about the state of recruiting, ensuring they know the process is different.

Three of his former athletes played Division I basketball this year. One went the traditional route.

“The other two? I bet you they had four stops along the way and this was their first year playing Division I basketball,” Brakel said. “All three very successful. All three completely different paths.”

It’s led to talented high school players ending up at programs where they’re somewhat overqualified, both basketball and football coaches said.

“[The portal] has basically pushed Power Five athletes to the Group of Five programs [and] Group of Five athletes to FCS/D1-AA programs,” Mansfield Timberview offensive coordinator Guy Humes said. “This continues all the way down to Division II and NAIA.”

Prestonwood Christian boys basketball coach Jeff Clarkson said two former players had the potential to play at least Division II, but instead went to post-graduate prep schools.

“That just gives you another year to develop and become one of those older, more experienced guys,” he said.

Many coaches said they hope high school recruiting will improve when athletes’ COVID-19 eligibility expires. Brakel said he could see the NCAA strengthening its portal rules, but he realizes it might be difficult.

“It’s hard to ever take rights or privileges away from somebody after they’ve been granted,” he said. “Once you have relaxed the process, boy it’s hard to tighten it back up.”
Nov 26, 2010
Power 5 coaches can look at players who are 16 and recruit them based on them playing other 16 year olds, Or look at players who are 20 who have been playing 18-22 year olds in the competitive college atmosphere.

Mid Majors are becoming the new HS for top programs to recruit from.
Apr 14, 2022
It will be interesting to see if the last COVID year creates a temporary higher demand.
In sports like softball where many do not get full scholarship, it may stay brutal as I imagine most transfer results in net loss of scholarships available.

Edit added not.
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Apr 20, 2018
NCAA rule officials have little foresight and are dumber than a bag of hammers.
Even if they were to recognize their error it would take 3 or 4 years to implement any change. Go Unions! Force their hand.
May 24, 2021
Saw this Camp post recently and thinking they really want players that they think can help them win now!

Event Description​

This Pitt Softball Camp is for girls in the 8th grade and older, Juco’s, and transfers. Learn and grow your game with the Pitt Softball Coaching Staff & Student Athletes! The camp will teach all the skills, strategies, and drills to help players reach their softball goals. The camp will also involve applying these skills in game situations. All aspects of softball, including pitching, catching, fielding, and the mechanics and mental approach to hitting, will be covered.
Wednesday, July 17th 2024
Open to any & all girls 8th grade and older
30 Campers (6 Pitchers, 4 Catchers, 12 Infielders, 8 Outfielders)


DFP Vendor
Jun 29, 2021
The rules for Covid and the portal have been horrible for younger HS players. Why invest four years in a girl when you can get her for a year or two? I get that it's a results driven business, but let's call it what it is: a business. Let's not pretend this is about academics for these P5 programs. As bad as it is with softball, I can imagine it's so much worse with football and basketball.

UCLA had a girl last year who graduated from HS in 2016. Due to red-shirt rules and Covid years, she was still playing college softball when her contemporaries likely graduated from college in 2020. Don't try and tell me she was there for the education. The problem is the NCAA allows it, so these people take advantage of a broken system, and it's the younger girls who get screwed.

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