Text me, maybe? College basketball recruiting world shifts with unlimited calling and texting
Graphic by Rich Rezler | AnnArbor.com
By about 12:15 a.m. Friday morning, Bryant McIntosh was completely familiar with college basketball's new reality.
His phone buzzed once. It buzzed twice. It buzzed three times.
Sixteen minutes prior, all three of the late-night text messages the class of 2014 point guard prospect from Greensburg, Ind., received would have been an NCAA violation.
But with the NCAA's deregulation of phone calls, text messages and social media interaction -- everything's fair game now.
All night long.
"I tried to stay up for a little bit, but I eventually fell asleep," said McIntosh, who has drawn the interest of Michigan basketball coach John Beilein and many others. "By 12:15 I had three or four. Then I got another at like 1 a.m.
"Then at 3 a.m., I got a few more. That was weird."
Keep those phones plugged in, guys. This could get interesting.
At midnight on Friday, the NCAA began allowing college basketball coaches to send unlimited text messages and dial an unlimited number of phone calls to prospects who have finished their sophomore year of high school.
In addition, coaches can now contact rising juniors through all forms of social media -- whether it be a private message on Facebook or Twitter.
As is often the case, there are two sides to every story. While some feel this policy could end in disaster, others believe it could be for the best.
AnnArbor.com file photo
But in the end, it seems one old adage holds true here as well.
"It's like anything else," said Mike Mullins, who runs the Illinois Wolves AAU basketball program. "It's appropriate in moderation."
Mullins has been involved with AAU basketball for more than a decade, and has been around the block more than a few times when it comes to the rough and tumble world of college recruiting.
He remembers the ban the NCAA placed on text messaging five years ago, when unlimited data plans were nowhere near as common, and Twitter wasn't nearly as powerful as it is now.
Mullins can understand why the NCAA did what it did in 2007, and now, he also understands why it's lifting the ban.
Most kids tweet. More kids text. And basically everyone has a cellphone.
And, perhaps most importantly, it's something that's become impossible to control.
"This just makes it transparent for everybody," Mullins said. "And the NCAA can't possibly police this."
Mullins coaches one of two class of 2014 players who were formally offered a scholarship by Beilein and the Wolverines on Friday.
Four-star small forward Keita Bates-Diop, a Normal, Ill. product who plays for Mullins' AAU squad, and four-star guard Devin Booker of Moss Point, Miss., both had phone conversations with Beilein and company on Friday, and both pulled down offers -- the first two Michigan has handed out for the 2014 class.
McIntosh also got a call from Michigan. And all three likely heard from a gaggle of other schools, as well, something that likely seemed cool at the time, but could get pretty old fast if it's not kept to a reasonable level.
"In many cases, recruits are about to get inundated with extraneous calls and texts," ESPN lead college basketball recruiting analyst Dave Telep wrote earlier this week. "Let me know the first time a kid commits to a school based on the relationship he formed with a coach from texting.
"Maybe it’ll happen but I’m among the crowd of naysayers who thinks the kid’s privacy will be invaded and the stress of keeping up with the recruitment takes away from novel concepts such as, say, homework or even practice (that’s a topic for another day)."
McIntosh -- who said he received roughly 50 texts, calls or social media messages midway through Friday -- said most coaches were up front about the situation, saying they don't intend to abuse their new power.
Mullins insists it's important for players, parents and youth coaches to have discussions about the situation and set parameters for unlimited contact. He says players need to be up front with schools and let them know when it's OK to reach out, and when it's off limits.
That won't stop all the abusers, but he believes it will curb most of it.
"It's no different than speeding on the highway," he says. "I think everyone will try to find an area that's safe to go through. That's the trial and error. I believe most schools have good intentions, and most families do as well."
Some view the new rules as dangerous, others feel the changes were absolutely necessary given today's mobile communication world.
But no matter what side of the fence certain coaches, players and parents are on, most agree that the new contact rules will allow both schools and prospects alike to reach a better understanding of one another.
Something that could possibly curb the major transfer epidemic that's sweeping the sport.
"You find out more about them, you find out what kind of sense of humor they have," McIntosh said. "I got to know quite a few coaches just Friday, and I'm sure I'll get to know more even better over the next few weeks.
"It'd be a lot harder to do that if you couldn't text, because if two schools call you at the same time -- you can't answer both calls. This makes it easier to get to know people."
It's a brand new world, and one most are approaching with care and controlled skepticism.
Welcome to the digital age, college basketball.
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