The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

Hawkeye/HSM Fundraisers
Get the App
Digital Print Edition
The Hawkeye March 2024 issue
1st Amendment Award School
FAPFA award school

Recruiting through middle school

As the old saying goes, “the early bird catches the

worm”. That maxim rings true in the world of

college recruiting, where young athletes are baited

with scholarships based on potential and hype.

Coach Sood shared his opinion on premature

recruiting saying that, “It has been an issue for years.

LeBron James was getting offers in 8th grade. Damon

Bailey, at Indiana in the ’80s, Bobby Knight would

show up at his door.”

Story continues below advertisement

In 2009, the NCAA lowered the recruitment age

of “recruitable” boys basketball prospects from 9th

grade, to 7th grade. The purpose of this new rule is

to create a wider range of boys to choose from as to

keep overzealous coaches from overstepping bounds.

This means that they can be recruited by schools but

with a limited number of phone calls, text messages

and visits.

Before the ruling, 9th graders and on were defined

as prospective athletes. College coaches worked tirelessly

trying to lure young talented athletes to their

schools. Coaches began offering scholarships to middle

school athletes left and right.

Finally, the NCAA felt something had to be done to

prevent these athletes from making premature decisions

regarding their future.

“I remember being an 8th grader and Coach Ottmar

coming to Brier Terrace,” Sood said. “[I’d] remember

seeing those kids coming up to Terrace.”

These student athletes are not fully matured as

individuals, both physically and mentally. DePaul

University recently offered 14-year old Jahlil Okafor

a basketball scholarship.

At 6 feet 7 inches tall, and an ending height expectancy

of 7 feet 3 inches, Okafor still has four years

until graduation day, so DePaul’s premature offer is

unrealistic at this point, if not illegal.

But what happens if he improves dramatically in

high school and wants to play for a top collegiate program?

What if this whole basketball thing does not

play out for Okafor? All of these questions are why

recruiting young athletes could end up having a negative

effect on the athletes themselves.

Okafor is not the only basketball player who hasn’t

reached high school to be recruited. Perry Dozier Jr.,

a diminutive 5’ 6” point guard, is the top-ranked prospect

for the class of 2015.

“There is a difference between

identifying a guy and recruiting

him,” Sood said. “Giving an 8th

grader [scholarship] offers just

sickens me.”

In a few years, recruiters might

enter a kindergarten classroom

and begin seeking out the tallest

and fastest kids. The point here

is, Dozier might be a standout right now but who

knows what will happen between now and the time

he graduates from high school.

Although these recruiting practices are more prevalent

in men’s basketball than in any other sport, they

have trickled their way into the women’s game.

Despite the criticism of recruiting down to middle

school, many college coaches and recruiters believe

that it is simply a sign of the times. Schools such

as Arizona, Arizona State, Southern California,

Kentucky and Maryland are now attempting to lure

middle schoolers.

College recruiters now use a variety of tactics to

track down future stars: elite camps pitting the best

against the best, AAU teams traveling cross-country,

and recruiting websites ranking the cream of the


Apparently, it’s never too early to start young.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
error: Content is protected !!

Comments (0)

All The Hawkeye Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *