Recruiting impacted by COVID-19

Sports

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The coronavirus hasn’t only put a stop to all games and practices, it’s also halted all recruiting for the time being. This is normally a time that, basketball recruiting in particular, heats up. Bret Beherns takes a deeper dive into the impact the standstill is having on the recruiting trail.

Gavin Sullivan still hasn’t opened the jerseys for his Mid Pro Academy teams and it doesn’t look like they’ll be coming out of the box anytime soon. The co-founder, director and coach of the AAU development program has a lot more questions than answers about the future right now.

“We’re all kind of in a sit and wait basis,” he said.

This is usually one of Sullivan’s busiest times of year, leading up to the April and May evaluation periods. The coronavirus pandemic has canceled those events for now, meaning next level high school basketball players that need to be seen by college coaches to earn a scholarship aren’t getting that opportunity.

“I think it makes it harder for everybody. Harder for college coaches, they get less eyes. It’s going to come down to really trusting relationships, trusting what people are saying,” Sullivan said. “I mean everybody tries to sell their kids at some level but it’s those connections that you can rely on. Who’s not over exaggerating where a kids’ level is at and then for the kids, it’s going to be self-driven.”

The Class of 2021 athletes are the most at risk of losing those valuable circuit games. The spring and summer before their senior seasons are some of the most important times in recruiting.

“The longer this lasts, the harder it’s going to be for them and that’s the scary part for those guys right now,” Sullivan said.

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood and his staff are in a similar spot, as they try to fill their recruiting boards. NCAA rules restrict them from any on or off campus visits right now, meaning they can only call, text or send mail until this pandemic clears.

“You know I think it’s to be determined yet if you can convince a kid to come by phone call, but I think it’s a very fluid situation,” Underwood said. “We’ve had a lot of ’21 kids in unofficially and some officially. That’s been a very big positive, they got to see the State Farm Center, they got to see some games.”

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