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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday Cardinal Couple -- The recruiting process


- Jenny looks at recruiting.

As Cardinal Couple reported on Monday, Makayla Epps has re-opened her recruitment.   It has also been noted that while reopening her recruitment Louisville is still being considered.  Many people are speculating and offering their opinion about why this has happened.  

All you have to do is go to a Louisville fan/message board to see everyone’s opinion about why this has happened twice now, in the last few months.   Some are suggesting that Epps and Goodin-Rogers are being “recruited over” and were worried about playing time.  Others are suggesting that perhaps something is going on with the program, questioning Coach Walz and his management of the program.   Both of those opinions, and the many variations of those opinions, I believe are completely disrespectful of Coach Walz and his program as well as these players’ talents. 

Let me offer you my opinion about this.  It is an opinion, my opinion.   It is not necessarily the opinion of Cardinal Couple or any of the staff writers.   I cannot pretend to know what has gone on in these young women’s minds.  Again, these are just my opinions. 

Epps and Goodin-Rogers both verbally committed to Louisville on May 31, 2011.  That was the beginning of last summer.  Both of these young women were beginning summer before their junior years in high school, or stated another way, just finished their sophomore year in high school. 

Any readers out there have teenage daughters in their household?  Raise your hand.  If so, would you want your teenage daughter making a major life decision at that young age?  If they did make a major life decision at that tender young age, would you really blame them if they reconsidered?  Quite frankly, I would encourage it, if it were my daughter. 

As fans, we want to know where our favorite players are going to school and who is going to show up donning a Cardinals uniform.  Read any fan board, folks are clamoring at the bit waiting for any big news. 

The NCAA has rules and guidelines about the recruitment of prospective student athletes.  There are rules about coaches communicating, visiting, watching them play, and the lists go on and on.  There is also a process put in place to help the student athlete navigate the recruitment process. 

Prospective student athletes can make any number of visits to colleges of their choices.  These are called unofficial visits.   On an unofficial visit the athletes must pay their own way.  They can make unlimited visits to as many schools as they want.  Unofficial visits.   

Somewhere along the way an athlete will start to make a list of schools that they are potentially interested in.  They will do their homework; decide what they want out of a school as well as an athletic program.  They may even attend a basketball camp being hosted by colleges they are interested in.    At some point their list of suitors has grown.  Also, at some point, they will start to whittle their list of schools they are interested in.  Eventually, they will get to a manageable list. 

In the fall of the student’s senior year in high school they can take an official visit.  Each athlete is allowed 5 official visits.  The school being visited pays for an official visit.  This cannot happen until fall of their senior year.  Official visits. 

Anywhere along the way a student may verbally commit to a program.  A verbal commitment is just that, a verbal commitment.   Nothing is a done deal, for either the student athlete or the college program that is receiving a verbal commitment, until a Letter of Intent (LOI) is signed. 

In November of one’s senior year they are eligible to sign their LOI in the early signing period.  The signing period is over the course of a certain amount of days.  Once that signing period closes, they cannot sign again until April of their senior year.  The April date is considered the regular signing period.    Once a LOI is signed, the student athlete can get out of their agreement only under certain conditions (a coaching change for instance) and often with penalty for doing so (not signing with another school within the same conference is an example of a penalty, or sitting out a year). 

As fans, and as a culture in general, we have grown to be an immediate gratification society.  Fans love early commitments, who wants to wait to hear great news, right? 

I firmly believe early commitments, without following the recruiting process through, can and do lead to exactly this kind of scenario.  That is not to say that all early commitments fall through.  But, early commitments leave both the student athlete and the school's program vulnerable. 

Let’s look at Epps again.  As noted above, she verbally committed at the end of her sophomore year in high school.   A lot can change in a year.  She can grow, add to her strength and conditioning, become a better player, develop a deeper skill set, add to her arsenal of threats on the court.  Epps still had two seasons of summer/AAU ball ahead of her to develop, gain exposure, to have other programs see her, recruiting services rave about the growth in her game, all after she verballed to Louisville.  A lot can change in a year, and in two seasons of summer ball. 

Epps has had a fantastic month of ball so far this evaluation period.  Scouting services are raving about her game, her growth.  There appears to be a buzz about her game.   Look up the recent event in Franklin, TN at The Battle in the Boro.  Epps' stock is rising. 

I can absolutely understand why a teenage girl, in this scenario, may want to explore her options.  I am not saying that is what is going on with Epps, as I have not talked to her.  I do have a teenage daughter though.  I can absolutely see it, and as a parent, understand if not encourage it.   

As a fan, is it a little disappointing?  Sure it is.  Epps has stated she is still interested in Louisville.  That is not to say that she will, or won’t, end up at Louisville.   Only time will tell if she ends up in a Cardinal uniform playing at The YUM!

As a parent of a volleyball player who one day hopes to play on the college level I would like to think I would discourage my daughter from committing too early.  I would want her to explore all of her options.  Part of exploring all of her options, in my opinion, is allowing oneself to go through the entire recruiting process.  I am not pointing fingers or placing blame here.  Just stating what counsel I hope to one day bestow upon my daughter.   

Had my daughter committed early to a program you better believe if there were an inkling of a doubt, the tiniest desire to look around, I absolutely would encourage it.  This is a major life decision.  One must be as certain as they can be. 

I personally do not believe there is anything sinister or awry going on within the Louisville program, nor do I think these talented young recruits doubt their abilities or question their playing time at Louisville.  I firmly believe they are young and made a decision without exploring all of their options. 

While the majority of fans love early commitments I think it is a recipe for exactly what we have going on right now. 

 Look at it another way, do you want your teenage daughter to marry her high school sweetheart, right after graduating?  Absolutely not!  A major life decision deserves the time to explore all options.  Whether it is a life partner or a decision about one's education and future livelihood. It is only fitting though that this is my opinion.  I do, after all, live with a teenage daughter.  

( Wonderful commentary by Jenny today! An old adage reads that everyone wants to see, hear and know about the baby. No one cares about the nine months of labor and the delivery. Recruiting is exactly what the Webster's definition of it is: The process of enrolling members in an organization. The process isn't official until the enrollment is done.)


  1. Great straight forward read on the recruiting process. I could not imagine a situation where my future employment and success was dependent upon decisions made by 15-17 year olds.

    One good change in recent years is the growing abundance of top level players where schools who do not get the 1-10 ranked players still have a great opportunity to recruit and develop a top team.
    And good luck with that daughter.

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    1. Quit being a conspiracy nut, Big Jim. I applaud the good folks at Cardinal Couple for their straight forward, fan based approach toward things and Jenny for her article today.

      -- Joe Hill --

    2. Big Jim dont you realize that alot of people read this board? Coaches, Parents, and kids? You are damaging the recruiting process. Signed Someone who really knows.

    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    4. Big Jim Wrong. I promise you when parents and coaches and especially kids read this stuff about being over recruited, when its the farthest thing from the truth it ticks them off at first the school and the fans. If you ever were to believe anyone on this, I promise you this is a fact.

      Signed Family

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. LOL. Have to agree. Chill, dudes.


  5. Hey Big Jim~
    IF there is something going on with these recruits, and I am on record as saying I do not think there is, the Program could not talk about it and divulge it anyway. Heck, they can not even talk about the kids they ARE recruiting, until the LOI is signed. So, anything that IS out there is opinion and speculation.

    As a fan of the game you know that Walz answers to Tom Jurich. Tom Jurich and Louisville answer to the NCAA. While we may all "want answers" that just is not going to happen because it legally can not happen. We have to trust what the kids and their coaches (high school and AAU) tell us. Expecting anything else is an exercise in futility, I believe.

    1. I get that, Jenny. My take is this...someone "got" to her or one of her coaches. No proof, pure speculation but it's my opinion and I'll stand by it.

      Guess I'm looking for a site or writer that will dig deep and not get caught up in the corporate game. I like your articles, Jenny. You make good points.

      And (to Sonja) I'm as cool as a cucumber in the icebox.

      Big Jim

    2. Whoa there, Big Jim! CARDINAL COUPLE is an independent site and is not "caught up in the corporate game". We do practice moderation, though and aren't a site that grabs a wild theory and runs with it in an out of control fashion.

      Facts are facts. We try to stick with them. It's the right thing to do.


  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. OK, I'm going to finally weigh in on all this (busy day). Discussion is well and good. The bottom line is this:

    We are Cardinal fans (for the most part) who read and comment on this site. We want to do and discuss things that will benefit the program we cheer for in a positive way.

    Basketball players change their minds just like anyone else in life does. We are confident that Ms. Epps will make a decision that is in her best interests. If she becomes a Cardinal...Great!

    If she doesn't we wish her the best of luck in her choice. These young ladies are under a massive amount of scrutiny...much more than the average high school student. Please show them the respect and deference that they've earned because of their incredible talents.

    Thanks for reading CARDINAL COUPLE and we look forward to the start of the fall season of UofL womens' athletics!


    1. Thanks for weighing in, Paul. The lack of UofL women's sporting events has gone everyone stir-crazy and it will be a blessed relief when volleyballs, soccer balls, and basketball start flying again.

      My only comment on recruiting is this. Much-hyped, unpredictable and over-blown. Never forget that TEAMS win games, not top 50 blue-chip recruits. Trust in your coaches and cheer for who he presents to you.

  8. You may notice some deletes here. While we're not normally of the mind to invoke censorship, we have it on good (no great) authority that "Big Jim" is a "troller" of another women's basketball program that came over her to start trouble.

    The sheriff isn't going to put up with any of that, so he's history.

    Please keep in mind that we are fans of women's sports at UofL. We're OK with discussion but please keep it civil, up-lifitng and positive.

    Mean people suck.


  9. Nice Article! Thanks for sharing with us.
    Recruitment Process


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