WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
- 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.
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.)