Summer basketball season for high school stars will tip off in Las Vegas on Friday as healthy as it has been in years.
But change could be on the horizon.
The NCAA is studying summer recruiting while it considers altering its men’s basketball rules to shorten the July evaluation period, possibly affecting Las Vegas in years to come.
“Coaches aren’t thrilled with being on the road all July, particularly at a time when athletes are in summer school and incoming athletes are coming in,” said Jon Steinbrecher, a member of the Division I Men’s Basketball Issues Committee and commissioner of the Mid-American Conference. “You can see a lot of kids in a compact period of time, but it takes you off campus. It won’t surprise me if we narrow the window a little bit.”
College coaches currently are allowed to evaluate prospects from July 6 to 15 and July 22 to 31.
The Conference Commissioners Association voted last year to recommend that the NCAA eliminate July recruiting entirely, but it’s more likely that the two 10-day periods in July will be reduced.
The Division I Leadership Council will meet in August, and a vote on the issue could come by January.
“Reduction of July is on the table,” said Paul Kowalczyk, a member of the leadership council and athletic director at Colorado State. “Everybody feels that’s a valuable time, but July becomes a grind. We heard from coaches at the Final Four, that by the time July ends, they’re wasted.”
More than 230 NCAA-approved tournaments and showcases are sprawled across the nation in July, including three marquee boys tournaments this week in Las Vegas.
Critics of the summer circuit say that an excess of somewhat meaningless games leads to unnecessary fatigue, injuries and bad basketball.
“More injuries occur, kids are tired, and they want to go home,” said Floyd Kerr, a member of the issues committee and athletic director at Morgan State. “But (kids) feel they have to be there because the college coaches and scouting services are there.”
However, Kerr said a positive of the tournaments is that midmajor programs such as Morgan State have a better chance to evaluate recruits. Fewer prospects will be missed, and colleges are less likely to sign busts.
“Coaches in our league would be against” cutting July recruiting, Kerr said. “This is a big time of year for them.”
In the meantime, thousands of players will be featured in hundreds of games at local gyms this week.
The adidas Super 64, headquartered at Rancho, will run Friday through Tuesday for boys and Friday through Sunday for girls. The boys field will feature Shabazz Muhammad, who is playing again for California-based Dream Vision 17s.
Muhammad, who will be a senior swingman at Bishop Gorman next season, is widely considered the nation’s top prospect in the class of 2012.
The Las Vegas Fab 48 boys tournament, headquartered at Gorman, will run Friday through Monday.
A new tournament, Las Vegas Live, will run Friday through Tuesday for boys and girls with headquarters at Durango.
The All-American Junior College Showcase is slated for Saturday and Sunday at Impact Academy.