Dueling columns: NCAA recruitment rule

New policy advantageous to young players

Under a new NCAA rule adopted last week, seventh- and eighth-grade male basketball players are now defined as prospective athletes. The old rule stated that any player entering the ninth grade could be considered as a prospective basketball athlete.

While this new rule might sound a little outrageous at first, closer examination will reveal that it was made with good intentions in mind.

The truth is, the greatest young basketball players in the nation were probably already on the radars of top college basketball programs.

Coaches with a limitless amount of resources had the ability to reach out to these players through a variety of different methods, usually by hosting elite, private youth summer basketball camps.

You can see how this was a disadvantage for colleges and universities without the resources of larger, more renowned programs. It was also unfair to the young athletes who were only being presented with a limited amount of options as to where they could continue their careers at the next level.

This rule will clearly fix a number of problems that needed addressing.

The NCAA’s move should allow for more parity in college basketball, as each program will now have, in principle, equal opportunites to recruit these young basketball players.

More importantly, the new rule will protect these young athletes from being unfairly taken advantage of by these select, elite programs. Now the athletes can examine all of their options, taking both athletics and their educational futures into consideration.

There will be those who argue that 12- and 13-year-old boys are far too young to be subjected to the brutal world of collegiate recruiting, and they may be right. But the NCAA is big business, and teams across the country deserve a fair shot at landing a player who can help their program, no matter the player’s age. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s just the way the world works today.

Sports editor Michael Carroll is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Coppell.

Let teenage athletes grow up

Seventh grade is a difficult time for everybody. You are 12 years old and trying to get adjusted to the junior high school lifestyle.

The last thing you need is to have people breathing down your neck about your future.

Well, thanks to an NCAA rule change, that is what is happening to seventh- and eighth-grade boys’ basketball players.

Last week, the NCAA adjusted its definition of a prospective basketball player from any player entering ninth grade to any hoopster starting seventh grade.

I understand their reasoning for it, to keep high-profile coaches from attending elite basketball camps where they begin planting seeds in young athletes’ minds that they have a future at a top-25 basketball program.

But one aspect of the players’ lives NCAA officials are overlooking is the fact they are barely – and in some cases not even – teenagers.

These kids should be listening to Kidz Bop or playing Pokemon. Do kids still play that? They should not be working on their hops and handles until dinner is cold and trying to impress scouts.

It’s unfortunate that the best, most fortunate players get to go to the elite camps, while a kid who could be just as talented but from a broken home doesn’t even have a hoop dream. But that is how the game is played off the court.

And big-name college coaches like Roy Williams at the University of North Carolina and Mike Krzyzewski at Duke University have the resources to scope out these great, young players – sometimes too young – from all around the country, but that is just another game.

Hopefully, if given the chance, these kids will grow up and know what their future will hold come their senior year of high school and pick a college that works best for them, whether they will be fighting to reach the Final Four or studying their butts off to become a doctor or lawyer or business executive.

But they should be given the chance to grow up off the court.

Billy Wessels is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Waxahachie.