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When it comes to basketball recruiting, limits are so yesterday's news. Coaches and recruits can phone and text each other to their hearts content, and restrictions are left to common sense. Yes, V.J. Beachem said, that's a very good thing.
“It keeps players and coaches in better communication,” the New Haven standout said. “It's definitely good.
“Of course, sometimes they could blow you up too much, but I don't think that will happen.”
Or, as Indianapolis Cathedral standout Collin Hartman says, “I love it.”
Welcome to a brave new college basketball recruiting world where technology rules, communication thrives and enforcement centers on primary rather than secondary issues.
In other words, with cellphones as common as summer heat, lighten up and just sweat the big stuff.
New rules went into effect Friday that allow unlimited phone calls and texts between coaches and recruits who have finished or are finishing up their sophomore seasons. The goal is to emphasize relationship building between coaches and recruits and, perhaps, limit the recruiting influences of third parties.
Coaches took instant advantage. Beachem, a senior to be who has committed to Notre Dame, got a call from head coach Mike Brey and a text from assistant coach Anthony Soloman on Friday.
“Normally I wouldn't have heard from them,” Beachem said.
Coaches can also use social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to privately communicate with recruits. Public messages on social media are still banned because NCAA rules prohibit schools from publicizing their recruiting efforts.
In other words, Brey can't tweet about or make a Facebook post about Beachem until Beachem signs a national letter intent in November.
The same is true for IU coach Tom Crean. He can't go public about any of the players he's recruiting, including Class of 2013 commitments Hartman and Devin Davis of Warren Central. But he can contact them, and he did. For instance, Crean and assistant coach Tim Buckley called Hartman on Friday. Crean also contacted Davis the same day.
“They were casual conversations and basketball conversations about what's expected from me in the future,” Hartman said.
Rules that restricted calls and texts were designed to prevent coaches from overwhelming recruits with messages. But the monitoring put a heavy burden on schools' compliance departments and were hard to enforce, especially with the rise in social media and proliferation of cellphones (does a teenager without a cellphone exist anymore?). West Virginia coach Bob Huggins compared the difficulty to that faced by officials during Prohibition.
That didn't work so well, either.
The NCAA Division I Leadership Council, with strong support from the National Association of Basketball Coaches, proposed a change after a year of study. It was passed in October.
Mike Alden, the Missouri athletic director and chairman of the Leadership Council, said coaches need to be able to build “solid relationships” with recruits “earlier and more often.” He also said the council would monitor the change to see its effect.
For Hartman the effect is faster improvement.
“You get constant constructive criticism to where you are in your game. You're always working on your game, and this way you can find out new drills and new things to do. You can ask them at any time. Send a text and go on with your day. I wish it had been this way from the start.”
Davis agreed. He said he got a text from Crean on Friday. It referred to Davis' unofficial visit last week.
“He texted me that he was happy to have me down,” Davis said. “I think this is all a good thing. It makes it easier to get an early relationship with the head coach and the assistant coaches.”
It's possible committed recruits could get calls and texts from other coaches hoping to change the players' minds, but that's more a problem for football (although ex-Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson did swoop in late to take guard Eric Gordon away from Illinois a few years ago). Davis, who committed to IU in November 2010, said that hasn't happened to him. It doesn't matter, he added, because his commitment is firm.
The rule change comes four years too late for Sampson, whose excessive recruiting phone calling caused him to be sanctioned at Oklahoma and then forced out at IU. He's now an assistant coach in the NBA.
The council also passed new rules allowing a limited number of April evaluation events where coaches can watch recruits play but not contact them, and it limited the number of July evaluation periods to three four-day periods.
Also, official visits can now start Jan. 1 of a prospect's high school junior year, instead of the fall of a senior year, with schools able to pay travel expenses for the recruit and a parent/guardian. Coaches also can have some contact with a recruit at his high school during his junior year as part of an evaluation.
All this change and contact, Beachem said, won't detract from what matters most -- getting better.
“I'm working on becoming an overall well-rounded player. I want to do everything.”