As most high school basketball coaches and players will tell you, summer is not necessarily a down time for their sport, despite the regular season and playoffs taking place almost entirely in the winter.
That is particularly true for players looking to showcase their talents to college coaches in hopes of catching the eye of on that might give them a chance to play at the next level.
Those opportunities have been somewhat limited in the past, though a change in NCAA rules last year with regard to the evaluation period that came following a committee led by former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Condaleeza Rice has helped better define and increase those opportunities.
Two of those expanded opportunities will be taking place in metro Atlanta over the next two weeks with the #NCAAGeorgia/GHSA Team and Top 100 individual boys camps.
The former runs Friday through Sunday at Marietta, McEachern and Wheeler high schools in Cobb County, and the latter will be June 28-29 at McEachern, though both also will have a distinct Gwinnett County influence.
Norcross boys head coach Jesse McMillan has been one of the more vocal proponents for reform in the evaluation period in recent years, and is one of a group of coaches from around Georgia that took the initiative to set up the two camps with cooperation with the NCAA and the Georgia High School Association.
“Back in August when the NCAA and the Rice Committee made their decision to do (the evaluation period) this way, several coaches, including myself, around the metro Atlanta area were trading phone calls and talking at the time to get a feel for it,” McMillan said. “There wasn’t a ton of information out at the time. Even the state associations didn’t know a ton. So basically, we self-organized back (last) August and late September. The group of people who wanted to be involved continued to grow and chance, and people were able to commit time and others were not.
“We ultimately formed a committee of around 15 coaches from around the state of Georgia, … and when we communicated with the Georgia High School (Association) and more information became available, they allowed us to have the freedom to build it and run it. So we, obviously, are mandated by the things that the (GHSA) gave us, but they’ve given us a lot of control to build it the way they want to. So it’s been really nice, and it’s allowed the coaching committee to get a better feel for things that the (GHSA) has to pay attention to and vice versa. They’ve been able to see us in a different way, as well. So it’s worked for both organizations.”
While no one will know for sure until this weekend, it appears the new camps are being well received.
The team camps will include 150 teams from around the state, including Gwinnett teams Archer, Brookwood, Buford, Collins Hill, Dacula, Discovery, GAC, Grayson, Hebron Christian, Lanier, Meadowcreek, Mill Creek, Mountain View, Norcross, North Gwinnett, Parkview, Peachtree Ridge, Shiloh and South Gwinnett.
Meanwhile, the Top 100 individual camp next week will include some of the top players in Georgia, such as Discovery’s Jaden Walker, Grayson’s Deivon Smith and Ian Schieffelin, recent Grayson transfers Caleb Murphy and Toneari Lane, Dacula’s Quincy Ademokoya, recent Buford transfer James Munlyn Jr. and Norcross’ Jaden Harris, among others.
McMillan is excited about the opportunity for a large number of players to be seen directly by college coaches because of the two camps.
“The biggest thing is just providing an opportunity for the players to be see and be evaluated,” McMIllan said. “I don’t think there’s any perfect solution to the evaluation process. There’s pros and cons to every way we want to do it, but many states around the nation just flatly said, ‘No, we don’t want to do it,’ for whatever reason. There are thousands of kids in states across the country that have no opportunity, and we feel like we’ve given the best opportunity for the state of Georgia.
“We’ve got 150 teams that will participate in the team camp, and if all those teams bring at least 10 players, that’s thousands of kids that will have an opportunity to be seen. So the thing I think we’re all most proud of is when you look at the other states that are doing things, Georgia is easily the largest, and we think, the most organized from an NCAA standpoint. Those coaches are able to come into the gym and see organized games, see the high school players playing with their high school teams and get a better feel for where they are as players. That may not be the case in other exposure situations. … We’re really excited they gave us the opportunity to run with it and the authority to kind of build it, and then were given the opportunity and stage for so many players.”
The list of college programs that will be represented at both camps should be equally large, according to McMillan.
“We would say that we’re expecting over 100 Division I coaches,” McMillan said. “We’ve had quite a few that are registered already for it and have confirmed their attendance. You’ll have a lot more than will register and confirm the day of the event, but it’s also open to Division II and Division III and junior college coaches, as well. So we’ll expect probably upwards of 150 coaches from different classifications to attend and watch the kids. So it should be great time.”