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1487 Views 1 Reply Latest reply: Apr 26, 2010 12:20 PM by sufan33
bluesman64 Amateur 14 posts since
Aug 20, 2007
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Apr 24, 2010 8:56 AM

How young is too young to be recruited?

April 24, 2010


Jaylin Fleming might be the next LeBron James. But  we won't know for a while -- he's only 10 years old. fifth grader at the Beasley Academic Center in  suburban Chicago is already attracting interest from college scouts and  coaches. Roger Hinds, the head trainer for the New York Knicks -- a pro  team that could use a lot of help -- told the Chicago Tribune,  "I've never actually seen a kid like this."


Which means he's watching.


University of Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber  tells NPR's Scott Simon that 10 years old is particularly young to be  attracting attention.

"We're always watching, but that's a little young,  so he must be special," he says.


Still, Fleming is young enough to make Weber  uncomfortable about the intensely competitive nature of the recruiting  game. "I don't like it, to be honest," he says. "Kids need to be kids."


Weber says college coaches are getting involved  with possible recruits at an ever-earlier age. "So if it means going to  seventh- and eighth-grade games, we are starting to do that," he says.


But it wasn't always this way. "I've been involved  in Division I basketball for 31 years now, and when I first started, we  were worried about seniors in high school and that was it," he says.


"Now there's the early signing period. It went to  juniors, then sophomores -- we've even had a commitment from a freshman  in the last four years, so everything's accelerated."


No school wants to lose out on recruits. "I'm not  sure it's good, but it is there," Weber says. "If you don't do it, it's  going to hurt you."

The popularity of the NCAA tournament games, he  says, has parents pushing their children into basketball. "They see  their sons or daughters being the next superstars."


Those parents may post videos on YouTube touting  "The Next Kobe Bryant," but at 10 or 11, how much can you really tell  about a child's potential?

"You don't know if they're going to grow -- if  they're going to mature," Weber says. And, he adds, college coaches  don't know if the child will one day be able to compete academically as a  student athlete.


"More and more people are trying to create or make  their child to be this elite person that maybe they aren't -- they're  not ready to be," he says.

And that pressure could burn kids out early, Weber  warns.


"The biggest thing is, the older you get, the more  basketball becomes a job," he says. "If they don't play it for the love  of the game, I think it's going to be something that backfires and  they're never going to make the progress they should make."

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