Commentary

How players attack evaluation periods

Originally Published: November 22, 2010
By Dave Telep | ESPN Recruiting

Players use the spring evaluation period as a time to build up their reputation. A perfect example of this is ESPNU 100 SF Amir Garrett (Los Angeles, Calif./Findlay Prep), who was more likely to be seen on a baseball diamond than a basketball court in college heading into spring last year.

However, if he wanted to play big-time college hoops, the CIF player of the year had a small window to make his national mark as a basketball player. The months of April, May and the early part of June were pivotal for him to begin his ascent up the recruiting charts and turn collegiate interest into offers.

The play for Garrett, who at the time attended Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, Calif., started to erupt in April and May on the AAU circuit, which is when most prospects look to catch the attention of scouts in order to get on the radar of the college programs.

However, Garrett needed late May and early June to make his point as a hooper.

"In the spring, what really got me out there was the Pangos Camp and then I got invited to NBAPA Camp," Garrett said. "I played well in the summer against all the top players."

Despite owning handwritten letters from only Montana State and Connecticut last spring (the Huskies signed Donnell Beverly out of Leuzinger two years prior), Garrett was able to finally earn a high-major offer.

Following the Pangos camp, Arizona offered him a scholarship.

"They hadn't seen me but I think they saw a video," Garrett said.

While Garrett juggled his basketball expectations and interest, he was shuttling back and forth between AAU and USA Baseball events where he was a pitcher. Most elite college players focus in on hoops only during this time, but Garrett hadn't yet gotten rid of his baseball itch.

Four months following his spring work, Garrett signed with the St. John's Red Storm at the close of the early signing period.

Improve your rankings in the summer

The summer is a pivotal time for a player and his approach depends on where he is in the recruiting cycle and his stature as a prospect.

The elite players, your top-100 types, concern themselves with two things in the summer: improving their ranking and scanning the stands.

All players have egos, some bigger than others. While Chris Paul and John Wall never concerned themselves publicly with their national ranking, others obsess over the number associated with their game. For the obsessed, rankings-oriented type, the summer is a chance to make a move.

A strong summer puts players in contention for higher rankings and leads to invitations to postseason all-star games.

Elite players who haven't made their college choice scan the stands in the summer, paying close attention to which coaching staffs attend their games. Kids take attendance, especially by the head coaches, as a sign of importance. Michigan State signed Branden Dawson (Gary, Ind./Lew Wallace) during the early period. Dawson, at the end of July, made the comment that Tom Izzo attended every one of his games in the summer. Clearly, he noticed and it made an impression.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have Izzo sitting front and center. Plenty of players use the summer as a launching pad to simply earn a scholarship. There's a reason why invitations to play for high-profile teams are coveted. Players understand that in order to obtain offers, they need to be seen. This is the month when a prospect can go from unknown to high-major target in a few days.

Pat Connaughton (Danvers, Mass./St. John's) used a three-day period at the AAU Nationals to lock down his high-major scholarship and slide into the ESPNU 100. The summer was his opportunity to prove that despite a weak high school schedule, he could perform at the highest level. Notre Dame -- as well as 25 schools around the country -- took note and signed him.

Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at espndt@gmail.com. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.