Early decisions growing in college ball

The Lansing State Journal notes the increasing trend in early signings in women’s basketball.

“There’s definitely pressure to do it and get it done with,” said Madison Williams, a Detroit Country Day senior-to-be, who committed to the Spartans in May. “From my family and high school coaches and AAU coaches, they understood I couldn’t make my decision until I was ready. Most of the people around me wanted me to wait until I was ready, but a lot of coaches were like, ‘Now, now, now.'”

Is there a correlation between this and the (previously noted in this space) increasingly high college transfer rates? Absolutely. Are kids getting offers increasingly early? Hell yes.

One amazing young lady I know, who just finished her sophomore year, already has offers from five colleges. Five. At this rate, universities will be offering middle school players by the time I turn 50.

Basketball is now a year-round sport, and kids are pushed to join AAU teams at earlier and earlier ages. With the explosion of interest in girl’s basketball, there are more and more young women competing for available scholarships, so the need for a girl to stand out is greater. Over the years, competition has driven sports from a casual pursuit to a scientifically-calculated endeavor.

I’m far from the only one I know that laments what amounts to a loss of some childhood for baller kids. Their time is scheduled so tightly, and I worry that some don’t get the down time that they need. And I always feel bad when I inadvertently make an athlete squirm when I ask what she plans to study in college.

“I don’t know,” the kid will say shrugging, her face a mask of confusion and embarrassment.

I’ll tell her she has plenty of time to figure that out, but obviously she already feels the weight of expectation that she must have her life figured out by the time she gets her high school diploma.

Since the moods and lives of teens change weekly, if not daily, who’s to say that the college a girl picks when she’s 16 is a place she will like and feel is right for her at age 19?

If colleges are going to exert pressure like they do, coaches have no business complaining about high transfer rates.


  1. For some of these girls, the rejection and loss that they suffer in college is the first that they've ever experienced. They've had coaches kissing their a** since they were playing in park and recs. Now they're struggling with things that all college students face but with added expectations. If they're away from home, their support system is gone and they often see no way out except to go back home. I do think that the insular world of club ball has not simply deprived players of a childhood, it's not allowed them to grow up.

    If you'll recall, Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood made a verbal to Tennessee when she was in the 9th grade. Since most people think that her wonderful stepfather pretty much made the decision for her, it's no surprise that it was a disaster.

  2. I have no doubt that's the case in some places. But from what I've seen, kids aren't necessarily insulated on club ball teams. For many players, the club ball atmosphere is more intense than their high school team, because the level of talent is higher. That's why NCAA coaches hit the club ball circuit during the summer, because it's easier for them to see several really great girls on one team than to see one or two goodies on a high school squad.

    Because the competition is heavier within the club ball team, the girls often can't get away with the crap they do on their high school team, such as "attitude." A high school coach would have to let such a girl stay in the game because she is all the coach has. But the club ball coach will sit her ass down quick fast if she pulls attitude, etc, because the coach has the luxury of calling on players B, C or D to replace her.

    You're right about Wiley-Gatewood, though.