What’s the hurry with college freshmen?

Every so often some kid commits to a college when they’re 12, and fans decry it.

“What are they going to start doing next? Recruiting in grade school?” people will say.

Well, it appears that college freshmen are now being gobbled up in much the same fashion. I’m noticing from all my networks that increasingly, incoming frosh are expected to report not in the fall, not in second summer session, but first summer session.

That means this week.

For those from Texas on East it might not be such a big deal, because most high schools in those regions are finished by mid-May. But on the West coast, where the school year ends in mid-June, college comes too quickly.

I know one girl who graduated this week and was headed out to college the next day. Another went to her school last weekend, came back for graduation during the week, and headed back on a plane the next day.

No time to breathe, no time to enjoy finally being done with high school. No time to reflect on the first milestone of life, or relax and catch up on things that fell by the wayside for the sake of senior portfolios, activities and last-minute business. It’s just on to more school, with no head space.

I just finished up my own teaching school year a few days ago, and it’s only been today that I’ve felt a faint semblance of being rested again…..eventually. If I had to jump into school again this week, I’d lose my mind.

I’ve written against year-round basketball for the 18-and-unders in this space before, because I think young people need a break sometimes. And then someone will post a comment that unless kids stay on it 24/7, someone who is working harder will get the next scholarship instead of them.

Maybe so. I’m a fair person and am interested in the opposing argument. So in this vein I’d like to throw the question open to college coaches: why snatch a kid up so quickly now? Do you really feel like an extra 3-9 weeks in the program will make that much difference? Do you think they’re going to get in trouble if they don’t come to college the second high school is finished? Aren’t you afraid they’re going to get burned out on school and/or hoops?

I really want to know.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I have mixed feelings about this – Especially as I wish the current rules by the NCAA were different. But let me provide a counterargument for the sake of discussion:

    1. Getting them to school early allows them to become familiar with campus/environment without the entire student-body present — Sort of a preview for the fall without getting overwhelmed by additional students.

    2. It gives academic resource people and a coaching staff time to truly assess where the student-athletes are academically at their school, without the added pressure/time constraints of games, travel, weights, practice (Remember coaches aren't allowed to work with players on the court during summer), etc. What gets lost is basketball is a 2 semester sport and its difficult for freshmen to initially balance the demands of both without proper acclimation.

    3. Similarly it allows strength & conditioning staff to assess where incoming student-athletes and develop programs that will benefit them most. Many incoming freshmen at high schools don't have access to a basketball specific strength & conditioning plan. Fitness level and evaluation for potential injuries can be made at this time.

    4. You could make an argument that summer is the time where they are "most" like the student-body population because of the lack of games, travel & practice that spans over two semesters. This gives them an opportunity to bond with teammates and socialize on campus and find other healthy interest beyond basketball.

    So those are some of the benefits.

  2. Thank you for that well-thought-out and well-articulated response. I can see the rationale behind that, although I still think mid-to-late June is too soon to have the new frosh.

  3. As the parent of a young freshman who had to leave for a school 2000 miles away just 2 days after high school graduation, I have mixed feelings.

    Yes, it's nice to get 2 classes out of the way and lighten the load during the school year. There is weight training and loosely organized team scrimmages. But is all of this necessary directly after graduation?

    I don't think so. No senior summer. No time to reflect.

    There are 2 summer sessions. Why not join up at the 2nd session?

    Probably because the coaches view this as a business that their jobs depend on. Get them in the weight room. Monitor them in study hall. From a distance – ensure they are at the daily scrimmage.

    These are 18-year olds. Will they be expected to carry their teams come the first season? Probably not.

    Would they feel overwhelmed if they waited to arrive in the fall when the rest of the students arrive? I don't think so. The athletes have a special "club" with a lot of support.

    Time to assess where they are academically and physically? That is very quickly evident as the support staff is in contact with the academic staff very early and physical attributes are detected upfront. There's no way to hide what you can't lift in the gym.

    Given the fact that most freshmen have limited roles on a DI team, I think it's unnecessary to go directly from high school to the college team without even a week to breath.

  4. Parent, I'm giving you a standing ovation for those comments. Here are the key portions for me:

    There are 2 summer sessions. Why not join up at the 2nd session?

    Probably because the coaches view this as a business that their jobs depend on. Get them in the weight room. Monitor them in study hall. From a distance – ensure they are at the daily scrimmage.

    These are 18-year olds. Will they be expected to carry their teams come the first season? Probably not.

    Would they feel overwhelmed if they waited to arrive in the fall when the rest of the students arrive? I don't think so. The athletes have a special "club" with a lot of support.
    …….
    Given the fact that most freshmen have limited roles on a DI team, I think it's unnecessary to go directly from high school to the college team without even a week to breath.

    And now, parent, you've got me all irritated again.

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