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.