Without High School Hoops, Recruiting a Headache for Coaches, Players

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Local college coaches are monitoring the situation with Illinois high school basketball closely.

NCAA rules have prohibited them from in-person recruiting since the pandemic started. No home visits, no campus visits, they can’t even go to a high school and watch practice.

And now they are faced with the prospect there may not be a high school season in Illinois.

“If the state of Illinois is not allowed to play a season and other states are, it’s a 100 percent disadvantage (for Illinois high school players), said Illinois State coach Dan Muller. “It’s a disadvantage for evaluation purposes and for skill. It’s a disadvantage for late bloomers who were going to have good senior years.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois High School Association have differing opinions on a basketball season.

The IDPH has deemed basketball a high risk sport, which means no games, no scrimmages, no contact practices. Gov. JB Pritzker wants basketball postponed until the spring.

The IHSA believes basketball can be played safely with masks and social distancing so it is allowing school districts to decide if their teams can play. The IHSA wants schools to stay on schedule and start the season Nov. 16.

“I’m praying it can work out somehow, we are excited and hoping we can go to some high school games this year,” said Bradley coach Brian Wardle. “We don’t know. If it’s not this high school season, hopefully in AAU in April we can see (players).”

The uncertainty of a high school basketball season in Illinois is especially troubling for our local Division III and junior college schools, who typically stock their rosters with players from the state.
Recruiting in 2020 takes on a different feeling for coaches and prospects.

“We have a good communication with high school coaches in this area,” said Illinois Central College women’s basketball coach Karrie Redeker. “It’s reaching out to them and asking about kids. But there’s nothing better than watching them live and having them see you at their games.”

If there isn’t a prep basketball season in Illinois, high school players will have to be creative in how they can stand out to coaches.

“You have to figure out how you can be recruited,” said Eureka College men’s coach Chip Wilde. “Did somebody see you in the past? You have to rely on connections, things like that. But, for sure, it hurts you if you don’t get seen.”

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