Is the non-scholastic fall evaluation period really necessary?

Posted by RRR on Oct 19, 2010 at 4:00pm | Page Views: 8,664

After the summer evaluation period — when players, their families and college coaches zip from one end of the country to the other for three full weeks of exposure events in July — the NCAA allows a non-scholastic evaluation weekend in the fall during the academic year.

Academic Year Evaluations — as defined by the NCAA — are “evaluations during the academic year which may occur at regularly scheduled high school, preparatory school and two-year college contests/tournaments, practices, pick-up games and open gyms. Evaluations at non-scholastic events during prospect’s academic year shall only occur during the last full weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) of the fall contact period and the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the spring evaluation period.”

The fall non-scholastic evaluation period, which just took place earlier this month, included a bevy of exposure events in and near our state from Chicago to Indianapolis to Louisville.

This last evaluation period allowed college coaches to get a final look at players on their recruiting lists against like competition before the high school season begins. But is it really necessary? Do they really expect to see anything new that they didn’t see during the summer evaluation period from these players just two months earlier? Will anything they see change the look of their scholarship depth chart at this point in the recruiting game? Most likely not.

I’ve never liked the idea of the fall evaluation period for one singular reason:  injuries… some ending a player’s basketball season even before her first high school practice of the new school year.

Many multi-sport players are in the middle of high school volleyball, soccer or cross country competition, not really in basketball shape for a quick weekend of intense, high-level games.   The motions of fall high school sports don’t blend too well with the stops and cuts of the basketball court. Injuries can be light or serious, with the dreaded ACL tear a player’s worst nightmare.  Whether light or serious, the injury takes the athlete away from her fall sport, preparation for the basketball season and — worst case scenario — out for the basketball season altogether.

I am aware of at least one Indiana player, a D-I prospect, who lost her upcoming season to an ACL tear that occurred during this month’s evaluation period.

North Montgomery sophomore Kelsi Byrd (right), who is also a middle hitter for the Chargers volleyball team, will miss most if not all of the 2010-11 season while she rehabilitates from knee surgery. The 5’8 guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as a freshman and will be sorely missed by both her volleyball and basketball teams while she rehabs.

The argument could be made that Byrd’s injury could have happened on the volleyball court as well, but you can’t help but wonder if she would be suiting up Thursday night for her team’s match against Western Boone in IHSAA volleyball sectional competition if the fall evaluation period was not a part of the NCAA recruiting calendar. Photo from K-S Images.

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