April evaluation periods an important step

The first April evaluation period (April 20-22) starts Friday night, which means hundreds of college coaches will be on the road evaluating prospects, until Sunday afternoon. While it seems like a short time span, it is a very important part of the recruiting process for coaches, which they weren't able to do last year.

College coaches will use this weekend (and next weekend, which is the other evaluation period in April) to see prospects in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 classes who are participating in various AAU events throughout the country. Coaches will be able to not only evaluate who fits their needs, but also identify prospects in future classes.

"It’s great to see the guys that you followed this past year in high school and had up on campus for unofficial visits," Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. "We can now see them compete against the best multiple times over a weekend. It really helps with our evaluations.”

Coaches, like Wright, have plenty of players they are eager to see play but big AAU events, like the Hoop Group Jam Fest in Pittsburgh, allow him to identify many more players from all over the country.

"This weekend we will have over 250 teams with 2,500 players participating," Hoop Group president Rob Kennedy said.

Recruiting is considered the most important part of building program, and while I agree, proper evaluating is often glossed over too quickly in the process. These April evaluation periods remedy that problem.

“The more evaluations we can get on a given prospect, it aids in the decision process," VCU head coach Shaka Smart said. "It closes the gap on knowing more about how a player may fit into our plans. It allows us to make a more informed decision."

Coaching staffs will be able to watch, meet and discuss the prospect before they take the next step and offer a scholarship.

"It only makes July a much more efficient period," Wright said. ”You evaluate as a staff in the spring and then you know who to recruit in July.”

While these April evaluation periods are very beneficial to the head coaches -- who hardly ever go out, evaluate and recruit during the season -- they are also very helpful for the prospects.

Players are able to show coaches how much they have improved since the end of the season, rather than waiting until July, and it allows them to gather information about the schools that are interested, so they can make a well-informed decision if they choose to commit early.

“Increased exposure works both ways, exposure for the players is great because it gives them all a chance to get noticed,” Smart said.

Overall, the April evaluation periods should lead to better decisions on the part of the coaches and players and hopefully we can cut down the number of decommitments and transfers we have seen over the last few years.