Friday, September 21, 2007

Recruiting timeclock speeds up

Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports has been covering recruiting for longer than Mike Krzyzewski has been coaching at Duke, but can’t remember North Carolina accepting a commitment from a player as young as Kendall Marshall.

A 6-foot-3, left-handed point guard from Bishop O’Connell High in Arlington, Va., Marshall committed Wednesday to North Carolina. He’s a high school sophomore rated one of the top half-dozen players in the Class of 2010 by Gibbons.

“He’s really an excellent addition for them,” said Gibbons, who lives in Lenoir, N.C.

Marshall’s commitment also demonstrates that even the traditional college powers no longer are waiting for players to mature before offering scholarships. As of Thursday, Gibbons said 108 of the top 150 seniors in the rankings he provides to are committed.

C.J. Leslie, a 6-7 forward from Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh in the Class of 2010, has been committed to N.C. State since June 22.

“The (recruiting) clock has just moved up,” Gibbons said.

He said schools are taking risks with early scholarship offers and commitments. Players who commit early can change their minds. Taylor King was an eighth-grader when he committed to UCLA; he enrolled at Duke this fall.

Sometimes players who commit early don’t mature and develop the way college coaches expect. If colleges withdraw their scholarship offers, coaches’ reputations with future recruits can be harmed.

“(Coaches) are gambling a bit,” Gibbons said. “They (players) have still got three years of high school left.”

But if coaches wait until players are seniors to offer scholarships, there won’t be many uncommitted players left to recruit.

– Ken Tysiac