Eighth Grade All-Americans? Good or Bad?
After reading this column on USC's recent recruitment of an eighth-grader, I decided to speak to a coach who had just come from being around a bunch of junior high schoolers.
George Mason assistant Chris Caputo spent last weekend working the Freshman All-American Camp at Hoop Magic Sports Academy in Chantilly. Organized by Clay Dade, the event brought more than 100 players from across the nation to work with college, high school and AAU coaches. The college coaches were mostly from the power conferences: Georgetown, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, N.C. State and Kansas State all were represented, along with some folks from around the region like Caputo and William & Mary's Antwon Jackson.
While I normally wouldn't be a big believer in college coaches working with players so young, I can understand the benefits - to both coaches and players.
"I really liked doing it," Caputo said, acknowledging the campers paid to attend and that the coaches worked for free. "I think that our country, we've basically litigated and legislated ourselves out of being the world power in basketball. I think it was good this weekend for thos kids to be coached by college coaches. You would think being at that camp, those kids' minds would be all out of place and up on a pedastal, but I don't think that was the case. All they heard about the whole time was how it meant nothing that they were there. And they had good players.
"Some people may take it the wrong way, but I think it was done the right way. They may think that's not right, that [college] coaches shouldn't be there and that it's ridiculous to put together a camp with all those young kids. My thing is, hey, we need to start letting the best players be around the best coaches.
"Is there an element of recruiting there? Certainly. ... But there were six good players from Mississippi there and Mississippi State wasn't there chasing them."
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