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General Overview: Men's Basketball Recruiting

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College coaches like Cal's Mike Montgomery must familiarize themselves with the complex and ever-evolving rules and regulations of recruiting.
College coaches like Cal's Mike Montgomery must familiarize themselves with the complex and ever-evolving rules and regulations of recruiting.

College basketball recruiting is full of intrigue, excitement, and controversy. Getting that one big-time recruit can change a program's fortunes entirely, and fans are thus quite invested in the recruiting process. However, though many can name the top prospects in each recruiting class, few grasp the intricacies of the recruiting calendar. Thus, below, I will attempt to outline the basics of basketball recruiting. I'll try to make this experience as exhilarating as possible (yes, this means that there will, indeed, be a chart. Brace yourselves.)


What is a letter of intent? Basically, a letter of intent is a formal agreement between a student-athlete and school stating that the student-athlete will attend the school in question and receive an athletic scholarship. Letters of intent are meant to be binding agreements, but, as I'll discuss below, they are becoming much less final. After the jump, we'll also break down the very crucial recruiting calendar!


As many of you know, there are always loopholes when it comes to college recruiting. Perhaps the most common loophole in the NCAAB recruiting scene today is the financial-aid agreement. Financial-aid agreements are basically one-sided deals: the school in question agrees to provide a scholarship to the player, but the player makes no such commitment to the school. Financial-aid agreements allow players to commit to schools after the normal LOI signing deadlines have passed, and are now being employed by elite recruits on a relatively frequent basis. Such situations are somewhat controversial. Some say that this loophole caters to schools such as those elite one-and-done factories with coaches who have greasy, slicked back hair and whose names rhyme with Lohn Palipari (sorry for being so vague here). Others counter with the fact that letters of intent themselves are fairly one-sided in the opposite direction, for once a player signs a LOI, the school can deny the player's request to opt out of it entirely (even in the event of, say, a coaching change), or, as has been seen recently, can release the player but with very strict conditions as to what schools the player can attend. Perhaps even crueler than these scenarios occurred during this recruiting cycle when the Utah coaching staff basically told recruit Josh Hearlihy that he was no longer needed and thus asked him to opt out of his LOI. Tough luck, huh?


There seems to be a misconception amongst many that coaches can simply recruit student-athletes non-stop with few restrictions. This simply is not the case. Instead, the recruiting year is divided into various periods, with various restrictions during each. Guess's time for that chart I was talking about!

8/1/11 - 9/8/11 Quiet Period
9/9/11 - 10/5/11 Contact Period
10/6/11 - 11/6/11 Evaluation Period
11/7/11 - 11/10/11 Dead Period*
11/11/11 - 12/23/11 Evaluation Period**
12/24/11 - 12/26/11 Dead Period
12/27/11 - 3/15/12 Evaluation Period
3/16/12 - 3/22/12 Contact Period
3/23/12 - 3/28/12 Evaluation Period
3/29/12 - 4/5/12 Dead Period
4/5/12 - 4/8/12 Contact Period
4/9/12 - 4/12/12 Dead Period***
4/13/12 - 4/18/12 Contact Period
4/19/12 Quiet Period
4/20/12 - 4/22/12 Evaluation Period
4/23/12 - 4/26/12 Quiet Period
4/27/12 - 4/29/12 Evaluation Period
4/30/12 - 5/16/12 Quiet Period****
5/17/12 - 5/26/12 Dead Period
5/27/12 - 7/5/12 Quiet Period
7/6/12 - 7/10/12 Dead Period
7/11/12 - 7/15/12 Evaluation Period
7/16/12 - 7/17/12 Dead Period
7/18/12 - 7/22/12 Evaluation Period
7/23/12 - 7/24/12 Dead Period
7/25/12 - 7/29/12 Evaluation Period
7/30/12 - 7/31/12 Dead Period

* Early signing period begins 11/9/11
** Early signing period ends 11/16/11
*** Regular signing period begins 4/11/12
**** Regular signing period ends 5/16/12

Signing Period: The two signing periods are those during which student-athletes can sign their letters of intent. Outside of these periods, student-athletes can give verbal commitments or sign financial-aid agreements.

Quiet Period: Coaches cannot speak with student-athletes or their parents in-person/off-campus nor can they watch recruits play or practice. Recruits can, however, visit campuses, and coaches can, somewhat counter-intuitively (considering this period is referred to as "quiet") speak to the recruit over the phone and/or write them.

Evaluation Period: Coaches can watch recruits play or practice but cannot speak to recruits in-person/off-campus. Recruits can visit campuses and coaches may speak to them over the phone and/or write them.

Dead Period: No in-person contact is allowed between coaches and recruits. Coaches, can, however, speak to recruits over the phone and write them.

Contact Period: Almost all forms of contact are fair game--on- or off- campus.

Note: Though it may seem as though there are no restrictions on phone calls or writing from coaches to recruits, this is not the case. There are various caps and restrictions on the nature and number of such forms of communication, as Cal fans learned in late 2010, when it was revealed that the men's basketball program committed and self-reported such violations in 2008.

So, there you have it! I hope this overview has been both exhilarating and informative! As this is simply an overview of the basics of recruiting, there is much to be discussed in the comment section below, so have at it!