How Recruits Use the Summer to Draw Colleges' Attention
It's no secret that the AAU basketball circuit doesn't always carry around the best reputation, whether it's the me-first style of play encouraged or the behind-the-scenes culture that promotes a swath of entitled superstars. Sports Illustrated's George Dohrmann wrote a book last year that peeled the cover back on some of the seediness of the AAU circuit, and parts of the book are genuinely stomach-churning.
With all that in mind, CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish is here to remind us that the summer sports circuit isn't all bad.
Parrish recently wrote a story about Dillon Graham, a high school basketball player at the Orlando First Academy in Orlando, Fla., who started landing scholarship offers left and right after playing in front of college coaches at NCAA-sanctioned events this summer.
Graham initially only wanted a scholarship offer from the University of Central Florida, which is "just a long 3-pointer away from Graham's Orlando-area home," according to Parrish. But once the 6-foot-4 rising senior helped his summer team, the Florida Rams, win the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis earlier this summer, the big fish started trying to snap him up.
"Kansas, Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Kansas State, Florida State, and USF" all offered Graham scholarships, he told Parrish. "I kind of had a small idea that I could play at this level, but I never thought it would happen because I never thought I'd have the opportunity to showcase my skills."
Up until now, Graham had been completely unheralded on a national level. Both Scout.com and Rivals.com currently rank Graham as a 0-star prospect; in other words, his national profile was zilch until July. (In fact, that lack-of-national-ranking caused some consternation on a Louisville message board after news broke that the Cardinals had offered Graham a scholarship.)
"There's no question—none of this would be possible without summer basketball," said Graham's mother, Renee Graham, to Parrish. "We've had mixed emotions with AAU in the past. But this whole circuit thing that he's doing right now is really terrific. These coaches would've never seen him without it. With him being at such a small school, he just wouldn't have had these opportunities at all. We're just grateful."
So, while the youth-basketball circuit certainly has its warts, it also produces opportunities for players like Dillon Graham, who almost certainly would have never received calls from Kansas, Louisville, etc., if not for the summer circuit.
Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.