COVID-19 Affects Recruitment for College Sports

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Nicole DeCesare

Kyrell Luc ’21 signs on to play D-1 basketball with Holy Cross. Photo by Nicole DeCesare.

Brian Gamble

Seniors Gianni Thompson and Kyrell Luc signed letters-of-intent Friday morning to play Division I basketball at Boston College and Holy Cross, respectively. But as the winter season approaches with a worsening nationwide pandemic, placing into doubt the basketball season, younger players hoping to follow in their teammates’ footsteps may have a tougher road ahead.

Varsity l Basketball Coach Tom Nelson, who leads the team with the highest number of scholar-athlete hopefuls, is worried about getting players sufficient exposure.

“The team is not allowed to go out and play in front of college coaches,” Nelson said. “Scouts haven’t been able to come on campuses or even watch kids play.”

Usually, players showcase their talent during a ‘live period’ in front of college recruiters, something that is hard to replace or replicate with only video footage.

“The year before, we only had one live period because of the college scandal that was occurring at the time,” Nelson said. “Now, with COVID-19, the kids haven’t had a chance to be seen at all,” Nelson continued. “Normally, kids will have the chance to be evaluated, but that has not occurred at all this year.”

Juniors have the most to lose, as this season usually provides an optimal time for scouting and offers.

Thompson and Luc are thankful that their prospects are set, though they fear for younger players—especially as the NCAA recently approved an extra year eligibility for this season’s players.

“The NCAA’s Division I Council voted Wednesday [Oct. 14, 2020] to grant all winter sports athletes an extra year of eligibility at their current school, no matter how many games their teams play in the coronavirus-abbreviated season, no matter how many minutes they play in them, no matter whether they’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior,” according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

“I would be afraid that this could mean fewer scholarships for current juniors, as colleges will already have deep and experienced rosters,” Luc said.

Nelson agrees that the Class of 2022 has been hit the hardest.

“They haven’t got a lot of people to watch them play so far in high school,” Nelson said.

This also doesn’t mean that even younger players aren’t affected.

“Since I am just a sophomore and have three seasons ahead of me, this hasn’t been too bad for my future basketball career,” Quinn Nielsen ’23 said. “My team and I have still been in the gym working even with the new COVID regulations, and have been trying to get better any way we can. Also, colleges understand that we might lose a season, so they will be more lenient if that makes sense.”

The situation for Massachusetts athletes is especially dire, as many other states have chosen to allow team sports to continue. This decision puts many athletes here at a disadvantage, as they will not get the same opportunities to compete as their peers in other parts of the country.

As it appears unlikely that the School will have a basketball season this winter, Nelson has been looking into new ways to give his athletes the chance to be seen by colleges.

“Seeing a kid on film is not the same as seeing them live or watching the way they interact with the teammates and coaches,” Nelson said. “Their mannerisms on the court and on the bench is one of the things coaches dissect when at games.  How they talk to their teammates, the refs etc.  Relationships will be more heavily leaned on during this time to get a kid that matches the program needs and the culture the college coach wants to set for his program”

Below, check out where Coach’s Nelson’s athletes play (or have played) basketball.

Division 1

  • Ryan Canty ’11 Fordham
  • Jared Fay ’11 Fordham  Masters degree at D2 Dominican
  • Marco Benegas Flores ’11 Northeastern  Masters degree at Umass Lowell
  • Jared Fay ’13 Fordham, Hartford Masters degree at Virgin Islands
  • Sammy Mojica ’14 Drexel Professional Basketball Player in Puerto Rico and South America
  • David Watkins ’15 University of New Hampshire
  • Mark Gasperini ’16 American Masters of accounting  at Umass
  • Adam Mikula ’16 Boston University
  • Isaiah Fontaine ’16 University Texas Rio Grand Valley Professional Basketball player in Europe
  • AJ Reeves ’18 Providence College
  • Jordan Minor ’19 Merrimack College
  • Gianni Thompson ’21 Boston College
  • Kyrell Luc ’21 College of the Holy Cross

Division 2

  • Adrian Oliveira ’13 Southern New Hampshire University
  • John Powell ’13 Bloomfield transferred to D3 Brandeis, Transferred and graduated from D3 Lasell

Division 3

  • KJ Baptiste ’13 Brandeis Graduate Assistant Coach at Penn State
  • Max Horvath ’13 Macalester
  • Bobby Brooks ’15 Gustavus Adolphus
  • David Labossiere ’15 Connecticut College
  • Ju’quann Mills ’17 Babson College