Jayson Tatum isn’t atypical of most teens who are brimming with excitement now that the temperatures are higher, school bells have stopped all that annoying ringing and “making it an early night” means to hit the hay just north of 2 a.m.
It’s what he’ll do on those late nights, more specifically the wee hours of June 15, that makes Tatum, well, different.
“I’m going to be talking to a lot of college basketball coaches,” said Tatum, a rising junior at Chaminade College Prep (St. Louis) who is ranked No. 3 in the ESPN 60. “That’s probably a little different from what most kids my age will be doing at midnight, but it kinda comes with the territory.”
The NCAA allows college basketball coaches unlimited contact to recruits on June 15 after their sophomore year.
“I think it’ll be cool to be able to get calls from all of the coaches that have been recruiting us,” said Wesleyan Christian Academy (High Point, N.C.) forward Harry Giles III, who will expect nonstop rings on June 15 as the No. 5 player in the ESPN 60. “That’s all the coaches have been talking about when they come to watch workouts; they’re just as ready for June 15 as us.”
That’s precisely the reason that Whitney Young (Chicago) center Jahlil Okafor, the top-ranked player in the 2014 class, urges rising juniors to exercise caution with the unlimited contact. The key, according to Okafor, is to “set boundaries.”
“The young guys need to know that they’re in control,” said Okafor, the 2014 ALL-USA Player of the Year who will play at Duke next season. “You should never feel overwhelmed; put coaches on a schedule to make it less stressful for you. And I’d definitely advise the younger guys to have a parent or adult involved because they can manage it a lot better than we can. Sometimes those grown men can take advantage of you when they see that you don’t have an adult around to handle things. It can get to be too much if you let it.”
Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) center Ivan Rabb couldn’t agree more; as the top-ranked rising senior in the ESPN 100, Rabb has seen both sides of June 15’s opening of the proverbial flood gates for coaches’ communication.
“It will be a new experience and exciting at first,” Rabb said. “But after a while you’ll need to learn how to manage when you can take phone calls from the coaches and when you need to get away and be with friends and family.”
That management is even more important since it’s rarely the actual head coach who’s on the other end of those texts.
“If it’s a text from a head coach, more than likely it’s from an assistant or a GA that he’s put in charge of his phone for that purpose,” Missouri associate head coach Tim Fuller said. “I’ve been in staff meetings in the past and seen head coaches hand their phone to a GA and he’d text 10 guys. Assistants text, head coaches don’t; not typically. When you talk to the head coach and hear his voice that’s when you’re talking to him.”
The No. 1 goal for coaches on June 15? Be No. 1.
“You want to be first to call; that’s the key,” Fuller said. “You want the player to know that they’re a priority and they’re important.”
Trinity Christian School (Fayetteville, N.C.) point guard Dennis Smith Jr., a rising junior, isn’t as concerned about the order schools call in; he’s just excited about having to stay up to wait on them.
Makes sense since just a year ago Smith didn’t have any contact with coaches, now he’s the top point guard in the ESPN 60.
“I’ve just got a different perspective; I’m grateful,” Smith said. “Not too long ago I was just believing in myself and hoping that coaches would be calling soon; now I’ve got that and I love it. I know it could get to the point that it’s a lot to handle, but, for now, I’m excited about June 15.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY