SUWANEE, Ga. – Like any other elite high school basketball player, Mokan Elite (Mo.) point guard Trae Young loves to visit the campuses of the colleges that are recruiting him.
Who wouldn’t want to have the red carpet rolled out all weekend by coaches, hear how great they are, eat at five-star restaurants and get the paparazzi experience from fans begging them to commit?
“Visits are definitely fun,” said Young, who is ranked No. 2 among point guards in the ESPN 60. “You probably learn the most about the school on the visit.”
For that reason, Young said, while he may appear to be a typical carefree teen having the time of his life, he’s “absolutely” simultaneously watching everything intently.
“I have my fun, but there are definitely things I’m watching,” Young said.
On Saturday players participating in the Nike EYBL at Suwanee Sports Academy shared Young’s sentiments, contending that everything from casual interactions to the attractiveness of the females can make or break the visit.
Rule No. 1? Mum’s the word.
“You definitely don’t let the coaches know, in any way, that you’re looking at different things,” said Southern Stampede (Ga.) guard Collin Sextom, who leads the EYBL in scoring, averaging 31 points a game. “You want them to act natural.”
Once their guard is down, Howard Pulley Panthers (Minn.) shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. said his observations get very tedious.
“It’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference,” said Trent, who is ranked No. 15 overall in the ESPN 60 and is being pursued by everyone from UCLA to Kentucky to Duke, among many others.
“I notice stuff like how the players talk to the coaches when they walk in the room or if they change how they normally act or something like that. I’m watching it all.”
But, despite their best attempts to play-off the mental note taking, college coaches know what’s going on.
That’s right players, the jig is up.
“We are aware that visits, both official and unofficial, can have a huge impact on a kid’s decision,” Duke associate head coach Jeff Capel said. “We treat every visit with great importance and carefully plan accordingly to try and personalize each visit for the prospect. We want the kid to feel Duke. To truly understand what our university, basketball program and community is about.”
Young wants to “feel” it, too. He said one of the things he pays the most attention to is how well the players and coaches interact in their down time.
“Just when the coach walks up while they’re just hanging out, I watch that first interaction,” Young said. “You can tell a lot from that. That’s just a good way to tell the real way they feel about each other, and the relationship I’d have with my coach is very important to me. Of course I look at other things too.”
Sure, the players want to know about what the academic side of things would look like and, yeah, they want to hear about how they’d fit into the offense. But, truth is, if they’ve agreed to come on campus they’re fairly confident that those two things are to their liking.
That’s why the seemingly mundane details tend to always show up on the “pros and cons” list, even if it’s just mentally.
Team CP3 (N.C.) forward Wendell Carter Jr. said, given that all the academics and basketball factors are in order, the thing that could potentially tip a college visit in his mind is how the coeds shape up.
“Like I said, of course the academics and how I feel around the coaches and team is No. 1, but that’s a given,” Carter said. “After that, the thing that most of us are looking at and remember is the girls, to be honest. Little things like that are like the icing on the cake. All about the little things.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY