Think high school football players are the only ones shining under September’s grand Friday night lights?
High school hoopers across the country are putting forth a supreme effort in their “offseason” in hopes of leaving lasting impressions on college basketball coaches.
No, the summer shoe circuit hasn’t been extended, hoops stars are instead grinding it out in the open gym season, which just got more official on Sept. 9 when NCAA rules allowed college coaches to attend.
“It’s a fun time of the year because it’s a lot more laid back of a setting,” Norman North (Norman, Okla.) point guard Trae Young said. “It’s always fun to see which coaches come out and then all the people we go to school with love it too. It’s pretty cool.”
Spartanburg Day School (Spartanburg, S.C.) forward Zion Williamson is expecting a crowded gym this week after a dominant summer on the adidas Gauntlet.
Still, while Williamson, a junior who is ranked No. 3 overall in the ESPN 60, is “excited” to see the hordes of coaches who will inevitably drop by to watch him in the coming weeks, he’s determined not to let it affect his offseason preparation.
“On the court it doesn’t affect me,” Williamson said. “You’re supposed to go hard whether the coaches are there or not. That’s how I play because I’m trying to get better and win another state title. It does mean a lot to me that the coaches will be there though. That’s something I feel like I’d remember.”
As the No. 2 overall point guard in the ESPN 100, Young is fully aware that, at this point, the coaches who show up to watch him torch his teammates after school are more “there to show me how much they really want me to come to their schools.”
Makes sense for a guy who lit up the Nike EYBL all summer, won a Peach Jam title and won a gold medal with USA Basketball’s U18 team.
“The main reason coaches come now, for me, is to show how committed they are to getting me to their school,” Young said. “I don’t think it’s about watching how well I’ll play or anything like that. I just work hard and I’ll make a note of who’s there.”
Centennial (Las Vegas) guard Troy Brown Jr. has always used the open gym workouts to help his teammates gain exposure.
Young said that exposure can, in turn, help team’s get better.
“You just never know who’s gonna come out so you have to go hard just like you would if it was summer ball,” Young said. “When the coaches are there the games get more intense and that makes everyone better. It’s a win-win.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY