Back in December after back-to-back subpar performances, McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.) point guard Sharife Cooper’s father Omar had his son fork over his cellphone to reset his focus.
Since then, Sharife has been on a dominant run, demolishing the competition in high school and in the Nike EYBL while running with AOT (Ga.).
“I still don’t have my phone,” Cooper said with a laugh. “Of course I want it, but I’ve gotten used to not having it. I want it though.”
As the No. 10 overall player in USA Today Sports’ Chosen 25 for 2020, Cooper may very well need his cellphone when the clock strikes midnight on Friday.
NCAA rules permit college basketball coaches to make unlimited calls and texts to recruits on June 15 after their sophomore year, which has elite rising juniors excited.
“I can’t wait,” said Little Elm (Texas) point guard R.J. Hampton. “I think it’s really going to show me who’s really serious about wanting me at their school.”
As the No. 1 overall scorer in the Under Armour Association, Hampton, who is ranked No. 2 overall in the Chosen 25, has a virtual who’s who of college basketball’s most elite programs drooling at the thought of landing him.
“It’s a blessing to be in this position,” Hampton said.
Still, Hampton contends that the direct contact will allow him to develop a deeper connection with the coaches, ultimately helping him navigate through the recruiting process better.
“Some programs offer 20 players and only really focus on three and some schools offer just because another school offered,” Hampton said. “When you’re talking to them more closely you can tell who’s there for you. I want to see who is checking in on me with stuff off the court and who I just gel with.”
Huntington Prep (W.Va.) forward Jaemyn Brakefield doesn’t consider himself a night owl but come Thursday he plans to take a nap at some point during the day in order to be fully engaged for the late-night conversations with college basketball coaches.
“I feel like you’ve got to,” said Brakefield, who is ranked No. 5 overall in the Chosen 25.
After all, he’s heard the stories about June 15 from friends that have experienced the text barrage and said he’s “curious to see how the coaches go about communicating with me.”
“I want to see how they’ll contact me, who will contact me, how long the conversations will last and everything,” said Brakefield, who is averaging 27 points per game with OSAG (Miss.) on the adidas Gauntlet. “Either way I know it’ll be fun.”
Hampton has to catch a flight on the June 15 at 9 a.m. so he plans to stay up for an hour engaging in text conversations with coaches before he knocks out for the night.
“Then I’ll answer the rest of the coaches on my way to the airport that next morning,” Hampton said. “I’m definitely gonna need the Wi-Fi on my flight with all the conversations I’m sure I’ll have. Should be fun.”
Cox Mill (Concord, N.C.) wing Wendell Moore totally gets it.
He was in the same position this time last year and said that, while the constant communication inevitably becomes stressful, 2020 players should live in the moment.
“You’ve just got to remember that so many people want to be in this position with coaches contacting them,” said Moore, a rising senior wing at Cox Mill (Concord, N.C.) who is ranked No. 18 overall in the Chosen 25 for 2019. “They’ll see soon enough that it’s not all fun and games, but there’s no need to think about that on June 15. Just have fun while you can.”
That’s Trinity Academy (Raleigh, N.C.) forward Isaiah Todd’s perspective.
He’s heard the not-so-glamorous flipside stories but said his eagerness to dive into communicating with the coaches outweighs any apprehension he has about headaches down the road.
“I’m not as worried about coaches contacting me too much after a while because I have my mom in place to step in if it’s too much,” said Todd, who is ranked No. 3 overall in the Chosen 25 for 2020. “That’s big because it allows me not to worry about anything but having fun and getting to know the coaches and seeing what they have to say and what they’re all about. June 15 is when it’s gonna get real.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY