Over the weekend, the NC Independent Schools Athletic Association hosted its Team Camp Showcase to allow member schools to play a series of basketball games in front of college coaches.
It was the second time players were allowed in North Carolina to do so with their high school teams. And for players like Cannon School senior Christian Reeves, it offers a unique opportunity to show off their skills – an opportunity that is often very different from where players are with their traveling teams.
Each year, travel teams have NCAA “live periods” to play in front of the coaches, usually in April and July, and this is a time when many players receive their first college attention or get their first scholarships. . But for many players, including Reeves, a 7-foot-1 center, their roles on travel teams are very different from those in high school.
For Cannon, the two-time state champion, Reeves starts and plays most of the game. As part of the prestigious CP3 All-Stars travel team, which represents NBA player Chris Paul on the Nike EYBL circuit, Reeves leaves the bench and doesn’t play as much.
âMy role is different, depending on whether I’m playing for Cannon or CP3,â said Reeves, who will be paying an official visit to South Carolina on Monday. âWith Cannon, I can do more. With CP3, I have a job: to block shots and rebound.
Reeves said both environments have their advantages: an increased role in high school compared to an elite national competition with CP3.
Northside Christian junior Wesley Tubbs, a Power 5 rookie, also plays on the EYBL Tour with his Team United travel team. Like Reeves, he enjoys the chance to play in front of coaches with his high school team.
âI feel like high school is a bit more structured,â Tubbs said. âWe’re kind of building something here as a team, where the AAU is more of an individual thing. Like you don’t talk a lot, but when you’re in high school you’re all together everyday. AAU is kind of like a weekend thing.
For players like Reeves and Tubbs, who are good enough to play on National Tour teams, the NCISAA showcase has provided them with an added chance to get college glances. For many of their teammates, it has allowed them to play in front of more coaches than many have ever had.
Coaches monitor high school games, but it’s easier for them to participate in events that bring together multiple prospects, like shoe circuit events that take place across the country. In 2019, the NCAA allowed states to hold âlive periodâ events for high school teams. And hundreds of coaches attended public and private school events in 2019 – and over the past two weeks. No event took place last year due to the pandemic.
And Tubbs said that when coaches come to see the top prospects, they also see their teammates.
âIt puts them in a situation to look into,â Tubbs said. âIt’s always a plus. And you must take advantage of all your opportunities. Don’t let anything go to waste.
The point of view of the scouts / coaches
Northside Christian coach Erasto Hatchett, who has coached on travel balloons, really likes the high school format. Last weekend, the teams played on three courts at the Forsyth Country Day School near Winston-Salem. The games were spaced an hour apart.
The gyms were set up so that college coaches had their own section, and peering through them during every game was like watching a color wheel. Coaches like NC State’s Kevin Keatts and High Point’s Tubby Smith walked in and out of gyms dressed in brightly colored team clothing, observing rookies at all levels.
âI think it’s a good platform for the kids,â Hatchett said. “Either way, as long as the kids get a chance to be seen by college coaches, that’s the most important piece.”
Hatchett thinks coaches have a more realistic view of a rookie in the high school game, but believes there are advantages to both formats – the travel ball and the school setting.
âIt’s probably just the structure with the high school teams,â Hatchett said. âIt doesn’t hit any coach or organization. I just think AAU gives you more freedom, whereas in high school you have to be a little more methodical in what you do and strategize a little more. I think that’s the biggest difference.
âAt the higher level (college), it’s the structure. It’s just not a game for everyone. But I think it also helps your skill at playing AAU because you get the chance to practice some of those things that you were working on with your coach and whatever. But at the end of the day it’s a team sport and I think both platforms are good for evaluating kids.
Former McDonald’s All-American Tyler Lewis agrees with Hatchett.
He thinks today’s players are lucky to have both platforms. Lewis played in high school at Forsyth Country Day and later became the Virginia State Player of the Year at Oak Hill. He played college at NC State and Butler.
Lewis is now a regional scout with the North Carolina-based Phenom Hoop, and has said he wishes he had a high school event like this when he played.
âNormally,â he said, âplayers are more likely to shine in their high school team because their AAU team is so stacked up. But those are two totally different parameters. Some kids play better in high school teams. AAU, some play better in high school. So now you can see both metrics and see where they flourish in. It gives the coaches a better idea of ââwho they’re recruiting.
“I have the chance to show what I have”
National Rivals scout Jamie Shaw said the attendance of more than 100 varsity coaches at these events is nothing but a net positive. He notes that at a similar camp in South Carolina two weeks ago, a player received an offer from the SEC who was not a previously known rookie.
“South Carolina secured a commitment from Zack Davis (a point guard from Denmark-Olar), âsaid Shaw,â and he was a kid who might not necessarily be on the radar at an AAU event. They saw him with his high school team and not only did they volunteer, but he got engaged. So this type of event absolutely helps guys who might not be playing in shoe teams and gives them a chance to be seen.
And for players like Cannon’s Reeves, Shaw said playing a bigger role on the high school squad gives rookies a chance to answer any questions coaches may have while watching them on their travel teams.
âIt’s just a different look,â Shaw said. âSpeaking with the coaches, they are advocates for both. “
Reeves, a rising senior, said he had offers from Boston University, Charlotte, Houston Baptist, Lehigh, South Carolina, South Florida and Tulsa. Reeves should add to this list after a good week at Forsyth Country Day.
He blocked the shots. He bounced back. It showed a soft exterior feel.
He was also soaked. A lot.
âI have the chance to show what I have,â Reeves said. âThe last few years I’ve had injuries, and the most important thing for me is to keep the same level of play. I struggled with that (two weeks ago in the first half live High School). My body was in pain on the last day and the most important thing for me is to stay healthy all the time. It’s enormous. I know every time my team played we had a lot of coaches and a lot of us are looking at each other now, some of them are newer guys.
“It’s just a great opportunity for all of us.”