When the September in-person evaluation period began last Monday in college basketball, at least one coach was on his way to watch practice at Huntington Prep in West Virginia when his compliance office called him and told him to turn around.
The message: Huntington Prep is off-limits as of now for in-person evaluation.
And so is Findlay Prep in Las Vegas.
Two of the major destinations nationally for elite-level talent and the coaches that pursue them are shut down for in-person recruiting until further notice, Yahoo Sports has learned. According to multiple college coaches and emails obtained from both the NCAA and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the two prep schools have been deemed “non-scholastic,” which in accordance with a Dec. 19, 2012, NCAA directive means evaluation outside of games is prohibited.
On Wednesday, Sept. 11, the NABC passed along an email to its members saying the following:
“There appears to be growing confusion amongst our members coaches on the legality on evaluating the practices or other activities (i.e. open gyms) at some of the prep schools across the country. As a result, we have asked the NCAA to share with us their thoughts on the situation to share with you in hopes of clearing up some of the confusion. Below you will find a directive from the NCAA on the matter.
“We hope that this helps clarify the situation and we will continue to monitor.”
Highlighted in the NCAA directive was the following from Jamie Israel in its department of academic and membership affairs:
“A team that is affiliated with a scholastic institution, but not subject to the rules and regulations of a scholastic governing body would be considered a nonscholastic team for purposes of applying the evaluation legislation set forth in Bylaw 188.8.131.52.1-(a). …At this time, the AMA staff has been presented fact situations involving two teams, Findlay Prep and Huntington Prep, and has determined that based on the facts presented and the above mentioned legislation and interpretation, both of those teams would be considered nonscholastic teams…”
That leaves coaches on the outside and unable to look in on several of the top recruits in the nation.
From the class of 2014, Huntington Prep has four high-level players: JaQuan Lyle, who Friday decommitted from Louisville just hours after telling Yahoo Sports he was firmly committed to the Cardinals; Angel Delgado, who is committed to Seton Hall; Jalen Lindsey, committed to Providence; and Josh Perkins, committed to Gonzaga. Among the class of 2015, Huntington has a five-star prospect in Thomas Bryant and a four-star recruit in Montague Gill-Caesar. Among graduates of the school are the No. 1 recruit of 2013, Andrew Wiggins, and former Louisville Cardinal and first-round NBA pick Gorgui Dieng.
“They’ve singled out a couple schools,” said Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford. “We’re trying to find out why [they] were targeted. It’s confusing, and it’s unfortunate because you do it that late. Now they’ve opened up a can of worms, because there are hundreds of schools not playing for state championships.”
Findlay Prep has Arizona commit Craig Victor and three other Class of 2014 standouts: Kelly Oubre, Rashad Vaughn and Jonah Bolden. Prime Prep is the school of national top-five player Emmanuel Mudiay, who shocked the sport last month when he committed to Southern Methodist.
Among coaches, there is considerable finger-pointing about who or what triggered the sudden application of a directive that is nearly 10 months old. But all are hoping this is a short-term problem that is ironed out soon.
“I bet it’s worked out in a couple weeks,” said one prominent coach.
Pat Forde is Yahoo! Sports’ national college columnist. He is an award-winning writer, author and commentator with 25 years experience in newspapers and online. This article is reprinted here with the written permission of Yahoo!