Level-headed recruiting

Wednesday was a biggie on the NCAA Division I men’s basketball calendar – the start of three four-day recruiting periods for the summer. That’s a format change from two 10-day windows.

South Dakota State had some staffers on the road Tuesday night, coach Scott Nagy said, so that they could get to Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee to scout talent. That’s just the first cycle.

Actually, assistants Austin Hansen, Rob Klinkefus and Brian Cooley will do most of the scouting for new talent, while Nagy will focus his time on being seen by players the Jacks already know and like. Either way, this is an interesting summer circuit for the program, which (as you might have heard) is coming off its first NCAA Division I tournament berth.

Winning the Summit League championship was instrumental in gaining two commitments during the spring singing period, but SDSU doesn’t have any known verbals for 2013 (or beyond). There are four openings in that class, and Nagy would like to have at least two wrapped up in the early signing period. That would give the Jacks four acquisitions (at least; they continue to wait out some things for 2012) between their 2011-12 finale and their 2012-13 season opener.

Numerically, that’s about average (13 scholarship spots divided by four classes). But quality is more important than quantity. That’s where things get interesting.

Now that SDSU is an “NCAA tournament team,” it figures to be in a position to land recruits who aren’t short on D-I scholarship options. That may require patience … and multiple back-up plans. While there are differences between football and basketball, SDSU and NDSU both struggled on the gridiron after an early wave of success at the D-I level. Why? In part because they aimed higher in terms of recruiting and subsequently missed out on some of the kids they would normally get. Are the Jacks guarded against a similar situation in hoops?

Nagy addressed that this way: SDSU has long had to recruit more players than most because some rule out the program for reasons not directly related to hoops (location, for example), and some of its best recent players didn’t have many D-I offers.

"We’ve been able to identify those people who fit the mold of what we like and what will fit in here," he said.

In other words, the Jacks don’t have to change the way they evaluate prospects just because prospects might have changed the way they view the Jacks. The onus will be on the staff to see things clearly – that is, avoid fixating on next-level players – and move in a timely manner.

It’s another wrinkle in the ever-changing world of recruiting.

Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.