Jaylen Brown, the Class of 2015's No. 2 prospect in 247 Sports' national rankings, announced this week that he'll soon take official visits to Kansas and Kentucky, at which point his mother delivered a quote to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that's as sensible as any quote you could ever read from the mother of an elite-level basketball recruit.
Here's the quote from Michelle Brown:
"Jaylen waiting until [April or May to pick a college] is still on the table at this time. This is a very difficult decision, and I want Jaylen to be at peace with his choice and not be rushed. I also want him to feel comfortable that his choice covers where he can excel in both academics and athletics."
To be clear, I'm not too interested in the parts about how picking a school is difficult, or how it's best to not be rushed into a decision, because I think we can all agree that deciding where to enroll is hard for most, and it's rarely good for anybody to be rushed into making a life-altering decision. That goes without saying. So never mind all that. What I love about that quote specifically is the end -- the part where Brown's mother explained it's best for her son to wait so that he can ensure his choice covers where he can best excel.
Now I've been over this before in some form or another.
But it's worth repeating as recruits continue to make commitments daily.
Bottom line, here's the deal: If you are an elite recruit, i.e., a consensus top-15 national guy like Jaylen Brown, it makes little sense to commit to a school now or even during the early signing period in November given that you can't possibly be sure of three important things:
- Who the coach will be when you actually enroll.
- What the roster will look like when you actually enroll.
- How you might fit in with the coach and roster in place when you actually enroll.
Given that reality, why would any elite recruit commit early?
I've never understood it.
Granted, if you're a dime-a-dozen prospect, you should absolutely sign early if there's a school offering that you know you want to attend because, if you're a dime-a-dozen prospect, you don't have much leverage, and that school could move in another direction, leaving you with fewer options than you previously had or wanted. That's not ideal. So if you're a dime-a-dozen prospect, by all means, commit early, if you desire.
But elite guys?
Elite guys should always wait until after the annual coaching carousel has stopped and the deadline for underclassmen to declare for early entry into the NBA Draft has passed to ensure all the so-called cards are on the so-called table. Otherwise, you could get caught signed to a school with a coach you don't know and/or stuck on a roster that'll make it tough for you to get the minutes and touches you desire -- looking at you, Kentucky freshman Trey Lyles! -- and why would you voluntarily and unnecessarily put yourself in that position?
In fairness, there are a couple of reasons why you might do that.
One is if there's just a school you've always dreamed of attending and you genuinely do not care who the coach will be or how the roster might look. The other is if you're simply exhausted by the recruiting process and want it to end, which is certainly understandable.
"With unlimited phone calls and text messages and emails, the kids, goodness gracious, sometimes they just want to get it over with," Brown's summer coach, Ryan Falker, told CBSSports.com by phone Thursday afternoon. "I mean, you can look at Jaylen's phone at any given time, and he'll have 300 or 400 unread text messages on his phone. So that's one reason to commit early -- just to get it over with."
Again, I totally understand that.
But if you're an elite prospect like Brown -- or Malik Newman or Ivan Rabb or Skal Labissiere -- who can deal with the aggravation that comes with the recruiting process, it makes so much sense to wait for the reasons previously stated because there likely isn't a scenario where whatever school you'd prefer to attend won't have a spot for you, regardless of when you make up your mind. Coaches will tell you they might not, of course. But trust me, there's always going to be a scholarship available for a truly elite guy, one way or another. UConn finding one for Andre Drummond (even though UConn was out of scholarships) in August 2011, just days before classes started, is the most obvious recent example.
"Every one can't wait, but if you're an elite player you've earned the right to wait until the spring to decide," Falker said. "More times than not, even if there isn't a scholarship available, if you want to go to Kansas or anywhere else, they'll find one if you're elite."
So congrats to you, Mrs. Brown, for understanding this completely.
You and your son have all the leverage here.
Might as well use it.