The most prominent league for college basketball recruiting will not have a season in 2020.
Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League announced Saturday night that its 2020 season is done before it could ever begin. The April live period was previously canceled, and July was officially nixed earlier this month. Nike's statement on Saturday night confirms that even if an adjustment can be made for allowable in-person recruiting events later in the year, Nike won't be hosting any youth basketball gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic that's killed more than 105,000 Americans in less than three months.
The decision from EYBL officials is a detrimental blow to teenage basketball players everywhere. The EYBL circuit provides thousands and thousands of games for thousands and thousands of athletes to compete against each other and play in front of college coaches with opportunities to receive or enhance their scholarship opportunities. More specifically, most incoming seniors who will graduate in 2021 are being robbed of their biggest and best opportunity to help their chances at being offered at the best schools possible.
The EYBL and its prized championship event, the Peach Jam, has started the rise of future NBA stars like Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Trae Young, Ben Simmons, Andrew Wiggins and dozens more eventual first-round NBA Draft picks.
This message was posted Saturday evening to Nike EYBL's official homepage.
"As we continue to navigate the evolving impact of COVID-19, we are cancelling the remainder of the 2020 EYBL season.
This was not a decision taken lightly, but the health and safety of our athletes, families, fans and employees is our top priority. We look forward to bringing the EYBL back in 2021.
We understand EYBL has provided a platform for intense competition, showcased some of the sport's greatest talent, and gathered a strong community to celebrate their shared love for the game. To fill the void of play, we are creating an access-only, online portal of game footage for coaches, launching in June.
The 2020 EYBL athletes will always be part of the EYBL family."
What makes this decision interesting is the timing. On Thursday, 247 Sports reported that the NCAA and National Association of Basketball Coaches are actively collaborating to build potential evaluation periods in the late summer and fall, if local governmental and health officials permit it. The NABC is gathering information and looking into potentially scheduling evaluation periods in August, September and October, multiple industry sources told 247Sports.
"The current dates being targeted are Aug. 6-9, Sept. 4-6 and Oct. 9-11," 247 Sports' Evan Daniels wrote.
There's no telling if we'll get to a point in August, September or October where non-scholastic recruiting events could be pulled off. There is hope, and initial-stage planning, but that's it for now. Nike's decision comes with a lot of reverberation in the recruiting community. Coaches will now wait to hear what Adidas and Under Armour ultimately decide to do, and when, as those circuits are also highly attended and provide a playing stage for thousands of teenagers.