November 22, 2009

New Service Helps with the Recruiting Process

Kevin McCarthy
 

It can take on the feeling of being lost similar to floundering around in one of those puzzling mazes. You advance a little further, thinking ‘oh yes, this seems familiar’ then turn a corner or round a bend and the sense of being lost amplifies yet again. Any ‘lifelines’ to the outside world are few and far between, hidden in similar obscurity and not necessarily reliable. We’re talking the NCAA athletic eligibility process here, which has more twists and turns than a Dan Brown novel. Without speaking Clearinghouse, all can become close to undecipherable to newcomers. However, Pastor Horacio Jones is doing his best to change all this.

photo of Pastor Horacio Jones Pastor Horacio Jones

Quick, as a parent of a high schooler possessing athletic college scholarship potential, do you know what the NCAA deems as approved core classes? Or how many must be taken and passed and at what minimum grade in order to be eligible for an NCAA athletics scholarship? What is a qualifying SAT or ACT score? Can college courses count as core courses?

Even for those in the so-called know, it’s difficult to hang with the trail of ‘yes buts’ and ‘ifs’ that populate eligibility-ese

Pastor Horacio Jones experienced just such a perplexing predicament when his son Chris finished at Newark Memorial High (near Oakland) a year ago. There was an agreement with Fresno State, then a year layover at Westwind Prep in Phoenix followed by a final landing at San Jose State. Chris’ circular route to college and D-1 basketball spurred his father to want to educate other parents regarding what is necessary to know and do in order to navigate the puzzling intricacies they will encounter.

Hence his establishing "The Parent’s Recruiting Resource Center (PRRC)," scheduled to officially launch in March, 2010. The primary purpose of the PRRC is to connect parents to vital information necessary to understand and maximize their son’s or daughter’s athletic and academic development vis-à-vis college eligibility. Jones explained, "Our focus is on educating parents. It’s also important to understand that our service is not a recruiting service. Instead, we focus on connecting parents and keeping them educated and informed. Parents connecting with parents is a key component."

He continued, "Parents are often out of the loop about this process and time and time again it’s been demonstrated how needed a service like this is," Jones said. "Parents have learned that some guidance counselors and/or coaches are unaware of NCAA Clearinghouse requirements."

Jones will be operating seminars to interested parents and is also developing a website that will detail the information that is needed.

But he cautions that the academic chapter and verse that is critical to establishing college athletic eligibility is but part of the body of need-to-know information.

"We will also be disseminating knowledge that is critical to the recruiting process such as how to evaluate schools, basketball programs, the actual level of interest, what letters, notes and phone calls mean, what to find out on unofficial and official visits and the like," Jones explained.

Carl Foster, currently the Athletic Director of the Richmond Police Activities League but previously a longtime member of the Slam N Jam Youth Basketball Program and mentor to dozens of Bay Area basketballers and their families, is supportive of Jones’ endeavor. In fact, he invited Jones to speak at the Hot Prospects Camp and the Super 100 Camp that Foster operates.

"A number of parents came up to me afterwards and said complimentary things about the usefulness of the information they received," Foster related, adding "It’s needed because I wouldn’t expect one person to know everything. Pastor Jones will become a staple at the Hot Prospects Camp."

Foster offered, "High school athletes have a unique set of criteria to meet; certain classes and SAT scores are needed. It’s a huge weight to put on or expect the high school coach to oversee the process. Plus, guidance counselors, while professional at their craft, work with 400 kids on average but very few of that number will be attending college on an athletic scholarship. It’s a misnomer that all the information parents need will come through the school system."

For Foster, it’s a committee effort when done well. "I see the parents, the high school coach, the AAU coach and the guidance counselor working collaboratively and even involvement with college compliance officials coming into play," he said.

As a parent, Jason Webster Sr. will soon be facing all this -- actually, he already is. With his son, Jason Jr. a freshman in high school "all this is totally new even though I played college basketball and professionally abroad," he explained. In his day, "I think my school sent out my transcripts to the college I attended and that was that. There are so many more details involved now like if my son gets a C instead of a B in a certain course then how does that affect his core grade point average?"

Webster was present at one of Jones’ seminars. Here is his description: "It was very, very, very enlightening and revolutionary -- a great service. It’s all about what we need to do to prepare and how to prepare. Before, I felt we had plenty of time but now I know the process starts when my son first steps foot on the high school campus."

His best advice to a parent: "Take it upon yourself as a parent to own the process."

For information you can reach the Parent’s Recruiting Resource Center at horacio.jones5@att.net.