Coaches Colleges Recruiting

8th Grader Signs With Billy Gillispie

Kentucky jerseySo much for holding onto your Letter of Intent as long as possible. A 6’4 8th grader will not have to tour various college campuses, because at the moment, he is committed to playing basketball at Kentucky when he graduates high school. Don’t get me wrong, I have defended the point that high school athletes should sign LOIs instead of potentially screwing up their careers by holding off; however, in this case we are talking about an 8th grader! If the kid can get a scholarship offer now, I would hope that the family is confident enough in his skills to believe that the same offer will be on the table four years from now.

What good can come out of this scenario? Initially, it seems like Michael Avery and his family will get some good press. How long it lasts is another question. I doubt any shoe companies are calling him to endorse their products…he may get a single high school game on TV if ESPN2 thinks he is special. And I am sure that a few agents will start hawking Avery’s parents, which cannot be a pleasant thing when your child is 15-years-old.

So why do this? I would try to reach Kentucky Coach Billy Gillispie, but he is unable to respond because of NCAA rules…the same NCAA rules that ridiculously allow a college program to grant a scholarship offer to an 8th grader.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

14 replies on “8th Grader Signs With Billy Gillispie”

I actually see no reason not to do this. If I were the parents of Michael Avery and a high Division I school offers my son and scholarship before he reaches high school I would commit ASAP because in verbally committing you are not obligated to go anywhere. If for any reason another program that suites your needs comes along down the road, re-open your recruitment. That is how recruiting works today. Nothing is finite. Even when they sign an LOI, it is not set in stone. If the coach leaves, they try to leave too. Recruiting has changed vastly from 5 years ago. Nowadays, a kid should verbal to a program early to secure their spot in that class. Heck, his parents now have an offer from one of the most storied programs in the nation and he hasn’t even gotten to high school. Other kids could catch up to him physically, he could get hurt, his skills might not improve at the projected pace UK might have thought. But, it is rare that coaches take scholarships off the table (unless a new coach comes in) or off-court problem occur. So I say its a WIN-WIN for Avery and his family. Now he can relax.

My only problem with this is that many of these players never pan out. If you get recruited at an early age and lock up your school of choice, I would think it would lower incentive for such a player to improve his game. I have heard about other players getting recruited early and when it comes time for them to actually enter the college ranks, their game is not up to par anymore. Good for Avery, but we’ll see where he is in 4 years. That will be the true test of whether or not it’s a good move for Kentucky and Gillispie to do this. In effect, players are recruiting these players at even younger ages than Avery on the AAU level, they just don’t formally announce it.

I actually goto the University of Kentucky, and have been following coach Gillispie’s recruiting quite closely since his arrival. He obviously saw something special when he saw this kid. This is the same Coach that refused to recruit Scotty Hopson because Scotty still hadn’t de-committed himself publicly from Mississippi St earlier this year. This is a MAJOR WIN for the university of Kentucky since coach has now locked up a Commit for the 2010, 2011, and 2012 classes. Signing these commits early gives the players an opportunity not to worry about exposure and focus on fine tuning their skills to be able to play and perform at the top of their level for an elite program like Kentucky.

As we all know Tubby Smith wasn’t able to succeed down here due to his inability to lock down big time recruits. Coach G has stepped in and recruiting hasn’t been this exciting for quite some time. (since Pitino). However my only concern is that there are too many recruits that accept scholarships early and end up de-commiting themselves, or their skills end up peaking prior to college. With that being said that Coach Gillispie has an unbelievable eye for talent, and if he sees something special in 14 year old then why not welcome him aboard. I mean the kid is already 6’4 and plays a combo guard position and was named TOP 3 at the 2008 USA Elite Camp this summer.

If any college basketball fans are out there… beware of Coach Gillispie and the Kentucky Wildcats, because sometime in the near future, Kentucky will be like the Kentucky of old.

His parents better hope that this kid will continue to develop. Actually, there is no relaxation. If he does not pan out, Kentucky will recind the offer. Coaches will recind scholarships if another ballplayer comes along. That is the nature of the beast.

And lets not forget that Coach G is known as a great recruiter (a portage of Bill Self), and has managed to bring in top 25 classes to Texas A&M, as well as UTEP…. He know what he is doing… and BIlly G is a man of his word, as long as Michael Avery stays a team first player, with a hard work ethic, the scholarship will continue to be there.

Since the Letter Of Intent is purely such a document and not a contract, and an offer for the scholarship cannot be accepted under any reasonable future timetable, why is all of this really necessary? Both sides can break this agreement by the time Avery actually commits to a college. Should this even be news in the first place?

If this wasn’t Kentucky this wouldn’t be news. To most fan bases this isn’t very important, to Kentucky though, basketball is everything, and a commit from a potential future 5-star is just as good as getting a nice christmas bonus.

Just wondering, how is it possible to recruit an 8th grader? Aren’t there rules about talking to players before a certain year of high school? Back when LeBron was in high school, competing at AAU events, the coaches had to sit back away from the players and not talk to them.

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