With the moves, on the move For Southern's Johnson, Calvert Hall's Bryant, nation their playground

The Recruiting Game

September 18, 1998|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

Isaiah Johnson could have used a secretary to keep his summer schedule straight. Reggie Bryant needed a trainer to tend to his fatigue.

Johnson, a 6-foot-7 junior forward at Southern High, and Bryant, a 6-3 senior guard at Calvert Hall, were fully immersed in the spring and summer schedule of camps and tournaments.

In May, Johnson played for the Boo Williams Club out of Hampton, Va., in the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions in Chapel Hill, N.C. In late June, he attended the NBA Players Association Camp in Princeton, N.J. He returned to New Jersey July 7-10 for the Adidas ABCD Camp, where he was the second-leading scorer in the all-star game for underclassmen.

From there, he joined the Cecil-Kirk Rec Center's team for the Nike Super Showcase in Orlando, July 17-19. Johnson then moved on to a tournament in California.

Asked the non-playing highlights of the summer, Johnson mentioned a trip to a splash park in Orlando. The NBA Players Association Camp, where the seminar topics included SAT preparation, AIDS awareness, substance abuse and computer skills, also left an impression.

"I heard some serious stuff," Johnson said. "They stressed that basketball can only take you so far, that you have to have something to fall back on."

Bryant is a mid-major prospect, one who is unlikely to be offered a scholarship by an Atlantic Coast Conference or Big East school, and the NCAA's July evaluation period was a chance to show his talent.

"The summer is when you can show what you can do," Bryant said. "You see who you're going to be playing in the future. You get a feel for the game at a higher level."

This weekend, Bryant will play for Baltimore Select in the 64-team Charlie Weber Adidas Invitational in College Park, but, during the summer, allegiances vary.

He began the July evaluation period at the Adidas ABCD Camp in Teaneck, N.J., where players from around the country were divided into teams and played for four straight days. Bryant was then picked up by Stormin's Classic, a team out of Wilmington, Del., for the Adidas Big-Time Tournament in Las Vegas.

After that, it was on to Orlando for the AAU Nationals with the Oliver Recreation Center Owls. Bryant was back home for his 17th birthday on July 26, and then passed on another week on the road for the Five-Star Camp in Coraopolis, Pa.

"We discussed Reggie's summer schedule at length last spring, and by the end of July, his mother said that was enough," Calvert Hall coach Mark Amatucci said. "My biggest fear was burnout. They play in the spring too, and he was going to go from November of his junior year to March of his senior year without much of a break."

By the end of July, many prospects are not at their best.

"There are so many tournaments, every day kids can play," said Mike Jarvis, the St. John's coach who is past president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. "You try to run a racehorse every day, you wouldn't have one. As the summer went on, you see more kids getting banged up and burned out. You end up doing a lot of baby-sitting, as opposed to evaluating."

The NABC's position is that the summer emphasis has taken high school coaches out of the recruiting process, but a case could be made that, with the exception of football, every other sport has the same problem. From sandlot baseball to club soccer, what the NCAA terms "non-scholastic" influences hold just as much power as they do in basketball.

Pub Date: 9/18/98

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