Last week I put up the Maverik Showtime All-Star Game rosters and provided a quick recap of the event. Now that I’ve had a chance to let it all sink in, it’s time for a more in-depth look at Maverik Showtime, and recruiting events in general.
First I’ll work through the play on the field, then I’ll hit on what Showtime could do next year to stay at the top, and finally, I’ll lay out some of my thoughts on recruiting camps in general.
Game Play At Maverik Showtime:
Like I said in my initial report, I thought the talent level was incredibly high, and many of the players looked pretty polished and comfortable in tough situations. Considering these kids are only rising sophomores and juniors, the field presence displayed was impressive.
I can’t tell you how many times I saw a team bring the ball down, cycle it around for 6-9 passes, create space, and then dodge a shortstick defender from up top. It’s like almost every player on the field was conditioned to work in a standard issue NCAA D1 offense.
The positives to this type of play was that there wasn’t a ton of selfish lacrosse. Guys shared the ball and played team lacrosse for the most part. It also allowed many of the college coaches in attendance to assess how kids might fit in to their version of this base system. As a spectator, it made for a familiar version of the game. It was easy to see which players were “really” shining, because we all knew what to look for.
I put really in quotes above because the “dodge the shorty” offense also has its drawbacks. I saw very few impressive dodgers at attack. I’m sure they were there, but few got the reps needed to show their stuff. A couple impressed as finishers, but a dominant X-man? I didnt see one.
It also means that long poles don’t really get to showcase a chunk of their skills either. I saw very few takeaways checks, and just as few missed opportunities to throw them. The style of play simply didn’t allow for that type of stuff.
In a sense, it was somewhat conservative lacrosse, but it also mirrored the college game accurately, so I’m not sold on it being a good or a bad thing. For now, it’s simply an observation.
One other game play related element that really stood out at Maverik Showtime… The coaches on the sidelines were definitely “coaching”, and not just running a team of all-stars. Guys like Spencer Wright, Jojo Marasco and many more were dispensing knowledge, pushing their players, and genuinely trying to help the kids. I liked the vibe on the field, and the kids definitely seemed to enjoy themselves.
The world of lacrosse recruiting camps and events is extremely competitive. New events pop up every year, and it seems like the kids going to the events get younger and younger each year. There are now lacrosse events where rising freshman (kids who just finished 8th grade) can go to “get seen.” It’s an ever-growing, ever-evolving world, and staying on top is tough. So how can Showtime ensure future success without getting murky on the moral scale?
First off, I don’t think going younger is the answer. The rising sophomores I saw were good, but NONE of them are guarantees, and going any younger than that simply makes collegiate talent extrapolation too difficult to trust. PLUS, if you’re not yet a sophomore in high school, you should still be focused on improving, not being recruited or committing. Stick to rising sophomores and juniors, and maybe add in a rising seniors group for kids who slipped through the cracks. But don’t go any younger, please.
Another route many “elite” camps are taking is to beef up the gear component. Come to our camp and get custom _____. Sure, it sounds intriguing, and a great way to market some product, but it gets in the way of the real message: WE ARE THE BEST. The best care about being the best, so let the focus stay there.
Basically, if Showtime continues to pull in talented kids from all over the country by working hard, the coaches will keep coming in droves, and that will keep them near the top. If their focus remains on that, their reputation and name will carry them along nicely as well. If they create a real value-add (like a fallen through the cracks rising Seniors game), the top spot can be theirs for YEARS. Stay away from the flashy, stick to the purpose, and Showtime will rock.
Recruiting Camps, In General:
I personally believe that there are way too many recruiting camps for high school players and not nearly enough camps where instruction takes place in the morning, and team games are played in the afternoons. However, I know that recruiting camps and events serve an important purpose, so there should be a balance of teaching and exposure.
I also like the idea of recruiting camps offering lectures by NCAA representatives, or educated, non-biased individuals, who can inform the student-athletes on rules and answer questions the kids might not ask a coach or event organizer. Kids pay good money to go to events, and this type of education can be crucial. I can’t think of a better place for this type of thing to be offered.
In fact, any event that is labeled a recruiting event should be mandated to host a lecture like this. The organizers make money, the coaches get to see kids, and the kids get to try out, but they also have to pay… let’s make sure they really get their money’s worth.
Overall, the recruiting world has only gotten crazier in the past few years. Coaches finish the season, hit the recruiting trail hard for a couple of months, take 3 days off to spend with their families, and then they head back to work to prep for the first day of school, which for many, takes place in August.
Meanwhile, the kids finish up their high school seasons, hope to get noticed, and then run off for weeks and weeks of camps and tryouts and elite travel team games. By mid-July, many are actually burnt out and take time away from the sport, but the recruiting world just keeps on turning.
Maybe college lacrosse needs to create smaller recruiting window via rules and regulations. I’ve certainly argued that before. But it doesn’t seem like change is going to be forced upon us anytime soon by an outside force, so for now, we just have to hope that our path is a sustainable and viable one.
What do YOU think about recruiting camps in lacrosse? Are the age limits appropriate? How can these events be improved? We want to know what you think in the comments section below!