There’s a common misconception about the country’s elite high school ballers when it comes to the NCAA’s early signing period, which begins today and runs through Nov. 16.
“Sometimes people think we wait until the spring so we can be the last one to sign,” said Shabazz Muhammad, a senior swingman at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and the top player in the ESPNU 100. “That’s definitely not true. Trust me; I’d rather be signing with everyone else this week. I’m definitely not doing this for attention.”
Muhammad will likely decide and sign in the spring; a mistake to hear some of his fellow ballers tell it.
We caught up with five players and had them dish on the top five reasons why it’s better to sign early.
5. Reduces stress.
Yogi Ferrell, Park Tudor (Greenfield, Ind.), 2012, PG
Signing with: Indiana
“The recruitment process can be one big headache with all of the media interviews and all of the coaches calling and you having to remember to call them back and things like that. When you sign during the early period you sleep better because there’s no stress. That stuff is stressful and it gets to be a lot when people are constantly asking you where you’re going. I definitely know that I’m reducing my stress by signing this week.”
4. Stops the calls from coming.
Rasheed Sulaimon, Strake Jesuit (Houston), 2012, SG
Signing with: Duke
“When you’re open you get so much attention from all of the different media sites wanting to know who your favorites are and what the visit was like that you just went on and what coach you talk to the most. It can be a lot with all of the practices we have and all of the work we have during school. Plus, on top of that, you’ve got all the coaches calling you to try and get you to their school and checking on you to see if you’re still open to their school. But when you sign on the dotted line all of that stops. I guess it’s not as big a story when you already know where you’re going, but when your phones not ringing all the time it gives you more time to work on what you need to work on.”
3. Gives you credibility to actively recruit other players.
L.J. Rose, Westbury Christian (Houston), 2012, PG
Signing with: Baylor
“When you’re committed it’s one thing, but when you sign with a school it shows a higher level of commitment to that school. That only shows the other players that you’re trying to recruit to join you that you’re actually coming to the school. People de-commit all the time so if someone was trying to get me to join them and they were committed but said they were waiting to sign in the late period I would be a little skeptical about that. Maybe they’re looking to see who will jump on them late? To go ahead and sign now lets the players know how serious you are about them joining you. It helps sell your school better.”
2. Gives you time to work on your game.
Marcus Paige, Linn-Mar (Marion, Iowa), 2012, PG
Signing with: North Carolina
“Basically, during the season you’re busy practicing with your team throughout the week and playing games so most of the time any individual work that you do is on the weekends. That’s hard to do when you’re traveling to different schools taking unofficial and official visits every weekend. It leaves you no time to get those individual workouts in to work on the weaker parts of your game, but when you’re signed you can have your weekends to work on everything. Plus, you’ll have the coaches from your future college chiming in on what you need to work on during those weekend workouts. That’s the best part about signing during the early period; it frees you up to work on your game.”
1. Allows you to focus on your season.
Justin Anderson, Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.), 2012, SF
Signing with: Virginia
“When you sign early there is absolutely no pressure on you to perform well enough to land the best scholarship possible. That’s everyone’s goal. So when you’ve already signed you’ve already reached your goal and you can kick back and relax and go into your last season ready to dominate and win. People don’t understand how much pressure deciding on a school is. You can’t honestly say that your main focus is on your season when you haven’t signed yet. That’s why it’s so important to go ahead and get that out of the way before your season starts.”