Originally posted on www.qconline.com by Daniel Makarewicz
ROCK ISLAND -- Before Tyler Hall makes a varsity start, the Rock Island junior guard already has a Division I basketball offer.
How that happened reveals the changing landscape of college basketball recruiting.
Hall has played in two varsity games during his career, but utilized the summer AAU scene to display his talents on a national level. Even though he has yet to truly prove his game at the highest prep level, it did not sway college coaches.
"The AAU circuit has blown up," Hall said. "If you go and showcase your talents in front of a lot of people, they will see you and like how you perform. They'll start having interest."
Undeterred by his limited varsity experience, Hall received an offer from South Dakota toward the end of the summer while playing for the Quad City Elite. Iowa, Oregon, Illinois State, Northern Illinois, Northern Iowa and South Dakota State started showing more interest after the first offer.
Not a bad lineup considering what level Hall played as a sophomore.
"He's a good player," Rocky coach Thom Sigel said. "It says a lot about the guys last year and about our program that he could have played up (on varsity), but we just didn't need him. He's also a different player than he was last year."
In recent years, the summer seems to take precedence when it comes to recruiting. The AAU circuit now is a hotbed with more contact days from college coaches and more tournaments for recruits to get exposure.
From a local perspective, all this changed when the Elite formed two years ago. Before its creation, Q-C players would go to the Chicago suburbs, Peoria or Iowa for an AAU program.
Since its inception, the Quad City Elite has had two players -- Rockridge senior forward Ethan Happ and Rocky senior guard C.J. Carr -- make Division I verbal commitments at Wisconsin and Southern Illinois Edwardsville, respectively. Both received offers in the summer.
"(The AAU circuit is) where it came from," said Carr, who committed to SIUE last Tuesday. "The opportunities are there with all the coaches."
Sigel concedes that "college coaches want to see players play in high school, but AAU events are in the summer and you can see more kids." Without the AAU tournaments, he said college coaches still could find players at a slower level.
Seeing more players provides more opportunities for potential recruits. That appears to be a good thing.
"I'm all for it. It helps our guys," Sigel said. "They're getting a chance to get seen and play against good competition."
Above all, local players are getting more chances to be seen.
"There are a lot of good people from the Quad-Cities who are overlooked or underrated," Carr said. "There's a lot of talent here. To put it together, it's a great thing."
There is proof good things can happen in the summer.
"It will show kids it's not all about playing varsity right away," Hall said. "If you can play, someone will find you no matter what level you're on."
Even eighth graders are garnering offers, proving that varsity contests are not the only recruiting grounds. AAU tournaments truly are a recruiting smorgasbord.
Then again, the high school is more prevalent in a college bio.
"It's exciting," Hall said, "but I'm more focused on playing varsity and getting better."
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