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ERIC SONDHEIMER / ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Call it a text edition on recruiting

New NCAA-approved rule will allow college recruiters to send unlimited text messages and make unlimited phone calls to prospects in an experiment involving boys' basketball.

June 03, 2012|Eric Sondheimer
  • Loyola standout point guard Parker Cartwright has a second phone used strictly to communicate with coaches.
Loyola standout point guard Parker Cartwright has a second phone used strictly… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

"OMG."

That's my reaction in text lingo to the NCAA rule change set to take effect June 15 that will allow college basketball coaches to make unlimited phone calls and send unlimited text messages to high school juniors and seniors.

Get ready for "Textageddon."

College coaches were banned from sending text messages to high school prospects in all sports five years ago, but everything is about to change with an NCAA-approved experiment involving boys' basketball players.

"Everybody's kind of unsure what's going to go on," Los Angeles Loyola Coach Jamal Adams said.

What's clear is that parents and players had better have a plan, because the greatest barrage of texts since the last Justin Bieber concert are about to be unleashed on 16- and 17-year-olds around the country.

Text messages were prohibited by the NCAA in 2007 over complaints about cost, excessive use and intrusion on prospects.

Changing technology, the rise of smartphones and the availability of unlimited text plans have created the environment to test a new way to communicate and recruit prospects.

The big-time prospects are the ones who could face the biggest challenge if they don't set parameters and guidelines for the coaches seeking to recruit them.

Loyola junior point guard Parker Cartwright has already been given a second phone by his parents that will be used strictly to communicate with coaches. They're hoping to limit contact with coaches to weekends only. That will probably work fine during the summer, but what happens when school begins in late August?

"That's our biggest concern," said Cartwright's father, Ramon.

He should be concerned, because when recruiters are given complete freedom, there's always one or two who will test the line of common sense.

Adams has been meeting with Cartwright and another top Loyola prospect, junior center Thomas Welsh, trying to prepare them for the onslaught.

Ditto for Bellflower St. John Bosco Coach Derrick Taylor, who will be huddling with the Hamilton brothers, senior Isaac and junior Daniel, on strategy for the coming changes in recruiting.

"I'm going to have to set boundaries," Taylor said. "Many of these assistant coaches, they will cross the line and call every day and show no restraint. It's going to be too much when they have to study and do homework."

Whether the players are ready or not, the texts and phone calls will come in rapid fashion.

"They'll be forced to grow up fast," Adams said.

The big questions: Will coaches behave? Will they be considerate? Will they go overboard on texting?

"Maybe it won't be as crazy as we think it will be," Ramon Cartwright said.

The approval to text, make unlimited phone calls and communicate more frequently with recruits could speed up the recruiting process. Some prospects might become so fed up they'll want to end it as soon as possible.

In football, the state's No. 1 prospect from the class of 2013, Su'a Cravens of Vista Murrieta, is scheduled to make his college announcement on Wednesday. He had insisted last fall he wanted to wait until after this coming season to make a college choice. But Coach Coley Candaele said Cravens was receiving nonstop communication from so many people that his smartphone was getting overloaded.

Imagine what the nation's top basketball prospects are about to experience. They're going to be the guinea pigs to see if a new level of communication freedom will work successfully. If it does, other sports could follow.

So get ready for the start of "Textageddon" one week from Friday.

The only certain winner will be the phone companies and the guy who says, "Can you hear me now?"

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATSondheimer

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