The Rebuttal: Basketball Factories


Jeff “huskylenz” Taylor wrote an intriguing post on the ethics of basketball recruiting in “basketball factories” aka prep schools that just pump out basketball recruits. You can read all of that here. He has some excellent points and some excellent insight into these “schools”. However, I would like to paint a picture from the other side of the coin.

First let me agree with him, there is a lot wrong with the way things have progressed in recruiting and in the way recruits are treated, both good and bad. Who is at fault? A shaky NCAA system, greedy people, and most importantly-selfish people. This could be all one in the same or complete different entities.

Miami has proven this, USC has proven this, Cam Newton, Terrell Pryor, and many others prove that the system is broken and there are a lot of people out there looking to exploit or to go around this system. HuskyLenz brought up an important example:

"There have been numerous articles written about these basketball factories in recent years, but things have gotten so bad that recently even fake-fake basketball academies are popping up. In West Virginia 20 high schoolers from around the world were discovered holed up in a 3-bedroom apartment without any food or money. The basketball academy they paid $500 up-front to enroll in turned out to be fake after they flew thousands of miles to join it."

Jaylen Beckham (a UW recruit) was one of these students that was tricked into this ‘West Virginia Prep’. He was known for not staying in schools and constantly transferring to other High Schools for various reasons. He texted me shortly after this school was suppossed to begin and said,

“This school is fake.” I assumed he was just not liking it and looking to transfer again. However, the next day articles popped up all over the internet about a fake “prep school” in West Virginia that left kids stranded. The founder of this fake school was just looking for a way to make quick money.

He was exploiting this system and finding a way to make money off of kids “aspiring to make it to that next level.” This is sad but not all schools are equal to this level. Many are doing just what they advertise.

The story that is not told about these ‘other real’ schools are the dreams that are found BECAUSE of these “basketball factories”. Let me tell a different story than HuskyLenz did of being an American teenager.

There is a young man named Anthony who is from Canada. He grew up loving basketball and playing basketball in high school. While he was a very elite player, he wasn’t getting much exposure. Most universities didn’t take the time to go up to Canada to see him play. However, one school did and that was a school named Findlay Prep. They saw his potential and invited him to come to their school where they would hone his basketball ability and at the same time keep him educated.

He was excited for this opportunity and decided to take them up on this offer, he went to Findlay and was “okay” but wasn’t amazing. However, now D1 schools were calling him and sending him letters. He was getting that interest, however, he wasn’t ready to stop getting better. That was what Findlay was teaching him. To keep getting better, to keep working hard, and he went from being a 3-star prospect his first year at Findlay to a 5-star and his coach said, “He is 100% different (better) than he was when he came here.”

Anthony Bennett, is now one of the most sought after prospects in America all because of the opportunity Findlay Prep gave him.

The same story is true of a young player named Manroop Clair, a 2013 UW recruit, out of Vancouver, Canada. He was able to get a chance to play for La Jolla Prep.

These “basketball factories” are doing exactly what they advertise and nothing less and nothing more. They are giving youth basketball players a chance for huge exposure and they are teaching them to play a better brand of basketball. All at the same time, making them eligible for college. Are academics on the back-burner? Clearly, but not entirely forgotten.

There are some prep schools; South Kent, Brewster, Westwind, that not only have a significant prep basketball program but also a solid school system. Those options are out there. While there are other prep locations; Findlay, La Jolla, that do exactly what they claim to do – there is not gimmick. Their focus is more on basketball.

Student athletes have the option to attend school either at home or at a prep school, and some CHOOSE to go to a school where basketball is the main priority year-round. In fact, prep schools are WAY BETTER at getting students academically eligible to play at the D1 level than a regular High School. This may be because of a broken system but these schools do know how to get athletes into college.

However, let’s be real- there is a lot broken in how recruiting happens on the jr. high, high school, and college level. No matter what your feelings are on Prep Schools. These problems all start and end with the NCAA. It is their system they have created and enabled it.