City/Suburban Hoops Report Three-Pointer: East St. Louis, recruiting changes and the NIL impact

A look at an emerging team from the southern part of the state, the continued impact of the transfer portal, and a scenario involving NIL that has changed the way we look at recruiting.

SHARE City/Suburban Hoops Report Three-Pointer: East St. Louis, recruiting changes and the NIL impact
East St. Louis’ Macaleab Rich (2) controls the ball against Joliet West during the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout.

East St. Louis’ Macaleab Rich (2) controls the ball against Joliet West during the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Here is a look at an emerging team from the southern part of the state, the continued impact of the transfer portal for the high school player, and a scenario involving NIL that has changed the way we look at recruiting and college coaching staffs.

The Flyers travel

East St. Louis coach Mark Chambers wanted the most exposure possible for his players.

There were two “live” events in June that were a whole lot closer for East St. Louis to attend than Riverside-Brookfield and Ridgewood. Chambers could have easily headed to Normal the first weekend and stayed very close to home the second weekend and played at Edwardsville, which is just a 20-minute drive from the East Side campus.

Instead, East St. Louis made the 300-mile trip on back-to-back weekends

“We want the type of exposure for our kids that they deserve,” Chambers said. “We know sometimes that the southern part of the state gets overlooked in comparison to Chicago.”

Chambers will have one of the better Class 3A teams in Illinois this coming season, a team led by senior Macaleab Rich. He’s a bonafide Division I prospect looking to grab the attention of college programs at the highest level.

“If we want to reach our ultimate goal, which is to finish our season playing in Champaign next year, it’s important to see and play these teams we would face there,” Chambers said.

While it’s not always easy to do so, Chambers admits they try to keep tabs on the top teams and players.

“We try to keep up with what’s going on up north,” Chambers said of the basketball played in the Chicago area. “We want to compete against the top competition, get a look at and play against the best teams and players.”

East St. Louis did just that and opened some eyes along the way.

Recruiting blues

There is still a backlog of players in college basketball due to the extra year of eligibility granted due to Covid. That means the transfer portal will remain extra full for a couple more years.

And, as noted numerous times, that means high school players continue to be put on the back burner when it comes to recruiting.

What that’s also done is slow down the evaluations for younger players. College coaches were so consumed with the transfer portal all spring long they hardly had time to truly do all their work on the Class of 2023, this year’s senior class.

The Class of 2024? Forget about it. Take a number, rising juniors.

Everything has been pushed back. Coaches were able to make their first direct calls to the Class of 2024 just last month, but the true evaluation of players in the class has been minuscule and just begun. As a result, the offers have been extremely minimal.

The two live evaluation periods in June were spent catching up on evaluating the Class of 2023 as they are set to begin their senior year.

NIL changes things

The true worth of college assistant coaches, at least as it pertains strictly to recruiting, has dramatically been altered.

That’s especially true for high-major programs and their assistants because their worth and value only goes so far when dollars and cents now rule.

And now, due to the wildness of NIL money that currently seems to have no boundaries or real known regulations, we are talking “legal” dollars and cents.

We are now one year into college athletes being able to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL). College athletes can now earn and accept money through endorsements, appearances, social media, and many other activities outside of their school.

Again, this has changed an assistant coach’s value as a recruiter.

Think about this for a moment. The old school, flat-out cheaters of the past and the dollar amounts they provided players and their families can’t even compete anymore with NIL deals. These “legal” NIL deals often dwarf those old, under-the-table cash payments and illegal inducements that were so prevalent in the sport.

More than a few veteran high-major assistant coaches have lamented to me recently that their way of doing business — utilizing developed, long-standing relationships — does very little if their school isn’t primed and ready with NIL opportunities.

And this isn’t apples and apples, even at the high-major level or even in the same high-major conference. All things are not equal in the land of NIL deals.

The Latest
College students who will be living away from home for the first time need to inquire about voting requirements in the state where they intend to live for the next year.
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ easily went through the Bears’ first-team defense (well, most of it) for a touchdown Saturday, but that’s not going to increase the urgency to get Smith back on the field. Still, Bears GM Ryan Poles will be challenged to have this impasse end well.
Raymond Comer, 37, was shot after officers “clearly directed [him] multiple times to not retrieve the weapon,” according to an arrest report.
About 5 a.m., a car was traveling south in the 7000 block of South Jeffery Boulevard when it ran over four males.
Victor Manuel-Reyes, 36, was arrested Friday after he was identified as the person who rode on a scooter and sexually assaulted women.