M.J. Rice wasn’t being judgmental, he just simply didn’t get it.
Even in a pandemic, seeing droves of seniors committing to colleges sight unseen was a bit unsettling for Rice.
“I couldn’t help but to think about how crazy that would feel to commit somewhere I’ve never been to,” Rice said. “I couldn’t imagine that.”
The unimaginable was forced on a significant number of seniors after COVID-19 shut down college sports in March. The NCAA extended the dead period eight times over the past year, but last weekend announced that sports would return to normal recruiting calendars on June 1.
That means Rice and other players in his class and other classes can get back to racking up the frequent flyer miles and take visits.
"We want to thank all prospective student-athletes, their families, coaches and current student-athletes for their patience as we determined the best way to move forward safely with recruiting in Division 1," NCAA Division I Council Chair M. Grace Calhoun said in a statement.
Expect elite recruits to flock to campuses on day one.
The quiet period, which means face-to-face contact on college campuses only, runs from June 1-July 5.
“I’m relieved about that,” said Kell (Marietta, Ga.) point guard Scoot Henderson, who was named the SI All-American team. “I want to be able to get to the campuses and see what they look like. I haven’t been on an official visit yet, and I couldn’t imagine committing without seeing the school.”
That was Ypsi Prep (Ypsilanti, Mich.) combo guard Dillon Hunter’s reality back in February.
Before he committed to Baylor he had reservations about ending his recruitment, wondering if he was rushing his decision picking a school he’d never seen in person.
Two months later, he’s clear that come June the only school he’s looking forward to seeing is in Waco.
“I’m definitely comfortable with my decision,” Hunter said. “I plan to get down to Baylor sometime in June. It feels good to know that I picked the right school, even in a pandemic because I know guys that are committed that are rethinking their commitments.”
Rice said he’s heard similar stories from his peers eager to trade in Zoom pics for trips.
“Now that we can get out to see these schools, we all want the full experience,” Rice said. “I think with all the transfers we’ve had this season it’s smarter to get out and see schools to make sure; whether you’re committed or not.”
AZ Compass Prep senior point guard TyTy Washington, an SI All-American Second Teamer, was forced to rethink his commitment to Creighton in March when Creighton coach Greg McDermott was reinstated following a suspension for racially insensitive “plantation” comments made after a loss.
Now, he’s back on the market and will have to pick from a list of six schools – Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, Kentucky, LSU and Oregon – five of which he’s never seen.
“I won’t get to wait until June 1 either because I’m a senior and that’s just too late,” Washington said. “It’s pretty crazy because when I committed to Creighton, of course I’d seen it and everything. The funny thing is when I was committed, I used to say how crazy it was that guys had to commit without having been to the campus. Now, here I am. I know it’ll work out, but I’m happy that the guys behind us get to get out to campuses again. That’s the best way to make the best decision.”