CNU's Krikorian: D-III recruiting a marathon, not a July sprint

As Division I basketball coaches began to crisscross the country Wednesday during the annual July recruiting evaluation period, their Division III counterparts take a more measured approach.

Where the Division I recruiting calendar is highly structured by the NCAA, the D-III calendar is limited only by a staff’s ambition and budget.

“It’s a blessing and a curse, obviously, because you could be out every day,” Christopher Newport’s John Krikorian said this week, before giving a talk at the Virginia High School Coaches Association clinics. “So you really have to find some sort of balance, especially when you know that if you’re not there, (Virginia) Wesleyan or (Randolph-)Macon or (Hampden-)Sydney are probably there.”

Division I coaches weren’t permitted to recruit off campus since late April, except for one brief period. The NCAA slotted three off-campus evaluation periods this month: July 10-14, July 17-21, and July 24-28. Of course, those dates coincide with some of the shoe companies’ biggest summer events.

Meanwhile, Division III coaches were allowed to visit prospects’ homes and high schools the entire time, as well as host recruits on campus visits. They could attend day and team camps that many D-I programs held throughout the month of June.

“It makes that July period a little more manageable,” Krikorian said, “where the D-1 coaches have to set their clock to that Wednesday at 5 (p.m.), Sunday at 5, and they won’t sleep and they’ll be at the gym every waking hour. We may have already seen those kids play several times, at team camps in June or seen them in May. So we’re able to spread out a little bit more.”

CNU, and other Division III programs, can’t recruit top-shelf players, so their focus and travel are a little different.

“For us personally, we try to stay in places that low Division I competitors might be, find kids that are a little under the radar,” Krikorian said. “Because if a kid we’re recruiting plays really well on that (big) stage in July, with Division I coaches there, we’re going to lose him.

“We try to be a little off the beaten path in July, although we have to go to a number of the main events. It’s just non-stop. It’s all the way through. The calendar doesn’t affect us that much, in terms of July.”

The Division I recruiting calendar is broken into various periods:

Recruiting period: College coaches can talk to recruits and their families on or off campus and can watch them play in person.

Evaluation period: Coaches can watch recruits play and visit their schools, but cannot talk to them off campus.

Quiet period: Coaches cannot have in-person contact with recruits or parents off campus. They also cannot watch recruits in person or visit high schools.

Dead period: Coaches cannot have in-person contact with recruits, but may phone, write or communicate via social media.

The three July sessions are technically evaluation periods. Dates and periods are tweaked annually.

Krikorian describes Division III recruiting as more marathon than sprint because of the lack of restrictions. Patience is required.

“We’ve got to cross our fingers in July and hope that some of (our recruits) don’t explode on the scene,” he said. “Our recruiting commitment cycle will be longer. We’ll be in there earlier, but we’ll have to wait longer. They have to feel really comfortable that Christopher Newport would be a great place, and then we have to wait and see if a Division I scholarship comes or not.”

Krikorian feels good about the direction of the program and the caliber of recruits and players with which they’re involved. The Captains went to their second consecutive NCAA tournament under him — their 19th NCAA appearance in the past 28 years.

Assistant coaches Roland Ross and Shawn Postiglione provide continuity and are adept at identifying the types of players and students that can succeed in the program. The campus and facilities, such as the Freeman Center, don’t hurt, either.

“That’s why we’re able to get kids on campus in May and June,” Krikorian said. “These really talented players are coming. We’re going to lose some of them. They’re going to be bonafide Division I players. But they’re choosing to visit our campus because of the tradition and because of the reputation and what they’re hearing about Christopher Newport.

“They’re willing to come out and take a day trip now and see, OK, what is this all about, how does it stack up to some of my other options. And then some of them will get Division I scholarships, some won’t. Those kids we want to be right there with, when they’re ready to find a home.”

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