The Purdue men's basketball staff is expecting three players to sign during the early signing period. Purdue is expected to sign 6-foot-7 forward Rodney Smith, 6-foot-0 guard Maynard Lewis and 6-foot-10 center John Allison.
Starting today and running through November 19, approximately three-fourths of the available high school basketball players will make their verbal commitments official by signing a national letter of intent. Although Purdue will see its three recruits verbal, some players will opt to wait for the late period in April.
"The early period was started to try and relieve the pressure off the kids," said assistant coach Bruce Weber. "Plus, expense-wise, it saves money for the schools."
Before the early signing period, a recruit would have to wait until April of his senior year to sign with a school. This forced universities to use resources to keep in constant contact with the players to ward off the advances of competing schools. Contrary to the popular belief, schools do not necessarily back off a recruit after he verbally commits.
Weber remembers a situation where a Purdue player verballed to five schools before signing with Purdue.
"Melvin McCants verballed to every school he visited," said Weber. "Every visit he made in that early period he committed to someone."
"We were his last visit."
Horror stories can be heard from most recruits about the stress of the recruiting race. A school on the west coast once sent 400 pieces of mail in one week to a prospect in Chicago. Coaches, fans and media representatives call the homes of recruits all hours of the night to get the freshest information.
Any of these occurrences distract from what is important for a prospect -- enjoying his senior year and getting his academics in order.
Former high school All-American Glenn Robinson was encouraged by the coaching staff to sign during the early period so he could focus on academics.
"He ended up making good progress on his grades," said Weber, "but he just didn't get to where he needed to be. At least he tried."
There are still those that like the attention and the pressure, and wait to sign during the late period. Some players look for a better offer in the spring. Some choose to wait to see if a coaching staff will be intact at the end of the season. And some wait to see if the school they have chosen adds additional players at the same position.
"That's the reason why I think there are so many transfers," said Weber. "(This Player) didn't look at the situation close enough and now there are two more guards and he wants to transfer."
Trust between coach and player is the key to making a player comfortable with his decision to sign early.
"We tell kids we want them to be sure," said Weber. "Watch a practice before you make a decision. We want you to have a realistic view so that when you come you aren't unhappy."