As the college basketball season and study semesters in both the USA and Canada come to a close, state leagues around the country are being flooded with the return of star players.
In Victoria, particularly in the Victorian Youth Championship (VYC) divisions, there has been numerous players returning to local action. It is now unusual not to have a college player come back into the fold mid-season.
The VYC division is an 23 years and under competition which is made up of both Big V and SEABL clubs. It is a feeder competition into their senior teams.
There are three main talking points when it comes to college players returning, and they are not necessarily all positive.
The Star Factor
The players that come back from the college system are normally the high performing stars of the team. Thus, when they return the team's confidence normally goes through the roof.
Ben Waterhouse of the Knox Raiders
There is nothing better for morale than having your go to player back in the rotation. He/She will normally make the other players better purely through an increase in everyone's confidence.
Depending on position, an opposition's best defender will most likely be the matchup for any returning college player. This in turn frees up players who would have previously been the focus of the defence.
You can normally rely on college returnees giving you at least one or two more wins because of their involvement.
Finding a balance
The VYC season has just passed its halfway point, thus teams have settled into their groove. Most have established a system and an understanding between all involved.
When throwing a new player in the scheme, one who would undoubtably command a starting spot, this can create some friction and instability. A team who has played and trained together for months has now been completely turned on its head because important factors of the team change (rotations, positions, etc).
Coaches know they must utilise these returning players to their full ability, however they also must find a balance between using their skill set properly and keeping the rest of the core unit committed. There is no way you are going to reject a highly skilled college attendee into your team, but how you use them is just as important as having them in the first place.
GOING, GOING, GONE?
It is known that some college players return to their schools before some of the state league season's are over. Such things as summer school, sightseeing, and returning to partners are catalysts for going back (overseas) early.
Alex Sharp of the Diamond Valley Eagles is off to Wake Forest
This then raises the question of where a team will be, if come playoff time their college player(s) has already left. Another shift in personnel, rotations, and potentially systems are likely to have an effect on the players that remain.
Therefore are teams potentially worse off in the long run if players are returning from college, and then going back before the season is out?
It would be difficult to say that the return of a college player(s) is negative overall, however there is some merit to the counter argument. Either way the excitement will continue, as playoffs come closer in numerous leagues around the country.