The NCAA announced significant changes to its rules on college basketball recruiting and player eligibility on Wednesday, including a scenario in which USA Basketball could eventually determine what “elite” high school players would be allowed to enter into formal agreements with agents in an effort to better explore turning professional while not losing college eligibility.

However, according to an ESPN report, officials from USA Basketball were “blindsided” by the NCAA’s release on Wednesday.

Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s vice president of of men’s basketball, said USA Basketball and the NBA were involved early on with the NCAA as the parties worked through the process.

“It doesn’t accurately define or depict how well and closely we’ve been working and communicating with them throughout this whole thing,” Gavitt said of the report.

Gavitt is one of the most powerful and influential voices the NCAA has, and he was intimately involved throughout as that organization’s Division I Council and its litany of working groups tried to write legislation that met the recommendations handed down in April by the Commission on College Basketball.  

But there is truth in the story, Gavitt said. Yes, the NCAA has been in continual discussions with USA Basketball, the NBA and the NBA Players Association on how to improve basketball on the whole from the youth level up. The understanding was that the USA Basketball would help but not be handed responsibility for evaluating and tagging “elite” prospects who were eligible to sign with agents. 

On Wednesday, a communication breakdown occurred with the NCAA. It became an unnecessarily messy situation, publicly, after a lot of private conversation. 

And that’s how the blindsiding happened.

“We’ve been communicating very, very, very regularly — and effectively — with them,” Gavitt said. “We could’ve done a little better job of communicating [Wednesday’s] news with them. I’ll just leave it at that.”

Ultimately, USA Basketball and NBA won’t be expected to make the determination of “elite players,” but they do want to be involved in the process because they already have a stake in the youth game. They are willing parties in this, Gavitt said.

“Look at what they’ve done with the youth guidelines,” Gavitt said. “They’re concerned about youth basketball and the health and well-being of those players and their development in very real, genuine ways. Not just the future LeBron Jameses, but all kids who play youth basketball.”



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