POMONA — Canyon Crest Academy rising senior Aaron Acosta stood and caught the basketball at half court and sprinted up the right side of the court. As he reached his goal, a player on the opposing team cut off his path, and Acosta stopped his dribble, turned to his right, faked a shot and deftly went under his defender’s shoulder, swishing a 15-foot shot.
On one side of the gym, Acosta’s parents cheered. On the other side, a handful of college coaches took out pens and scribbled quickly in their notepads.
This is “live period” basketball.
July 19 marked the beginning of the second National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball evaluation period in the month of July. It’s one of five weekends throughout the year (two in April, three in July), where college coaches can watch and evaluate high school and junior college basketball players at tournaments, showcases and camps across the country.
This current evaluation period runs from 5 p.m. July 19 to 3 p.m. July 23.
The final evaluation period takes place next week, with most of the action taking place in Las Vegas.
Players usually compete at these events with their travel teams — collections of talented players from different areas — so Acosta was surrounded by teammates from his Earl Watson Elite 2018 Silver team as opposed to his fellow Ravens from Canyon Crest. As a result, the caliber of talent at these events is often higher than at high school tournaments.
Coaches use the information gleaned about players at these events to determine who they will offer coveted basketball scholarships to. So for players like Acosta, these “live periods” are dates they circle on the calendar for months.
“For me it’s very important because we are getting seen in front of a ton of coaches and scouts,” Acosta, a 6-foot-3 guard, said. “Especially players like me, we are doing this for educational opportunities and the live period allows us to be seen by new people and it can give us great opportunities in the future.”
Acosta isn’t alone. Dozens of players from North County will descend upon gyms in Pomona, Anaheim and Garden Grove this weekend looking to impress the coaches who will be watching.
The scene in the gym at Pomona-Pitzer College underscores the importance of the weekend for student athletes: on one side of the gym, more than 100 college coaches from across the country sat on one side of the gym, pen and pad in hand, taking notes about players.
In many cases, coaches are already recruiting a player and are tracking his development and improvement. In other cases, coaches are looking for a specific position to fill on their team and their staff is scouring various events looking for players who fit their needs.
Ryan Silver, the tournament’s director and director of Acosta’s program, said that the live period provides players with a unique opportunity to determine the fate of their athletic and academic careers.
“It’s just very important for these kids to get an opportunity to play with other very good players and play against really good competition and a good opportunity to play high-level basketball,” Silver said. “It’s an exciting opportunity for these kids to play in front of 150, 180 coaches, we’re so blessed and grateful to have so many coaches in the gym. It’s up to the players to bring their ‘A’ game.”
Acosta, who was dealing with a cold, said he played OK: he scored seven points in his team’s victory over the Colorado Renegades.
“My shots weren’t falling today, being a little under the weather I think that might be the reason, but no excuses,” Acosta said. “Tomorrow’s a new day and we will come back and get another W.”