With the evolution of both the events landscape and recruiting as a whole, Adrenaline’s launch of Atlantic Coast Prospect Games (November 11-13) has brought on a lot of positive buzz and curiosity. Designed to be an “all-in-one” prospect weekend in front of three coaches from each ACC school, over 200 players in the classes of 2019 and 2020 will head to Florida to get coached, evaluated and acquainted with some of the nation’s most successful programs.
I recently caught up with Adrenaline president Alex Cade, a Notre Dame alum, to hear more about the ACPG. For more, check out the event site.
TX: Can you describe the event format?
AC: The Atlantic Coast Prospect Games will last three days and host 225 players across two grad years (2019s, 2020s). All of the ACC programs have committed 3 coaches, one head coach and two assistants to coach at the event. These staffs will each lead two teams, one at each age group, made up of top prospects named in the likeness of their programs. These teams will get authentic and intensive NCAA level instruction, practices, film sessions and everything else you would expect out of an NCAA-run program. The interesting part (or another interesting part) is that these teams will be ranked according to where each ACC program finished in the ACC and play in a competitive tournament. Players and coaches will compete against one another for the ACC prospect title. All players will be geared up via Adrenaline to the nth degree.
TX: How did this concept come about?
AC: Having been in this industry for 16 years with Adrenaline, I am very fortunate to have built some great relationships over time with the top minds and influencers in the game. The ACC coaches are certainly at the top of that list. Getting a chance to talk to these great leaders on a regular basis is not only an honor, but it also allows for some impactful discussion to occur on various topics within our sport. The constant is being sure that what is happening in the sport is truly serving the best interests of the players. The ACPG is one of those concepts that evolved during some of those discussions as these coaches look at the landscape of our sport and are naturally compelled to ensure the health of the game is intact. So, after one of these discussions I presented the idea to our great team at Adrenaline who spun the general concept into a unique, competitive and fun event that will be industry changing.
TX: What conditions in the market are making this concept a powerful one?
AC: Complicated question considering the speed of change.
#1 – I will say that being a college coach is harder than ever and the marketplace is not making it any easier. From a pure time and resource standpoint, these guys are pulled in a ton of different directions. Their weekends are beyond full and they don’t truly have the opportunity to get the intensive looks on players like they used to. This to me is a dangerous place for our sport. It is vital the top coaches, minds and influencers at the apex of our sport have the time and resources to push the game forward and also provide it the proper direction. Our current marketplace is flooded with recruiting events, many making false claims on effectiveness. Unfortunately, for various reasons collegiate coaches feel pressured to attend some of them and as a result they become spread way too thin to be as effective as they want to be.
#2 – Getting more kids recruited is our goal, but also reconnecting the NCAA coaches with the players from an educational standpoint is important for us at Adrenaline. Simply put, there are too many events now that are ineffective and formulaic.
For instance, the hands off approach where there is a ton of media hype, players pay the fee, operator pays the recruiters to sit on the sidelines, and they roll a ball out and wish everyone good luck. Despite some of these events being good ones we want to steer the industry away from this model that is removing the NCAA coaches educational and coaching influence on these young players. The NCAA coaches are the best at what they do and evolve the game in real time. Allowing the NCAA coaches the opportunity to be able to slow down at a recruiting event and actually coach the players in a meaningful way where they can connect with those young minds will undoubtedly have a ripple effect on the market. These players will go back to their communities with new knowledge, perspective and motivation that will in turn allow them to be stewards for the youngsters in their area.
TX: What are the goals for this event?
AC: The goals are the following –
- Provide valuable recruiting opportunities for a wider national birth of top players.
- Provide a valuable opportunity for collegiate coaches to interact with top prospects in a fashion that is meaningful and valuable to them.
- Reconnect the top NCAA coaches and influencers of the game with the players within our sport in a meaningful way that creates excitement and spreads the knowledge of these coaches back into the communities.
- Provide a value proposition that cannot be found anywhere else: a weekend of intensive coaching from full NCAA coaching staffs and competitive game experience for the top HS players in the game.
TX: How is this different from other events?
AC: I am beating this point to death, but having full coaching staffs engaged with these players all weekend long as if they are playing for a real NCAA program is powerful and should spread knowledge back to the youth communities. Additionally, the competition through the ACC prospect championship format should be fun to watch. Having the staffs from these great programs coach against each other with high school players will be awesome. Again, the conference-centric approach really allows the coaches to engage heavily with the right players and these players benefit from being recruited holistically and not just based on a few snippets of play. The players will also be geared out to a ridiculous level with unreleased industry leading apparel.
TX: What types of players do you expect at the event?
AC: We expect a very high caliber of play at this event. ACPG is certainly catered towards that upper echelon of talent and influencer that will truly receive the maximum benefit of this level of play and coaching. We want these players to leave the event as community ambassadors helping spread the wealth of knowledge that they gain from the top coaches in the world within their local communities.
TX: How has the event been received by the industry?
AC: It’s been very positive. I think others can recognize a certain level of ineffectiveness and frustration with the current state of the recruiting event landscape. Adding an event series that simplifies this process and reconnects the coaches and players really rings true with a lot of people.
TX: What do you see as next within the events marketplace?
AC: In my crystal ball I see the landscape correcting itself. We have had an explosion of “recruiting” events nationally. In the next five years or so only events that are truly effective at getting more players recruited and connected with NCAA coaches in a meaningful way will succeed and naturally begin to weed out some of the other non-effective events in the marketplace.