Basketball skills trainer Tion Watkins went off on Instagram about high school hoopers reclassifying. Reclassification means your official high school graduation date is different from a typical four-year high school start. This could mean graduating earlier or graduating later.
Why Did Tion Watkins Rip Reclassifying Athletes?
Watkins’ rant was a bit of an exaggeration as he referenced “16-year-olds on seventh grade teams.” But the point he was trying to make with his rant brings up the notion of fairness and a level playing field.
Parents and student athletes have been reclassifying and attempting to game the system for a while. In the football-crazed areas of the Southern United States, some eighth graders are held back so that they can physically mature before heading to high school to play varsity football.
Being a year older than the age group you’re playing against might allow an athlete to gain an advantage — even star — because of physical ability. This leads to more playing time, which would mean more eyeballs and interest from the next level.
Is It Worth Reclassifying?
Only 1 percent of high school hoopers earn Division I athletic scholarships. It’s extremely competitive, and even with reclassifying there is still no guarantee.
As long as there are big time college sports and there’s an opportunity to receive scholarships, student athletes will continue to reclassify so they can gain an edge.
Watkins’ rant was just as much about reclassification as it was about the changing dynamic of youth sports. With the advent of mix tapes, social media, and now NIL, it seems Watkins is afraid of what is to become of the next generation of hoopers and athletes.
At the end of the day parents and student-athletes can try and game the system all they want, but the talent will have to eventually answer and prove it belongs.
Challenges Of Reclassification
There are cautionary tales in reclassification. Emoni Bates was a can’t-miss prospect destined for the NBA who reclassified. He earned scholarships, but since then has struggled a bit. Now, at just 18 years of age, he’s already played at two different colleges. Maybe jumping around to different high schools and graduating early may have impacted his emotional maturity.
Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant weighed in on the Bates situation.
“I like that he’s going the total opposite route in life,” Durant told Yahoo Sports. “Leaving school early, transferring from Memphis, got arrested. Went through some s***. You gotta go through some s*** in this life to truly understand where you are.
“He’s playing good ball right now. He’s been through some s***. He’s a little more grounded.”
Maybe it works out for Bates, maybe it doesn’t. But when he thinks back on the decisions he’s made, he’s probably asking himself to what end they were all necessary.
Reclassification is what it is. It’s completely legal, though some probably stretch the limits of its intent. If someone thinks it’s the right path to their ultimate goal, then that’s all that matters.
Good or bad, you’ve got to live with the consequences, intended or otherwise.