8th Grade Is Too Late: Recruiting Begins Much Earlier

Darren HeitnerSenior Analyst IMay 5, 2008

Jashaun AgostoThat recent post on the 8th grader signing a Letter Of Intent with the University of Kentucky sparked a lot of discussion (let’s try to keep that trend going!). Whether it was a smart move by the kid’s family, and whether the University of Kentucky seems desperate is one issue. What about the fact that it is just plain creepy? If one of the best college basketball programs has resorted to going after talented kids four years before they are ready to play in the NCAA, you better believe that agents and sports corporations are recruiting these studs as well. Is it all a one way street, though, or do a lot of parents welcome the spotlight?

Tom Van Riper of Forbes.com, writes, One surprise: Unlike other kids their age, most teenage athletes haven’t capitalized on YouTube and other Web forums to create their own buzz. Van Riper obviously did not research hard enough for his article. I get an email about once a week from parents of a kid named Jashaun Agosto (pictured right). Jashaun is not an 8th grader…he is 11 years-old! His father created a YouTube account to display Jashuan’s game. The title reads, Best Basketball Prospect in the U.S. How about other Web forums? Jashaun has over 500 friends on his MySpace page.

The kid has ridiculous skill. Van Riper was talking about teenage athletes not capitalizing on YouTube and other web forums. I guess he is right…they are using new technologies to market their skills at an even younger age. There are two ways to look at this.

  1. Jashaun already has a strong following, rooting for him to eventually be a star in the NBA. He has been featured on ABC World News Tonight, a local news station, CBS sports, Good Morning America, and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Corporations will start to take notice, if they have not already done so…and so will universities and agents. The work that Jashaun’s parents are putting in now may eventually lead to big bucks.
  2. Can it get too be too much, though? Will Jashaun get overwhelmed by it all before he has a chance to truly show his skills on a large stage? Only time will tell.

In the mean time, his family is generating some great press for their talented son. I would love to have the chance to represent a kid with that type of talent once he becomes of age. While I will maintain an ethical position and refrain from offering incentives to Jashaun and his family, will all agents do the same? I am optimistic and hope that agents will keep their distance and Jashaun’s family will be wise enough to put up a barrier in order to protect their son’s future.