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Stacy Clardie/The JG
Purdue women's basketball coach Sharon Versyp and other college coaches use a break between games to peruse roster packets at the Fila Derby Classic in Louisville earlier this month.

Recruiting: Under the radar

Coaches go into the month of July with lists of tournaments, catered to watching athletes they've already targeted.

But, sometimes, while waiting to watch a game of that prospect, coaches can spot a player with potential who wasn't on their radar.

Matt Painter said that doesn't happen every year for him and his staff, but it happens.

Coaches can go eight months without seeing many prospects and then when they are out on the recruiting trail again in July, an athlete can look like "a new person" by sprouting three inches, gaining 20 pounds and having a boost in confidence, Painter said.

"That's why you have to keep your eyes and ears open," he said. "You also sometimes have to take a step back. Maybe you've recruited a guy for two or three years and you've put a lot of time into him and now you've recruited a guy for two or three weeks, and you might get that guy. You've got to be able to separate yourself and say, 'I have to do what's best for Purdue' and not what's best for your own personal ego.' Because your personal ego tells you, 'Hey, you put in all this time, get a reward from this.' Where in reality, it really doesn't matter, do what's best for your Purdue and for your program."

Oftentimes coaches are looking at the young kids -- the 2015s, 2016s -- to project their ability.

Painter joked a lot of them "are gangly, looking like Bambi."

Women's coach Sharon Versyp always scans the packets, loaded with rosters, for tall post players. Even if she's not familiar with the player, she'll try to pop over to a game to get a glimpse.

"If I watch them, I'll put a 'no' or I'll highlight and write something in detail (in the packet)," Versyp said.

That packet gets passed along to an assistant coach who may be coming to the same tournament. With packets often costing several hundred dollars for one, Verysp's staff usually shares them. Whoever is at a tournament first will either leave the packet at a hotel for another coach to pick up or they'll meet each other on the road to hand it over.

Then the next coach will be able to check out the previous coach's comments. It can be as simple as writing "good build" or breaking down a skill level, depending on how much a coach is able to watch a player.

Versyp likes to make sure each member of her staff sees as many athletes as possible. That way, it's easier to discuss the recruits as a group because everyone has seen each prospect.

"Some people have, you just recruit these kids, you recruit these kids and (the head coach sees) everybody but then all of a sudden the kid comes on campus and the assistant knows them but others don't," Versyp said. "That's not how I like to do it. I like everybody to have at least one phone call conversation when we can start making phone calls and that everybody can then say, 'No, she's got to get tougher or she needs to work on this skill. When I watched her play, I wasn't really impressed.' There are some kids we all can't see, but if three of the four can see it, I'm fine with that.

"Why you want everybody to see is because I could go, 'I don't know what you saw in this kid.' I'm like, 'This kid didn't make one shot. The shot didn't look good.' I'm not worried about making shots, but if a shot doesn't look good. I'm like, 'Sell me. Sell this kid to me because I'm not seeing it.' But we're mostly in agreement."