The Ohio high school basketball season is under way.
Kentucky is set to begin prep ball this week.
The commonwealth of Pennsylvania was given the go-ahead by Gov. Wolf.
However, in West Virginia, high school sports have been put on the shelf with Gov. Jim Justice’s recent announcement to delay the winter sports season until March 1 due to a reported spike in state COVID-19 numbers.
There is a danger in all of this.
Will some West Virginia high school athletes, especially the seniors, leave and play out of state?
It’s a topic that has been discussed in message boards and social media.
The possibility is there that some athletes will choose to bolt from the Mountain State.
“I just worry about seeing an exodus of kids to other states that are playing,” Logan High School coach Zach Green said. “I really hope not. There’s as lot of variables in that equation as far as going somewhere else and playing and coming in mid-season and transferring back and trying to get eligible. There’s a lot of questions in that. But could you blame a kid who wants to go play and wanting that opportunity, especially if they are a senior.”
Green said it’s not fair to West Virginia’s prep athletes.
“This cripples our kids when the kids in the surrounding states can play,” he said. “It’s going to be tough for kids that are wanting to get a scholarship to play sports. The NCAA has granted a red shirt for all the athletes who played last year. Right now, there’s a group of kids in West Virginia that are seniors that have a limited amount of scholarships to play for and now, they are not even getting a chance to play. I have a good group of kids that’s worked really hard and have prepared themselves to get ahead. That might be stripped from them.”
Chapmanville coach Brad Napier said seniors and senior athletes should be allowed to repeat their 12th grade year.
“I think each kid should have the option to come back and repeat the grade that they are in,” he said. “Not only for sports reasons but for academic reasons as well. The colleges are letting their players come back for an extra year. That will enhance the scholarship offers for these seniors. Nobody is really talking about that. This year, there’s a whole class of kids that might miss being able to play at the college level in any sport.”
In the meantime, Logan County basketball coaches have been keeping in contact with their players in group chats.
What is the next move?
With practices being shut down presumably until at least mid or late February, how are area basketball players going to keep in shape?
Coach Green said he’s players have been out the cold playing basketball on their own on outside courts.
Man High School coach T.J. Blevins had another possible idea.
Blevins said he was able to talk to his players about the bad news, adding that he’s likely to have his players take part in travel ball until practices are allowed to begin.
“We had a group chat,” he said. “I tried to give our boys some positive vibes that we are still going to play. I’m going to have a guy travel with them some in some travel ball. That’s our intentions. These guys can’t be sitting around for two more months and not have somewhere to play.”
Napier said the idea of travel ball would be at least explored.
“I don’t really get mixed up in a lot of that. My kids play different places as far as AAU,” he said. “But that might be something that we might have to look into. I don’t like to do that because I like to be able to coach my kids, especially with a young team like we have. I like to be about to coach them from the ground up and teach and coach them what we need them to do. But at this point, I don’t know. Whatever they allow us to do we’ll do.”
Green said travel ball is an option, as long as it’s given the green light by the WVSSAC.
“We’ll have to wait and see what the SSAC says,” he said. “If the season is postponed and we do have another month and a half to start that would be the best thing for our kids to start playing if someone in the community would take them and travel with them and keep them playing, not only for their skill level but for also safety reasons so that they will be in somewhat good shape one the season starts especially if we are only going to have a few weeks to get ready for the season.”