Over the past week, there has been a lot of negative talk about Josh Selby's decision to de-commit from Tennessee. Dana O'Neil even wrote a piece that came damn near criticizing recruits who change their minds.
Sometimes, it goes the other way as well.
Kendall Williams, a rising senior from Rancho Cucomunga Los Osos High School, committed to UCLA after a stellar freshman season. But he never quite developed into the player that Ben Howland thought he would turn into, and this past week Williams ended his commitment.
Now, the article does not specify exactly how the commitment ended. Ben Howland could have told Williams that he did not want the 6'3" PG anymore, or Williams could have figured out on his own that he was not talented enough to be the Bruin's PG of the future. Williams went on record saying that there are no hard feelings between him and Coach Howland. Howland was on the road during July recruiting some of the top PG's in the class of '10 (namely Ray McCallum of Detroit Country Day).
And its not like Williams will end up without a scholarship. Fellow Pac-10 schools Stanford and Cal (among others) are still recruiting Williams.
For the record, this isn't the first time Howland has parted ways with a committed recruit. Taylor King committed to UCLA after his freshman season at Mater Dei, but ended up going ot Duke under similar circumstances (maybe Kevin Love?).
But the belies the point. This is precisely why it is not a good idea to recruit kids that are that young. Boys grow and mature physically so much between the ages of 14-18. If a kid is a star when he is 14, you really don't know how he is going to develop.
Is he really that much more talented than his peers? Did he just happen to hit puberty and a growth spurt early? Will he still be as dominant when everyone else catches up with him in size and athleticism?
The other issue that arises is work ethic. If you are a recruit and you have yet to commit to a school, there is always going to be that motivation to improve. If you are getting letters from the SoCon, you want teams like East Carolina and Charlotte to take notice. Once those schools start sending coaches to games, you want ACC schools to notice. If NC State offers a scholarship, you want UNC and Duke to offer.
Once you commit to a school, it is only natural to feel a bit of relief, and the danger is that a kid can become a bit complacent, feeling that he has "made it". When you are 17 or 18 you should be mature enough to understand that in order to succeed at that level, it is going to take hard work.
But a 15 year old committed to UCLA?
When I was 15 I thought I was the man when I made varsity. The risk is that the recruit becomes too complacent, too cocky, and believes that he does not need to improve anymore.
I'm not saying that this is what happened to Williams, but you never know.
The best advice I could give any elite prospect is this: take your time. If the offers are there at 14, they will be there at 16 and 17.