Trey Kaufman never left the state of Indiana for his final and abbreviated AAU basketball season. The pandemic made the normal Adidas Gauntlet national schedule for his Indiana Elite 2021 team impossible.
Travel restrictions are in many ways defining Kaufman’s recruitment as well, as the Sellersburg, Ind. product enters his senior year of high school.
The 6-foot-8 Kaufman has received offers from all over the country during the pandemic, including North Carolina, Virginia, Clemson, Wake Forest, and Texas A&M.
Trouble is, Kaufman has never been to any of those schools.
The NCAA has banned all in-person visits since March, and it doesn’t appear likely to soften that stance anytime soon.
IU head coach Archie Miller said recently that he believes that there will no visits allowed into 2021, and that sentiment has been echoed throughout the college basketball landscape.
So where does that leave Kaufman? He knows what he wants to do.
“I want to wait and see if I can go on visits, but it’s hard to tell,” Kaufman said.
Recruiting is currently in a dead period through August 31.
While he would like to takes the visits, Kaufman doesn’t sound like someone intent on waiting until the spring.
If the NCAA acts as expected and extends the dead period once again, that could be an inflection point for Kaufman.
“If it gets pushed back anymore, you never know,” Kaufman said. “I may have to make a decision. I’m not sure yet.”
Could he try to ride things out all the way until the spring?
“I’m not 100 percent sure,” Kaufman said. “That part is not mathematical. If it feels right, it’s right. If it is too long, it is too long.”
One reason that Kaufman values live visits is the opportunity to meet prospective teammates.
While he knows many players on the IU roster, its a different story when it comes to the out-of-state programs that he hasn’t visited.
“You try to do the best job through virtual visits but it’s hard,” Kaufman said. “It’s very hard to get a sense of players. I want to know who is on my team. I want to meet with the players. You can’t do that on virtual visits.”
Kaufman recently received a high profile offer from North Carolina. It is believed by many that he is intrigued by Virginia.
But Kaufman has never been to either school. If he feels it is time to make a decision prior to the NCAA allowing visits, the odds will be stacked against those two schools.
“It would be very hard to commit somewhere I haven’t visited, just because of (not knowing) the players and the culture,” Kaufman said.
Even a so-called blue blood like North Carolina likely wouldn’t carry any added significance or alter Kaufman’s thinking.
“Big name school doesn’t really matter to me,” he said. “It’s all about perfect fit. I’m going to go where the perfect fit is and wherever is best for my family.”
While Kaufman still doesn’t have clarity on how the final stages of his recruitment will play out, he does have a plan in place if his final high school season doesn’t happen.
That would be a particularly heartbreaking outcome for Kaufman and his Silver Creek High School teammates. The Dragons won the 2019 Class 3A state title during Kaufman’s sophomore year. The core of that team remains for the 2020-21 campaign.
Could they actually miss out on two chances to defend their state title?
Of course no one has that answer right now, but Kaufman has already been planning for the possibility.
“If my high school season gets canceled I am going to make a decision early for sure,” Kaufman said. “I’m going to try to redshirt one year.”
Kaufman isn’t sure how that might play out, whether via reclassification, mid-year enrollment or otherwise. But the idea would be to get on a college campus and starting workout out with high major basketball players every day.
If he were to choose a place like Indiana, Kaufman would no doubt get significant developmental value from spending a few months playing against the likes of Trayce Jackson-Davis and others rather than sitting at home without a high school season.
A 4.0 student in the classroom, Kaufman is likely ready for more challenges on the academic front as well.
It is only a contingency plan if his high school season craters, but the logic seems clear.
“If there is no high school season then there is no sense in me staying in high school,” Kaufman said. “I’m going to get all of my classes taken care of so if that happens, I’ll be ready.”
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