I was talking to a college coach about the Shore Conference 2026 class. We were discussing how the’26 class may be the biggest Division One class in Shore history. But he may have heard those words before. That’s because 4 years ago I predicted that the 2023 Shore class would make a run at the record for most D1 players in a class. Well that’s not going to happen. in fact unless something shocking happens. The ’23 class will be the smallest D1 class in Shore history. But that’s not the entire story. The 2023 have been survivors and warriors. They had to overcome more than any group in history. A better question is what happen?
It seems like yesterday when the entering ‘23 shore class look loaded with D1 talent. There was so much talent you couldn’t expect anything except greatness in the future. But sadly many things out of these kids control and yes, a few bad decisions have lead them to where they are today. The ’23 class will serve as reminder to all future classes that things don’t always go as planned. They can certainly serve as a reminder to the 2024/2025/ 2026 classes not to take anything for granted. No matter how talented you think you are because sometimes the unexpected happens👌
The first sign that the 2023 class may not meet expectations was right in front of our eyes and we didn’t see it. That’s because when we saw a rash of transfers in the 2023 class like we have never seen in the Shore Conference. We didn’t think much of it. Some of the projected best players in the class switched schools after just one year. Forcing them to start over and sit 30 days before beginning there sophomore year. Then Covid it hit during that transfer year, setting everyone back. But there is no question it hurt the 2023 class more than any other class. The first two years of this talented class did not help in there development. In fact it may have put them behind other less talented players. To make things worst, one projected D1 player in the class quit basketball to become a superstar track runner and the FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR Transferred not only out of the conference but eventually out of the state. Right now as I type, only three members of the 2023 ALL FRESHMAN TEAM currently have D1 offers or for that matter projected as D1 players. Something unheard of; as most All Freshman Team members in the Shore Conference almost always go Division one. But as I said this class has been a different story for so many reasons. Much of it out of there control🤫
You can not begin to understand the impact Covid has had on the 2023 class. First after losing most of there first two years of high school basketball. This class was denied the chance to play AAU basketball. Coaches were not allowed to watch them play and worst they weren’t allowed to play. This broke the spirit of many kids in this class. They couldn’t see teammates, go to the gym or even socialize with their peers. Many in the 2023 class felt hopeless, as there was nothing they could do. This had a Devastating effect on their development and mental health. The 2023 class lost important exposure opportunities and gym time during covid. Two things that matter most in recruiting and player development. There is simply no way to get those Covid years back. No class has ever paid more of a price. Now throw in the NCAA giving players in college a extra year of Eligibility taking away money and more scholarships and the 2023 class was up against it. Then the NCAA new transfer portal came into effect, that was just the icing on the cake of Misery for the 2023 class.
There are things that you can’t see just by watching a few basketball games. Like how hard a kid works. Do they like to compete and are they gym rats for example. In other words what is the competitive nature and does a kid really love the game. If there is one Criticism of the 2023 class, it’s their questionable competitive nature. The Shore Conference has long been known for its competitive nature. But many of the best players entering high school in this class choose to play weaker competition both in high school and AAU. Many trained in non competitive environments or worst not at all. This could have been due to covid or simply kids not knowing any better. Regardless as to why, the facts are this group took a easier road than many other D1 players in the past. Many of the kids in the ’23 class jumped from AAU team to AAU team trying to find a home in order to gain more exposure. In many cases they simply settled in the end for homes that may have not been the best fit for them. The 2023 class seem to have to more challenges than others classes in the past. They have not had it easy but at times maybe they could have made better decisions as well. I guess in the end will we never know if things were different… would the ‘23 class Fortunes have been different?
The ’23 class certainly does not need your sympathy. Here is why, while the ’23 class may not be stacked with D1 players. Make no mistake it is loaded with impact college players. In fact this class may go on to be one of the most successful groups at the next level. Thats because many are top students and may wind up at the “RIGHT LEVEL” of play. Not every kid wants or needs the grind of D1 basketball. I believe this class may fall into that category. No class has ever been asked to overcome so much. Many of the players in the 2023 class at this point just want to be happy, get a good quality education and have some normalcy again. They have been to hell and back and proved they know how to survive tough times. Many still also want to play competitive basketball and want that college basketball experience. This group just may get that and more. In fact they just may get everything their looking for☄️💪😀
I believe the 2024/ 2025 and certainly the 2026 classes will return the Shore back to its normal yearly number of D1 players. The 2026 class is something special on paper. They are not only mega talented but they are gym rats and insanely competitive. They train daily, almost Religious like. It’s the reason why college coaches have already started recruiting and offering players in this class D1 scholarships. The players in the 2026 class love the game and the social aspect that comes along with it… SOMETHING THE 2024 CLASS DIDN’T GET. I don’t believe the 2026 class or the 2025 class will have any problems fulfilling there promise… I just hope I’m not wrong☄️🙏😀🌈