May 24, 2018
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Highlight videos help link high school players, college recruiters

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

When Trevor Lyford began alerting college basketball coaches of his possible interest in joining one of their programs next fall, the initial response admittedly was lukewarm.

No matter that the Penquis Valley of Milo guard played a key role as the Patriots won the 2013 Class C state championship and this winter was named to the Bangor Daily News All-Maine team.

The 6-foot-1-inch senior had not played on the AAU spring and summer basketball circuit since he suffered a broken hand as a sophomore, so he didn’t have the same degree of offseason exposure as peers who frequently played in regional or national tournaments and other events designed to bring college coaches and potential recruits together.

But Lyford — who has yet to record a grade lower than “A” in any high school course and is Penquis Valley’s 2014 President’s Award winner — was smart enough to realize he might benefit from taking an extra step to further enhance his basketball profile.

Enter the video-sharing age.

Lyford assembled a 4-minute, 30-second collection of highlights from his junior season at Penquis Valley — a video montage of slick passes, drives to the basket, 3-point shots, steals and other big plays set to a musical background.

“I’m lucky that my mom tapes every game,” he said. “It’s just a matter of going in and picking out the highlights.”

Once he put the video on YouTube, Lyford sent those same coaches a link to the clip. Soon the responses became less generic.

“With a lot of the colleges, if you live up here a lot of times coaches don’t get to see you unless you go down there for a tournament, which I hadn’t done for a couple of years,” he said. “At first when I sent a couple of messages to coaches you could kind of tell they were sending back generic messages. But after they saw the video I could tell they were more interested.”

Lyford initially was reluctant to put a video highlighting his athletic achievements in the public domain for fear of being seen as overly confident about his basketball ability.

But the use of YouTube or other video-sharing services has become an effective method of enabling coaches in many sports to get a glimpse of a potential recruit in action. All the player has to do is send any interested coaches a link to the video and they can view it from their offices almost instantly.

Then if the coach wants to see more, he can request full-game DVDs from the player.

“Sometimes coaches ask for videos, and the most efficient way to get it to them is just to put it on YouTube and send them a link to it,” said Lyford. “I tried emailing them to coaches a couple of times but the files were just too big. YouTube was just an easier way to do it.

“It’s good for them because they get to see you play and get a feel for what you can do, and it’s good for you because you can choose what you want to put on the video,” he added.

Marty Bouchard of Houlton has made highlight videos for his son, Houlton High School basketball star Kyle Bouchard, after each of his first three varsity seasons.

And as the younger Bouchard, a 2014 BDN All-Maine first-team honoree as a junior with the Shiretowners, increasingly has become a prime recruiting target of Division I and Division II college coaches around the Northeast and beyond, posting those highlight collections on a video-sharing service has served a more pragmatic purpose.

“In the beginning we thought, ‘Let’s do it just for fun,’” said Marty Bouchard, “but as we went along we found that more and more college coaches use these.”

Bouchard seeks to depict a variety of basketball skills used by his son during the course of a game in the highlight reel rather than just a repetition of one particular phase of the game.

“You try to capture the essence of the player,” said Bouchard. “With Kyle I wanted to show his defense, his 3-point shooting, his post moves and his pull-up and midrange game. The big thing with him is his versatility, so I try to get that out there on the video.”

Bouchard has employed music, slow motion and other tools available through the iMovie program to make his videos entertaining as well as informative.

“It takes quite a while, but it’s kind of fun,” said Bouchard, who also has produced a season-in-review video for the Houlton boys basketball team, this year’s Class C state champion. “I try to get creative with it, and for me doing this fills in some of my time after basketball season.”

Kyle Bouchard has played on one of the state’s top 17-and-under AAU teams for the last three years, so he already has been scouted in person by many of the college coaches who are recruiting him.

But the videos can serve as one more small part of a multifaceted recruiting process that ultimately may lead to on-campus visits.

“What the coaches look for on the videos are the basketball skills,” Marty Bouchard said, “but the make-or-break time is still the personal meetings with the coaches. That’s when a kid can show you his character, something you can’t get on the video.”

Bonny Eagle of Standish boys varsity basketball coach Phil Bourassa has made several videos on behalf of recruited players from his program in recent years. Among them is senior guard Dustin Cole, the state’s 2014 Mr. Basketball, who will continue his career on scholarship next season at Division II Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H.

“Because of the time it takes, the rule I have is that colleges have to inquire about the player first,” said Bourassa, citing the 15 to 20 hours required to pore through game videos from throughout the high school season to find the most appropriate highlights.

Bourassa, like Bouchard and Lyford, then develops the video through an iMovie program that also provides a template page on which to put the player’s relevant statistics.

“Anyone can make a highlight tape, but I try to look at some of the other things like taking a charge or blocking a shot, working hard on defense, and then showing that they can shoot, too,” said Bourassa, whose latest projects have included a review of the Scots’ 2013-14 season and a highlight video for Ben Malloy, a junior forward who has started to draw the interest of college coaches.

Lyford, who has been accepted at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Tufts, Brandeis and Brown, added a section at the end of his video providing some of his academic information.

“For some schools, especially in Division III, they don’t just want to see basketball highlights, you’ve got to present yourself to them as an all-around student,” he said.

“A lot of the coaches have two big questions, can you get into the school and then are you good enough to play?” Lyford said. “I tried to use the video to answer some of those questions before they ask them.”


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