Recruiting before quarantine paid off for Rob Lanier

Illustration by Roe | The Signal

One of the most important aspects of creating and improving a sports team is recruiting.

Camps and showcases play a big part in college recruiting because it is where college coaches can see and meet potential recruits.

However, with limitations on physical interaction due to COVID-19, college coaches are refraining from traveling to see recruits. Summer events that recruits would play in have been canceled due to the pandemic.

Luckily, most of the sports teams at Georgia State began the recruiting process before the state was shut down.

This year, the Panthers men’s basketball team signed the highest-ranking signing class in program history for the 2020-21 season.

Head coach Rob Lanier expressed the difficulties of recruiting during the pandemic.

“It does inhibit your ability to meet them, so that’s what makes it tough because you really can’t watch people play, and you can’t get to spend time with them in person. It’s difficult,” Lanier said.

Additionally, Lanier touched on how it can be difficult to get to know a player during these circumstances.

“It’s easier to have conversations and do research and find out a lot about people’s character, so that’s still in place,” he said. “But still, in general, you want to be able to look people in the eye.”

Fortunately, the team’s roster was in good shape before the pandemic.

“We have four stars returning and two other guys who had started games,” Lanier said. “And then we had three guys sitting out as transfers who will become eligible in the fall, and we [also] had three newcomers.”

Lanier noted the high degree of talent in this current roster.

“The guys who sat out bring some extreme college experience,” he said. “I think they bring some toughness. And the freshmen, I think bring some athleticism as well.”

Lanier looks forward to seeing how the men’s basketball team will unfold next year with a new-look roster. 

“What will be interesting is to see who emerges from the newcomers,” he said. “So, it’s going to be competitive.”

With everything that is going on in the world, the pandemic thankfully hasn’t stopped the team from keeping in touch.

“We get together [digitally] every Wednesday,” Lanier said. “Our focus has been more on academics and having a successful semester.”

He has made a crucial decision to not stress his players out too much with keeping in shape during this stressful time.

“I don’t want us to emphasize the basketball stuff,” Lanier said. “I don’t want these guys to go out and put themselves in harm’s way or put anybody and their family into harm’s way because they felt pressured from us to be in the gym.”

Unfortunately, the pandemic hit home for the team in a heartbreaking way.

“This whole thing has affected our program,” Lanier said. “We had a coach lose his mom. And we’ve had a player whose mom had to spend a couple of weeks in quarantine at the hospital.”

It is extremely difficult to get through this time being a college coach. Having to make sure the wellbeing of your players is stable, all while trying to do what’s most beneficial for the team.

There is nothing more than wanting to reunite with the team and embark on making next season worth the wait. 

“I’m looking forward to getting together so that we can start becoming a team,” Lanier said.