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How COVID-19 is affecting college recruiting

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WAKE FOREST — With the COVID-19 outbreak affecting universities, community colleges and high schools all over the globe, recruiting for student athletes has taken a big hit.

Schools are not allowed to have official visits with potential recruits during this worldwide pandemic. High school athletes are not allowed to step foot on the campus of their choice to see where they could spend the next few years playing.

This is making it hard for local student athletes, such as Vernon Fraley from Wakefield High School, to decide which jersey to put on.

The senior recently finished his final season playing basketball as a Wolverine.

“I started playing basketball in third grade,” Fraley said. “I played in tournaments after my mom asked me if I wanted to take it seriously. I’ve always dreamed on playing on the biggest stage.”

This past season, Fraley finished with career-high numbers. The forward posted an average of 14.7 points, eight rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Now he’s looking to take his game to the next level.

“Division II and III schools offered me during the preseason in the fall,” Fraley said. “All of my recruitment visits for colleges in Virginia got canceled. Coach David Doino from Averette University gave me a virtual tour on his phone. I can’t physically go to the schools because of the coronavirus. It is affecting my decision. It’s getting late in the game to decide. I want to get that part over with.”

Fraley received offers from Brevard College and St. Andrews University. He has talked to William Peace University, but no official offer has been made yet. He is scheduled to go on a virtual tour with Mary Baldwin University in Virginia.

“I want to major in business administration,” Fraley said. “I want a school that fits me academically. I’ve asked coaches if I can talk to people who work in business administration and the professors there. I want to make sure I can call the campus home. Most coaches are helping me out no matter what.”

Then there are cases where student athletes can’t officially sign with their school yet because of COVID-19. Darien Long from Rolesville High School committed to play basketball at N.C. Wesleyan back in late January.

“A couple of other bigger schools reached out to me, but never made an official offer yet,” Long said. “I was waiting on them, but I just left an official visit from N.C. Wesleyan. I decided to commit to them the next morning and I called Coach John Thompson.”

Since schools are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, they can’t send out their official letter of intent to the student athletes. For now, Long has to wait until he can officially become a Battling Bishop.

“Wesleyan is going to try and figure out what to do over the summer,” Long said. “I’ve been personally staying in shape and working on my jump shot. I’m staying active. I’m just waiting for this whole thing to blow over so I can sign. I originally was supposed to sign at the school, but now they’re going to send it to me and I’ll sign it at home.”

Other spring athletes are also still waiting for their chance to sign with their respective college. That will have to wait until the COVID-19 outbreak dies down.

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