By JOHN MARSHALL, AP Sports Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — College basketball coaches have the chance to see a multitude of recruits during the July evaluation period in Las Vegas.
Problem is, the players are spread all over the city, playing multiple games a day in schedules that are constantly shifting, often at the same time as other recruits the coaches want to watch.
Trying to sort it all out was a head-spinning task for coaching staffs as they tried to figure out where to be when.
Ross Comerford, a former Division III player, found a way to consolidate the information into one easy-to-use platform, creating an app to give coaches up-to-the-minute schedules of all the players they are evaluating.
FastRecruit is quick, easy and allows coaching staffs to save on two of their most precious commodities: time and money.
“It’s a huge time saver,” Rice coach Scott Pera said. “In the past, guys would stay up very, very late, waiting for things to hit and all you’ve got to do now is click this thing.”
A former player at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, Comerford has made a career finding solutions for coaches.
After graduating in 2001, he set out to combine his love of sports and technology, starting with $1,000 and his parent’s kitchen table.
Comerford’s first product was FastScout, which allowed coaches to scout their opponents and themselves digitally instead of hand-drawing everything. He followed with FastDraw, a digital tool that gave coaches the ability to draw, organize and share plays and drills.
FastModel Sports worked with every NBA, WNBA and NBA G League team, along with 650 men’s and women’s Division I programs and 10,000 high schools.
Comerford’s next task was to find a tool for coaches to use for recruiting.
He went to their offices, joined them on the road and went to tournaments like the ones in Las Vegas. The biggest need he saw, by far, was corralling the logistical demands of recruiting, particularly during evaluation periods.
“It’s always been chaotic and hard because it was so spread out,” Comerford said. “It was hard for me just to track a coach, so I wondered how they were able to do it to find players. They had spreadsheets on the wall, but the schedules would change by morning because it’s so dynamic and so many factors.”
Pulling all that information together in one app was not easy.
Comerford first had to get the operators of every tournament to agree to provide the data he needed and to do it quickly so coaches would not be going to the wrong site. He also had to consolidate the software the tournament operators were using because he found a range that included excel, Google Docs, Microsoft Word.
“It was literally the most archaic thing we’ve ever seen,” Comerford said.
Once Comerford convinced the operators — FastRecruit has every major tournament except one holdout on the girls’ side — and teamed up with two third-party systems, it was a matter of building relationships and the software code.
After an arduous process of coding at night and selling by day, Comerford launched FastRecruit in 2015 and continued to build it, recently adding a social media component. The app now has 500 Division I subscribers and has simply become known as The App to college coaches.
“Recruiting in July couldn’t be easier with the FastRecruit app,” Northern Arizona coach Jack Murphy said. “It organizes our schedule for us. We’re able to get around, know what team plays next and just keep on task in the chaos that is July recruiting.”
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