Shot clock still stalled nationally

Two proposals to introduce a shot clock for high school basketball were rejected at the national level this week. (Submitted photo)

By Maurice Patton

Shot clocks for Tennessee high school basketball will have to wait – and while Columbia Central’s Nick Campbell is fine with that, Columbia Academy’s Marty DeJarnette has come around to the idea.

Two separate proposals, one to mandate a shot clock and one to provide the option on a state-by-state basis, were voted down earlier this week by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

“Information was given to the Basketball Rules Committee that shared the votes in individual states on how coaches and officials voted in support of or non-support of the shot clock rule,” Theresia Wynns, director of sports and liaison to the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee, said. “The conversation among the committee members explored the pros and cons of enacting the proposal as a rule for all states and likewise for state adoption. The committee will continue to explore the shot clock issue.”

Enacting the shot clock was among the topics explored by the rules committee during its annual meeting last month, held online in light of the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent safety guidelines.

“I can’t tell you how many years in a row somebody has proposed the shot clock,” said Columbia native Bernard Childress, executive director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. “Some states have experimented with it and like it. I’ve never felt like it would pass the membership.

“So many people feel like – the way the game is played right now, you have very few occasions that kids hold the ball 35 seconds. It’s very fast paced. Right now, the committee feels it’s not needed. When you hear something about the shot clock, it’s those games where coaches decide that’s the only way they can win. But when you look at games across the state, how many games do you have that happening?”

Over his two seasons at Columbia Central, Campbell’s teams have embodied that description.

“I’ve been back and forth on it,” he said. “The style we try to play, the shot clock wouldn’t really affect us – but, at the end of games, we have pulled the ball out and ran some time off the clock.

“I get it: You want to prepare kids for ‘the next level’. But how many kids are going to play at the next level, across the board? I’m not a fan, for various reasons.”

DeJarnette, meanwhile, finds himself leaning in favor of the clock – albeit slightly.

“I’m for it. I didn’t think I would be,” said the veteran coach, who led CA to the 2019 Class A state title. “I think it’d be good for the game, teaching kids how to play the right way. We try to be intentional with everything we do, and I think you can build your offense to where it’s intentional, to ‘we’ve got a certain amount of time’.

“I’ve seen over the last couple of years, you look at the price to get in a game. To ask parents to pay $7 to watch kids hold the ball for six minutes of (an eight-minute) quarter … You don’t see many of those games, but the ones you do see, you’re like – why?”

Both Childress and Campbell agreed that implementation would create logistical challenges.

“As far as expense nationally, what would that mean?” Childress said.

“Financially, who’s going to pay to put the shot clock in for every school in the state? Who’s going to pay somebody to run them?” Campbell said.

Childress did say that, if the shot clock is ever added by the National Federation, Tennessee will comply.

“We don’t waver from any (national) playing rule,” he said. “The Federation rules and regulations for that sport, that’s what we go by. Whey they decide to have a rule change and we go out and discuss it with our coaches, we tell them, ‘we’re not here to judge the rule’. They made the change; whether we agree or disagree is not an issue.”

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