Beyond the Pancakes: Braden Holloway on NC State Recruiting

In Practice + Pancakes, SwimSwam takes you across the country and through a practice day in the life of swimming’s best athletes. It breaks down training sessions, sub sets, and what every team is doing to be at their best. But why are they doing things that way? In Beyond the Pancakes, we dive inside the minds of coaches and athletes, getting a first hand look at why they do the things they do, and where their minds are pointed on the compass of evolution as a swimmer.

When SwimSwam was in Raleigh shooting Practice + Pancakes with NC State, we also sat down with head coach Braden Holloway to speak with him about recruiting at the college level. Many were wowed when, this fall, NC State received 4 top-20 verbal commitments from Junior boys in the class of 2021, all within a weeks of each other.

Coach Holloway speaks to the nature of early recruiting. Although it makes him uncomfortable, he mentions the positives of having 2 years to get to know your incoming freshman class. That can have a trickle down effect of the incoming classes already being accustomed to the culture by the time they arrive on campus, as well as give the coaches more knowledge on who they are as people and athletes.

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Swim mom
2 years ago

Cheers to Dave Berkoff, who knows of what he speaks!

SwimMom68
2 years ago

My child was a NC State recruit. He did not ultimately decide to swim there and the call to Braden was one of the toughest he’s ever made. Recruits who commit early are not committing because of pressure, but because who Braden is as a coach and a leader and the kids want to be a part of his system. As a parent, I appreciated his desire to have me be part of the decision process. Braden understands as both a coach and a father the responsibility that comes with these swimmers. Had my child gone there, I would have been confident and secure he was in capable hands. The recruiting process is stressful, and I don’t mean that in… Read more »

Nonrevhoofan
2 years ago

Kudos to Braden and his staff for his successes, both in recruiting and in getting a lot out of his swimmers. As I have said since he was 22: Braden could sell ice to Eskimos. And best of luck to those who have hitched their wagon to the Pack-train. It’s great to have a friendly rivalry.

David Berkoff
2 years ago

A few honest thoughts after watching Braden’s interview and going through the parent recruiting process. Take it for what it’s worth.

1. I am not a fan of the early signing rule. I agree with some of the commenters that young men and women are still developing mentally, physically and emotionally, yet are asked to make a very big decision without much life-learned wisdom. That’s why parents should play a supporting role in the recruiting process and ask a lot of questions.

2. When Katharine was being recruited I told Braden quite frankly that I was opposed to early signing and unless my daughter was absolutely certain about where she wanted to go she was not signing early. Braden respected… Read more »

Swimfan
2 years ago

I think it is interesting to how much attention is given to these young guys. I realize they are the top and that the top get the attention, but guys develop so much slower than girls and many of the “top 20” are merely early bloomers with naturally higher testosterone levels than the rest of their class. If you go to a junior national meet, not all but many of the top performers have terrible form and mostly outmuscle their competition who are at a younger biologic age. It will be interesting to see how many of these “top 20” will still be there by NCAA’S of their junior or senior years of college when the rest of the pack… Read more »

JCO
Reply to  Swimfan
2 years ago

2 are in state, which helps a lot. That’s a big advantage schools in NC, California, and Texas have. I remember hearing once that the upperclassmen at Texas occasionally give back some of their scholarship in order for the coaches to have more money to work with during recruiting, but I have no idea how accurate that is. Maybe NC State is doing something like that, but I’m not sure. A lot of schools have good academic deals that help out coaches, but with these kids being first semester HS juniors, I doubt they know how much academic scholarship they will qualify for yet.

DravenOP
Reply to  Swimfan
2 years ago

SwimSwam will update their rankings each year. You can usually see the change year to year. The top usually stays at the top (46 100 fly by Aiden is baller and even if he doesn’t improve at all- thats still a fantastic HS time. ditto with other top swimmers) but past the top 5 or so, there are usually some big changes and new additions.

In state recruits are usually big gets because coaches can offer more. For example, UNC may $35k out of state a year and $15k in state (those numbers are just made up but I believe they are relatively accurate). If you offer an out of state kid 50% scholarship, thats still $17.5k a year… Read more »

swimgeek
Reply to  DravenOP
2 years ago

I agree and have talked about this with a bunch of top recruits coming out of Northern VA — and whether UVA might be able to keep them in-state. The school can offer LESS to in-state kids b/c the overall cost is dramatically cheaper.

2 Cents
Reply to  swimgeek
2 years ago

You are talking about fully funded programs… the amount of money does not matter, it is more a matter of what percentage of a scholarship they take or their “cap hit” if you will to borrow a pro term here… you still only get 9.9 (I think that’s the number) scholarships for Men. So a full instate scholarship still counts the same as a full out of state one in the eyes of the NCAA, Title IX and your “limit”.

But if you are talking about it might take less to get a kid, that is different and you are right. If a kid can only afford $10k a year, the instate school could offer half a ride, but an… Read more »

Reply to  Swimfan
2 years ago

Per your question about Top 20 recruits and their college performances, we actually revisit all of our recruit rankings each off-season. You can check out that data here: https://swimswam.com/mens-recruiting-ranks-in-progress-analysis-all-classes-through-2019-ncaas/

There are inevitably some top-20 busts. Last year’s senior and junior men had quite a few. And there are always some unranked guys who become top-flight scorers over their college careers. But most years, the top 20 tend to be pretty good. For example, of last year’s sophomores (current juniors), 14 of our top 20 have already scored NCAA points within two college seasons. 10 of our top 20 from last year’s freshman class scored right out of the gate. Last year’s juniors and seniors had a lot more busts, though.

2 Cents
2 years ago

When I was recruited by him it was nothing but negative recruiting tactics and a ton of pressure…. I never took a trip there as a result, well that plus the academics. It is nice to hear he has changed and I would probably at least take a trip there now. He has built a nice program there and that really seems like the main draw to most recruits now. If they could actually get a real pool they might be able to compete with Texas and Cal on the men’s side. Also, if they could pump out some US Olympians other than Held (yes I know they have a lot of foreigners who will be Olympians), they could grab… Read more »

Bobby Guntoro
Reply to  2 Cents
2 years ago

Thank you for your notes and nice words about NC State.

We don’t believe in negative recruiting tactics. We focus on our family, team, and university when it comes to recruiting. Go Pack!

parentofarecruit
Reply to  Bobby Guntoro
2 years ago

😂😂I was going to stay out of this, but since Bobby chimed in, I have to say, that in our experience, you’re the most negative of the group.

I understand that all coaches want to view themselves as these positive, upbeat, team-first, academics-first types, but like…the reality is just that not everybody is that way. Sorry. Room for improvement?

My son chose a different school after a similar experience to 2cents above. 🤼‍♂️🤼‍♂️This was a few years ago, so maybe as 2cents says things have changed? If so, good for you for showing growth.

Swimmomtoo
Reply to  parentofarecruit
2 years ago

Maybe they both are 25 now! 😂

meeeee
Reply to  parentofarecruit
2 years ago

don’t know anything about NC State, but apparently you have not had experience with Indiana or Louisville. See what happens when you turn them down.

Swim Parent
Reply to  meeeee
2 years ago

@meeee, As the parent of a swimmer who committed elsewhere but was recruited by both IU and Louisville recently, we had a completely different experience than you are insinuating. Arthur, Ray, Cory, and Jonty were alll awesome and gracious. I’ll be rooting for them..except when they swim my alma mater and my son’s team.

DravenOP
Reply to  Bobby Guntoro
2 years ago

Nice propaganda, but the recruiting tactics that you use (or used to use) do not reflect what you just said in your post.

Sam Hoover
Reply to  DravenOP
2 years ago

I can’t speak for anybody else, but in my experience none of the state coaches that I talked to ever used any form of negative recruiting, in fact they emphasized to me many times that negative recruiting is something they are super against.

DravenOP
Reply to  Sam Hoover
2 years ago

This is great, good for you! I myself did not experience being recruited by the current NCSU staff but I have personal relationships with people who have and many of them did not speak highly of the process and some of the comments made/tactics used, to put it mildly. Maybe the culture has changed, which would be a good thing. Congrats on your choice and good luck.

parentofarecruit
Reply to  Sam Hoover
2 years ago

“Yeah, we don’t use negative recruiting here at NC State. Unlike those other guys. They’re all so negative. All they’ll do is tell you about the bad things we do. I guess that’s because they can’t beat us, so they have to try and rip us down. It’s sad really, those other programs. Like I said, we don’t do that.”

Probably

LOL.

2 Cents
Reply to  Bobby Guntoro
2 years ago

I completely agree with you and believe that y’all have changed your methods in recruiting. I was referring to Holloway’s 1st or 2nd year in charge, and understand things are different now. I think that is why things have improved since then. He learned what works and what doesn’t and what is right and what is wrong. Things definitely seems to be working and working with the right tactics now and have been for the last several years. I’ll stop there before saying “go pack” though, haha.

Swim Parent
Reply to  2 Cents
2 years ago

Indiana, Georgia, and Florida have all had recent multiple US male olympians and are in the eastern time zone.I think you lose credibility by implying NC State needs ‘wonders for their recruiting’. For men, SwimSwam did rank their 2019 class as #2 behind Texas and the 2020 class has a Gwangju A finalist among other great swimmers and the 2021 class has 5 of the way-too-early top 17. How much better can recruiting get? On the pool, the planned outdoor 50 meter with platforms will be great but their indoor 50 meter training pool and the 25 yard competition pool give them ample lane space. And while old, the competition pool with bleachers on three sides right on top of… Read more »

2 Cents
Reply to  Swim Parent
2 years ago

Is Indiana still Eastern Time zone?? I can never tell with that state, but still who are the Olympians has Indiana put out on the men’s side in the last 2-3 olympics? Or even Florida? I know Florida had Dressel and Dwyer, but they never overlapped, so I am not counting them. Georgia did have a few IMers like Litchford and Kalicz so I will give you that one.

PS, if state’s pool is great for meets, then Yale has to be better since they have bleachers all around the pool , thus making the HYP meet the best atmosphere.

Swim Parent
Reply to  2 Cents
2 years ago

Yes Bloomington is EasternTime. IU had Blake Pieroni and Cody Miller last Olympics. Georgia also had Gunnar Bentz. UF also had some dude named Lochte. Maybe you don’t count relay swimmers but if you get the rings tattoo and you get a medal then I think you are an Olympian. And it’s not the pool that makes the atmosphere, but when you have full stands of people banging on glowing bangers as the team runs out through smoke and rock music that makes dual meet swimming pretty cool and even cooler when the crowd is practically on deck. Still not a State fan but I’ll give credit where it’s due.

2 Cents
Reply to  Swim Parent
2 years ago

Indiana doesn’t do DST does it? Arent they Central time half the year and eastern the other half? Or did they change that a while back? I just remember going to Purdue for a meet back in my day and learning that. Anyways, I did forget IU had those 2…I forgot Pieroni was there. I can’t believe I forgot Lochte, and I guess he and Dwyer were there for the same time, but still not overlapping with Dressel. Still, that kind of makes my point that there is no real “hot bed” for male olympians on the east coast. Texas dominates the Middle of the country and Cal dominates the west coast. So there is a need or availability for… Read more »

Admin
Reply to  2 Cents
2 years ago

Since 2006, the whole state has used Daylight Savings Time. Also, we’re currently in standard time (DST is in the summer). In either case, Bloomington time aligns with New York time all year long.

2 Cents
Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

That explains it…. my time of going to a meet at Purdue was prior to 2006….

Speed Racer
Reply to  2 Cents
2 years ago

Am I the only one that finds it awkward the coach entered the chat? If indeed it is the coach and not someone using the name.

PsychoDad
2 years ago

15-16 year old boys are dumb, self-centered, and unable to think straight. Boys do not develop any brain until 25. That is when they start thinking about other people and not only about themselves. Letting a 15-16 boy make a decision quickly will very often result in a disappointment. But, whatever works.

oldswimfan
Reply to  PsychoDad
2 years ago

Boys do not develop any brain until 25… Well then.. let’s wait until they turn 25 to pick a school

The Man Himself
Reply to  PsychoDad
2 years ago

Toxicdad

Swim Parent
Reply to  PsychoDad
2 years ago

Umm psycho dad !!!While all those things are typical of teenagers.
You can’t honestly believe that parents & family were not involved in their swimmers process.

DravenOP
Reply to  Swim Parent
2 years ago

“dumb, self-centered, unable to think straight” are words I would use to describe many parents as well, probably more so than 15-16 year old boys.

Joel Lin
2 years ago

Let’s pull in a parallel from another sport. My brother-in-law sent this video to me a few years ago. This short clip is everything – in boy’s lacrosse & in other sports there were crazy early recruits. The most elite programs indulged the most & then wound up getting hurt the most. Watch Dave Petramala’s body language when he’s asked the question after his opening 25 second speech about earlier recruiting being not for best.

https://youtu.be/cGWyU1W-34s

I think Braden Holloway gets it but he’s also right at the tipping point & needs to know that too. 15-16 year olds are different in so many ways than those same ones at the age… Read more »

Swimmomtoo
Reply to  Joel Lin
2 years ago

Thank you!!!
Wish more coaches/parents/hs swimmers would read your comments! Wish NCAA would listen to it.

swimgeek
Reply to  Joel Lin
2 years ago

General recruiting question: With the majority (or perhaps almost all) scholarship money being allocated based on *sophomore year times*. What happens to a kid that breaks out with massive time drops December (or even March) of HS senior year? These kids definitely exist. Do they just walk on and hope to get some scholarship money later in college? Or take the “scraps” that happen to be leftover at that point in the recruiting cycle? For elite teams — I assume coaches would find roster space if the kid is fast enough — but there presumably woulnd’t be any money available.

Joel Lin
Reply to  swimgeek
2 years ago

That’s an excellent question. I think NCAA coaches have a difficult enough algorithm to optimize kids after their junior year & even then factoring in a reserve for late bloomers AND for kids who light it up as college first & second year NCAA swimmers. You can’t just tell a guy or gal that made an individual A final & a B final at NCAAs “good goin” without rewarding those merits.

My point above was coaches in other non revenue sports did a magnificent job permanently diminishing their own programs & brands by getting extended into high school underclassmen based on wild projections. It is the rarest of rare that you’d have a male 10th grader with NCAA A final… Read more »

2 Cents
Reply to  swimgeek
2 years ago

I am not sure about this, but I would guess that coaches will promise a minimum amount of money to the top tier recruits. Say it is a top 20 recruit in the class, the coach might offer a minimum scholarship of 66 or 75% with the stipulation that it might go up depending on how the rest of the class shapes up. Remember they don’t sign scholarship offers when they commit, especially now that they are committing so early in their Jr years now. Even the rest of the class is probably given a minimum scholarship offer… so coaches are probably only divvying up 2/3 or 3/4th of their allotment, knowing that some members of the class might get… Read more »

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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