Could Ohio high school basketball add a shot clock?
No topic may be more debated in Ohio high school basketball than the shot clock.
Like it or not, it seems anyone connected to the game has an opinion on how a time limit on offensive possessions would impact high school boys and girls basketball.
The National Federation of State High School Associations ignited the topic again when it announced in May that starting in the 2022-23 season, a 35-second shot clock will be permitted in high school boys and girls basketball games if state associations choose to adopt the rule.
Nine states have used the 30- or 35-second shot clock before the announcement, including California, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington, according to the NFHS.
However, those state associations have been ineligible to serve on the NFHS basketball rules committee, a key element for the third-most popular high school sport nationally for boys and girls. The Ohio High School Athletic Association has not wanted to lose influence on the rules committee.
Although the NFHS updated its guidance, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana don't have any immediate plans for a shot clock because of reasons that include game strategy, cost, staffing and implementation at other levels.
"A lot of people, we hear, 'Hey, we need the shot clock,' but I think there is a lot of avenues that we need to look at before we add that because it definitely changes the game," Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association president David Sheldon said. "So you can't just throw that in at the varsity level. You're going to have to go down to freshman, JV (levels), because it's going to change the way the game is played."
The OHSAA is working with the high school basketball coaches association on a survey about shot clocks that will likely be sent this fall to coaches and athletic directors.
There is still plenty of discussion needed before getting close to a decision on whether to adopt the rule, OHSAA executive director Doug Ute said.
"I'm not just talking about finding somebody to run a shot clock during the JV and varsity game," Ute said. "Now, I need to find somebody to do it during the freshman game. I got to find somebody to do it in the middle schools. I've got to purchase it for my middle school gyms, and that's why I want the input of our athletic administrators also and not just our coaches, so we'll see if that's the direction we go to start those conversations."
La Salle head coach Pat Goedde said he is in favor of the shot clock for a variety of reasons. The Lancers are known for being defensive-minded and can simulate guarding a team for 35 seconds in practice.
"I love it because I think you will get better-officiated games," Goedde said. "I think it will be easier for guys to officiate games, especially in the (Greater Catholic League). It's very, very difficult to officiate the game without a shot clock. There is limited possessions and every call matters. And I think that will help the officials out. I really do. I love it because it prepares kids for college, too. If you have a few guys who are going to play college basketball, why wouldn't you do it? That's the other key."
The length of the shot clock for NCAA men’s and women’s basketball is 30 seconds across all divisions.
A high school shot clock would allow for players to prepare for that transition to the college game, said Woodward High School boys basketball coach Jarelle Redden. He also likes the fact that teams wouldn't be able to stall offensively.
"I would love us to have a shot clock," Redden said. "Games would be more exciting and it will help our athletes get better prepared for the next level."
Purcell Marian girls basketball coach Jamar Mosley doesn't have a strong preference on the shot clock, but he said he does think it would benefit skill development among the players.
"I think if you have a shot clock, I think the kids – they have to be able to create for themselves more instead of being able to run an offense for a minute-and-a-half, two minutes if that's what a team is used to doing," Mosley said.
Others aren't so sure about a potentially significant change to the game.
Longtime basketball official John Browne said the high school game should not be altered by a shot clock. He would not favor the rule adoption because of the way it would impact the competitive balance between teams.
"This is high school sports," Browne said. "This is supposed to be amateur sports regardless if we have a premier team in town or a less talented team."
Lakota West girls basketball coach Andy Fishman is intrigued by the idea of a shot clock for evenly matched teams, but he said the reality is the margin of scores could increase if there is a mismatch in the regular season or tournament.
Plus, he acknowledged the hurdles of cost and staffing to properly operate the shot clock, which would have to be extensively worked out.
Estimates for free-standing shot clocks are from $1,500 to $4,000 for a pair in a typical high school gymnasium, according to the NFHS and OHSBCA. Mounted shot clocks can cost up to $15,000, provided the existing scoreboard is compatible, according to the NFHS.
Given the significant financial impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on high school sports the past 15 months, the OHSAA and its member schools will have to decide on a cost-versus-benefit analysis for the game.
Sheldon said it's important to consider the 795 boys teams and 783 girls teams and the types of school enrollment sizes across the state.
"A lot of people say, well that's what kids are going to do at the college level – they're going to play with the shot clock," Sheldon said. "Well, I think as president we're over all the schools that have high school basketball. If we did research of how many kids in Ohio high school basketball go on and play college, it's a very small percentage."
As for Indiana and Kentucky, those state associations don't appear to have any immediate decisions looming.
Indiana High School Athletic Association commissioner Paul Neidig is not in favor of adopting the rule mainly from a coaching strategy standpoint, IHSAA sports information director Jason Wille said.
The Indiana Basketball Coaches Association could make a proposal for adding a shot clock but would need to present results from a survey of its membership along with any other supporting data.
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association board of control has approved a survey about the shot clock which will be distributed to schools to gauge their interest in further study for possible implementation in 2022-23.
"We expect significant work with our schools, coaches association, athletic director association and other groups before a determination would be finalized,” KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said.