Local coaches will gear up for new era of basketball as the Georgia High School Association plans to phase the shot clock into games over a three-year stretch.
The GHSA executive committee voted 53-10 on June 23 to implement a 30-second shot clock, starting with holiday tournament and showcase games this season. A shot clock can be used for region games next year — a decision left up to each region — before full implementation in 2022-23.
Shot clocks are used in college and professional basketball, but generally not in high school.
“I think it’s moving basketball in another direction, which is always good,” East Jackson boys’ basketball coach Jarvis Smith said.
Smith is certainly familiar with coaching with a shot clock, having served three years as a head basketball coach in college at Brewton Parker. While Smith said he has no problems with the addition of a shot clock, he would prefer a more consistent phase-in plan. He pointed out that regions can use a shot clock next year (2021-22) during the regular season if they chose, but that postseason games would be without shot clocks. Smith would prefer a full phase-in during Year 2.
“If just really think if we’re going to do it, let’s just do it,” Smith said. “It’s already passed.”
Like Smith, Jefferson girls’ basketball coach Greg Brown said the new rule will advance the game.
“I think it’s a step forward in high school basketball, getting us a little bit closer to the college game,” he said. “I know there are people who have feelings toward it on both sides.”
Brown said he was “in the middle” when it came to his initial thoughts on adding the shot clock and its influence on games. The shot clock stands to have the greatest impact on the final moments of competitive games, limiting a team’s ability to stall while holding a lead.
“I don’t foresee it being a bad thing, but I didn’t see it being a necessary thing but I also don’t see it as a bad thing,” Brown said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of something different. I do think it’s going to put a premium a little bit more on scheme and how you do things in end-of-clock situations.”
Brown said his team plays uptempo anyway, which would lessen the effect of a 30-second possession restriction.
“I can’t think of any possessions where we held it for 30 seconds last year,” he said.
Brown, who said he wasn’t surprised by the change, also noted that players on his roster who participate in AAU basketball are used to playing in games with a shot clock.
Meanwhile, Commerce girls’ coach Brad Puckett expressed excitement with the change after initially holding a neutral stance on the matter.
“I think that it will a really add a good, exciting dimension to high school basketball, especially when it comes to end-of-game situations,” he said. “I think strategy will be taken up to another whole level.”
Puckett said not only will the rule change affect offensive strategies, but defensive plans, too, with a limit placed on how long a team will be asked to defend.
“You’ll be able to tell the kids, ‘I need all you’ve got for 30 seconds,’” Puckett said.
Still, a shot clock will be unfamiliar to some players. Puckett said he brought up the change during a weightlifting session with his team after the shot clock was approved.
“A couple of them looked at me and they said, ‘A shot clock … what’s that?’ and I’m like ‘Oh, goodness, y’all really don’t watch college basketball like I constantly encourage you to do,’’’ he said. “But I smiled and said, ‘It’s OK. We’ll figure it out as we go.’”
While Smith, Brown and Puckett don’t have an issue with the addition of the shot clock, they also noted that feelings around the state are mixed.
Smith said he has coaching friends elsewhere in the state that argue that their only way to compete against powerhouse Atlanta schools is to slow the game down.
“A 30-second shot clock takes that away from them,” Smith said. “It causes more possessions.”
Smith added that the rule will force lesser-talented teams “to take even more bad shots.”
But Smith, who said he understands both sides of the argument, said he expects moving into the shot-clock era to be a fun challenge.
“You just have to adjust, adjust your coaching and get your team prepped up and ready to go,” Smith said.
Puckett had similar feelings.
“I really think it could be fun,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to be a completely whole new thing to learn.”
Both Puckett and Brown pointed that out that there’s time for everyone to adjust with the multi-year phase-in plan.
“I think the way they’re phasing it in over three years is a smart way to go,” Brown said. “You don’t hit people right across the forehead with it immediately … I just think the way they went about it was very, very smart.”
Said Puckett: “I’m glad they’re phasing it in."