USA Basketball, NBA recommend shot clock for high school basketball; what does it mean for Colorado?

Denver Coliseum basketball generic

(Ryan Casey/CHSAANow.com)

The use of a shot clock in high school basketball has long been debated. Now USA Basketball and the NBA have weighed in.

The two organizations released a document on Tuesday outlining age-appropriate rules and standards. Included was the recommendation of a 24-second shot clock for “ninth-12th grade,” saying that it “allows for more possessions for each team, better game flow and additional decision-making opportunities for players.”

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has a long-standing rule disallowing the use of a shot clock in the high school game.

“It is discussed and has been discussed every year at the National Federation every year that I’ve been in charge of basketball in Colorado,” said CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann, who administers basketball in the state. “And the support of surveys from schools, coaches and state associations have not indicated that there’s an overwhelming support for a shot clock in HS basketball at this point.”

The most recent survey was conducted prior to the 2017 basketball rules meeting, and asked about a 30-second shot clock for boys, and a 35-second shot clock for girls. The results showed that:

  • 57 percent of coaches are in favor of it, with 39 percent against, and four percent not having an opinion. (More than 6,000 coaches nationwide responded, including 357 from Colorado.)
  • Officials were split with 46 percent in favor, 47 percent against, and seven percent having no opinion. (More than 8,000 officials responded nationally.)
  • State associations were decidedly against it (62 percent), with 34 percent in favor, and four percent having no opinion. (A total of 29 states responded, including Colorado.)

The NFHS had a similar question on this year’s survey. This year’s national basketball rules committee is in April.

As of June 2017, nine states — including California, Washington, New York, and Maryland — use or have plans to us a shot clock. But those states forfeit their ability to give input to the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee in doing so.

CHSAA’s basketball committee has debated off-and-on over the past few years whether or not to implement a shot clock. Those in favor of a shot clock echo the USA Basketball and NBA reasoning; those opposed cite the cost of the equipment, as well as installation and hiring a shot clock operator, and have also resisted the change it would make in the game.

Additionally, the fact that it would take away Colorado’s ability to sit on the NFHS basketball rules committee has stood in the way.

“That’s a big reason why” CHSAA hasn’t adopted a shot clock independent of national rules, Borgmann said. “We are committed to being able to be a participant in all of the rules committees because we believe it’s an important part of what we do, and it’s an important part of the process for high school athletics.”

Borgmann said that the 30- and 35-second shot clocks are often proposed so “it is curious that 24 seconds is the time recommended.” (The NBA uses a 24-second shot clock; the NCAA uses a 30-second shot clock.)

He added that some of the high school associations resist the thought that every level of the sport has to follow the same rules.

“Every level has something that’s unique and special,” Borgmann said. “That’s the beauty of high school sports, and college sports, and pro sports.”

That’s not to say Colorado would resist a change if it came from the national level.

“We would welcome the shot clock if it’s passed by NFHS,” Borgmann said. “These recommendations certainly give everybody something to think about who might not have even thought about moving to a shot clock, and maybe give the supporters more hope that it may be coming.

“It will be interesting to see the direction the game is going given the input from USA Basketball and the NBA,” he added.