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If Johnny Lightening made it to D1, then Johnny's parents the biggest role being able to afford all the costs required to get there. along with actually raising a boy/girl to be able to succeed, cutting through all the bull**** associated with Daddy coaches & entitled legacy HS-NHL entitled snots. 2nd is Johnny's determination and work ethic, third is hired guns like coaches/programs and skills coaches.
How/why do colleges bother getting verbal commitments from 13-14yos?
1. You don't know how the kid will develop
2. You don't know if the kid will be academically acceptable (this matters for some D1 schools)
3. Most prep kids probably have to go play in the USHL before college anyway
What's the point of these early commits?
The question is why not? It costs the school nothing to get a commitment and keep other schools away. If the player pans out they have the inside track. If he doesn't, they quietly say you'll never play here and the kid decommits.
It's not brain science.