Skip to content

Basketball: Local coaches see positives and negatives of implementing shot clock

  • Holy Family coach Pete Villecco thinks a shot clock would...

    Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Holy Family coach Pete Villecco thinks a shot clock would be good for the high school game.

  • Longmont head coach Jeff Kloster said he is indifferent about...

    Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Longmont head coach Jeff Kloster said he is indifferent about the changes a shot clock would make to the game.



During a team camp two years ago at the University of Kansas, the Holy Family boys basketball team played a game on a practice court using the college shot clock.

The players loved it. But that style of game is not the reality for high school basketball in Colorado, at least not currently.

For years, the NBA and NCAA have played their games using a shot clock and for years there has been a debate over whether or not the shot clock should be used at the high school level. That debate once again became top-of-mind last week when USA Basketball and the NBA recommended the implementation of a 24-second shot clock at the high school level in a joint document that outlined rules and standards for youth basketball.

While the shot clock is currently prohibited in Colorado and many have raised concerns over the financial implications of requiring it under the official rules, it seems as though most coaches in the area wouldn’t mind having it implemented in terms of how it would affect the game itself.

“I think it would be exciting,” Holy Family head coach Pete Villecco said. “I think it would be a welcome addition to our game right now. It would promote a little faster pace of play. As coaches, we would have to be better at teaching decision-making. I think it would be great. Internationally, at the college level, they all use a shot clock. I think it would be awesome.

“It’s something that us coaches have been talking about for a long time but we never thought it would be a reality mostly because of the financial aspect of installing a shot clock and training people to use it. But when USA Basketball came out with that statement, my first reaction was that I would be all for it.”

With the high school game already trending towards a more up-tempo style of play, Villecco pointed out that an increase in possessions and losing the ability to stall would likely lead to both higher scores and fewer upsets. But though the shot clock is currently being used in nine states, it is prohibited by the National Federation of State High School Associations, of which the Colorado High School Activities Association is a member, so the change isn’t likely to happen in Colorado any time soon barring an unexpected development.

In order to join those nine states in implementing a shot clock, CHSAA would have to forfeit its ability to sit on the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee. CHSAA would, however, welcome the shot clock should it be approved by the NFHS, according to CHSAA assistant commissioner Bert Borgmann.

Many people are resistant to implementing a shot clock based on the cost of the equipment, and others aren’t in favor based on the impact it would have on how the game is played. Veteran Longmont head coach and Coach of the Year Jeff Kloster isn’t one of those people.

Kloster has coached a certain way for nearly 30 years and one staple of his offense is patience and waiting to get off a great shot, preferably a layup, by extending possessions. Even though a shot clock would force him to make significant changes to a style that has worked well for decades and won his team a Class 4A state championship this winter, Kloster said he is indifferent about the changes a shot clock would make to the game. He doesn’t, however, see it happening in the near future because of the prohibitive expense it would require of every high school program.

“That’s the huge thing,” Kloster said. “I know one of the things I told our athletic director when he asked my opinion was that depending on how many more years I coach, I don’t know if I’ll see it because of all the issues with how to pay for it, who will operate it, things like that. I do think it will eventually happen but I think it’s a ways off. It will definitely change things, and you’ll see more things trickle down from the college level.

“For one, I would expect more teams to go to a full or three-quarter court press to slow teams down and limit how much time they have to get off a good shot in the half court. But for us, we would just have to sit down as coaches and rethink the way we do things, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

A national study conducted by the NFHS that surveyed over 6,000 coaches prior to the 2017 basketball rules meeting showed that 57 percent of coaches were in favor of the shot clock, 39 percent were against and four percent did not have an opinion. Sixty-two percent of state associations were against the shot clock. Forty-seven percent of officials were against the shot clock, 46 percent were in favor and seven percent had no opinion.

California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin all currently use, or plan to use, a shot clock. In those states, the shot clock is typically of the 30- or 35-second variety rather than the 24-second shot clock proposed by USA Basketball and the NBA.

Brad Cochi: or