High school recruits are turning up their tenacity after NCAA says players can get paid

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Big news for any sports fan. What you know about the NCAA and your favorite college teams are changing. In a big announcement on Tuesday, officials said student-athletes will now be able to make money for their name, image and likeness.

This could change the culture of student-athletes and sports as we know it. There’s a lot more on the table in terms of opportunities. Some high schoolers who are being recruited by colleges say they have even more of a reason to stay in the gym.

“I’m going to continue to work harder and get better,” said Kai Hansen, a baseball player and junior at Mountain Island Charter School in Mount Holly.

“If the opportunity is there to make money, yeah you might as well take that,” said Tyran Jones who hopes to play football at UNC Charlotte.

It’s a tough road on your way to the top in any sport. The high schoolers who train to get there at Ultimate Athlete say the hard work doesn’t matter because that’s the journey to get them to their dream.

In this case, the dream is playing college ball.

“I’m looking to play at UNC Charlotte,” Jones confirmed.

“I’d love to go Yale, high-ed, they’re good at baseball. Columbia maybe," said Hansen.

Whether it’s football, basketball, track or baseball, a full-ride scholarship has always been the goal for this group. Once this group heard about the rule change from the NCAA – this new generation of athletes immediately said now is the time to maximize their potential value.

“It’s fun, but it’s also business,” Hansen added.

Austin Smith is the director of the training facility. He says it’s his job to make sure these teens can get to the next level – he says he likes the new rule.

“It’s no secret that these kids from middle school to high school are being required, because of the demand of the sport, to put in more hours,” said Smith.

He also adds that competition among younger athletes will only get steeper now that college players will be able to make a profit. He embraces the change.

“At the end of the day if you work hard and stay humble. If they’re not going to pay ya. We’ll work hard to make ‘em pay ya,” Hansen said.

The NCAA is still fleshing out its policies that will allow student-athletes to be paid. There is a blueprint out with some guidelines.

The goal will be to make sure college athletes are not treated like professionals.

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