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Ryan James has been covering Minnesota high school basketball for nearly 20 years and is one of the most respected recruiting analysts in the country, but he is apparently ineligible to receive a media credential to the Minnesota Boys' Basketball State Tournament. 

James wears many hats related to high school basketball. He's the national analyst and regional event director for Prep Hoops, writes for Gopher Illustrated, Northstar Hoops, and Breakdown Sports USA. If there's a marquee basketball game or tournament, you'll find James there. 

Asked why he wasn't provided credentials by the MSHSL, James replied: "I don't meet the criteria," adding that he's just one of many blocked from gaining access to the tournament, including his colleague at Northstar Hoops, Alex Conover. 

You can find the postseason tournament credential criteria on page 14 of the MSHSL's media policy manual

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Conover believes the MSHSL has "written in rules to clearly block us" from being credentialed at this year's tourney, which is being held at Target Center and Williams Arena.

He cited Nos. 7 and 10 in the league's criteria policies, which state that recruiting services "do not qualify as a news-gathering organization," and that the MSHSL has the right to block anyone "on a case-by-case basis."

Bring Me The News has asked the MSHSL to explain why James and others have been denied credentials. 

In 2019, the MSHSL denied The Athletic its credential request to cover the Minnesota Boys' Hockey State Tournament. After significant pushback, The Athletic's nationally-renowned Wild hockey writer Michael Russo announced that the MSHSL caved and allowed the outlet to cover the tournament in-person. 

The MSHSL initially blocked The Athletic from covering that tournament because it has paywall. This was despite giving access to the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press, both of which have paywalls built into their websites, albeit allow a certain number of "free" articles before the paywall kicks in. 

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But space is a legitimate issue at the Xcel Energy Center for the boys' hockey tournament, which is sold out years in advance. The boys' basketball tournament rarely sells out, so even if media row is full of deserving reporters covering teams from all over the state, there should be space in the stands to at least give people like James a seat. 

That's exactly what the NFL did when the Super Bowl was hosted by Minneapolis in 2018. Hundreds of reporters from around the world, including Bring Me The News, were provided extra space in the upper deck to cover the game. 

The second day of the state tournament is Wednesday. As of now, James, Conover and others like them will still be providing in-depth coverage, albeit while streaming the quarterfinal games for a fee at PrepSpotlight.TV/MSHSL

You can find state tournament coverage from Ryan James, Alex Conover and TC Hoops Czar on their social media accounts, as all have been and will continue to cover the games extensively despite being blocked by the MSHSL. 

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