COLLEGE ATHLETICS RECRUITING
The possibility of playing college sports is a rare privilege. College sports are a competitive business. Everybody wants to win, and many people depend on it for their career. There are a limited number of scholarships, and the coach needs to be wise about how he invests them. He is looking for athletes who will take his program to the next level! As a result, coaches take recruiting very seriously. To earn a scholarship you need to be serious too! Take the initiative, get educated, be prepared, and use every resource available to you. There are hundreds of student/athletes just like you who are pursuing one of those precious scholarships. You need to separate yourself from the pack through your character, academics (grades and test scores), athletic ability/performance, and presentation. Being mindful of all of that, here is a guide to how to put yourself in the best position possible; to maximize your God-given potential! The following outlines the Recruiting Process from the Student/Athlete's perspective.
EARN GOOD GRADES AND TEST SCORES.
One of the first questions recruiters ask are "What is his GPA, and what is his test score (SAT or ACT, possibly SAT II)."Check web-sites and College Directories for requirements per school. Some flexibility is occasionally allowed for athletes. For NCAA Division I and II the NCAA Clearinghouse determines four college athletic academic eligibility. It is best to register with the Clearinghouse by the end of your Junior year. Get a form from your Counselor. NAIA schools individually determine your athletic academic eligibility using their national guidelines.
Suggestions as to how to get this done:
Sit at the front right of the class as statistically speaking those that are in the front get better grades. Also there is a first impression for the teacher, as the formulation of a teacher and others will be formed in the first 7 seconds. Complete HW, ask questions in class, turn in HW on time, ask for extra credit. I always suggest that you reach out to the student next to you, from your fellow students. You will gain from their knowledge and experience and you will both enjoy learning experiences. Find out who is going to be helpful to you, who is responsible, turns in his/her work and is on top of the class.
2. PLAY AND EXCEL AT HIGH SCHOOL AND CLUB BASKETBALL.
The college coaches will do a majority of their scouting at summer camps, showcases and high school and club tournaments (especially in July) where they can see numerous players play in one location, at one time. They usually use the Camp and Club season to do initial evaluations, and then use the high school season to do some final evaluation and tracking. But be sure to enjoy your high school experience, and play your very best for the schools' team! Some student-athletes over-emphasize the recruiting process and end up under-achieving because of the excessive pressure they put on themselves to impress recruiters, an over-emphasis upon statistics, or saving themselves for college. Work hard, hustle, and play your game to help your team! Be coachable! Recruiters usually ask is, "is he/she coachable?" The first place recruiters will go for more information on you is to your high school and club coaches. Recruiters are looking for leaders/impact players. Be a leader and positive influence on your team!
Suggestions as to how to get this done:
Have a player development plan that will include your fundamentals of ball handling, shooting, passing but especially footwork. Be sure to have a conditioning plan in place so that you are in top physical condition and able to do the work that you will be required to do at the next level. Read about other leaders in other sports, do research on what they do and why they do it. Then become that leader within your own program. College coaches are looking for players to come into their programs to fit in with who is already there and who they will be able to count on to be a leader on and off the court.
3. DISPLAY A GOOD ATTITUDE.
When coaches go to game, they don't only watch you to see if you make any great plays. They also watch to see how you interact with your coach, teammates, opponents, and the officials. Always hustle on and off the court, and NEVER display any negative emotion. Even when you are on the bench, a coach will be watching. Sit by the coach and pay attention, cheer and encourage your teammates, and hustle to the table to check back in, and then communicate with the player coming off the floor. Always remember that someone may be watching and evaluating you.
Create a list of colleges you are interested in that offer the degree that you might like to work towards. Meet with your Counselor, Coach and Parents to discuss your academic and athletic potential. Try to trim your list to 4-6 colleges by the start of your senior year.
Make a list of schools on three levels:
1) Ideal colleges
2) Realistic colleges
3) Back-up colleges
Get educated on the variety of levels of college athletics. Colleges determine which level they are going to compete at, not by their size or enrollment but by how much they are going to financially invest into athletics. Be careful to choose the best level for your needs, abilities, and desires. Strive for your goals, but be realistic. Here's a brief, generalized description of the various levels:
NCAA Division 1: Offer the most scholarships, all full.
NCAA Division II: Offer 50-67% of the scholarships D-l offers per sport.
NCAA Division III: NO athletic scholarships. Will help with grants and financial aid based on need and achievement.
NAIA: Offer full and partial scholarships, and will help with grants and financial aid.
Level of competition ranges between NCAA D-II and D-III.
All levels have walk-ons on their roster = non-scholarship players who earn a spot on the team (either pre-arranged or earned at try-outs), pay their own expenses, but is treated as a regular player in every other way. Also, most programs will have a Red-Shirt program. This means the athlete practices with the team, but doesn't participate in any games. After the year the athlete will still have four years of Athletic Eligibility remaining.
Take out a map and then where would you like to go? Have you ever been outside of your state? Have you lived in different types of weather? Don’t say I will play anywhere, b/c if you get an offer from a school in Vermont and you are not willing to go there, then you waste their time as well. Different parts of the country have different feelings and you should try to realistically look for a place that you would enjoy.
Ask yourself do you want gear or a career? Many athletes want the NCAA Division 1 experience and get great gear but never see the floor and leave the game frustrated and without much involvement. Or you can selected a school that fits you, a place where you are wanted and a place where you will have a chance to play, to have a career, to score a 1000 points and then return to your Alma Mater in the future welcomed, is a much different collegiate experience.
5. GO TO COLLEGE GAMES AND PRACTICES.
Go and learn from the best. Become a student of the game. Don't compare yourself to high school players. A large percentage of them won't play college ball. See what level you have to take your game to. Watch the best players' work ethic and technique. Most college teams will allow you to attend their practices by appointment (ask your coach to call). Colleges will allow you to attend games for free, usually with a guest or two. Ask your coach to call to get you on the Guest List. Check out all levels.
Call any coaching staff, they can always take a call from an incoming recruit. There are rules that prohibit them from making calls to prospective student athletes but they can answer phone calls made to them. Ask them if you can come in and watch practice. You may not have contact with the staff but that is ok, you will get to see how the players and coaches interact with each other.
6. SEND A PACKET
Introduce yourself to the coaches at the schools on your list. Take the initiative. If you are interested in a school don't wait for them to "discover" you. Contact them, and let them know you are sending information, and then they are more likely to review it. Have several packets on hand and send them to whomever you contact, or they may request them. Packet should include a cover letter, resume, unofficial transcript, letters of recommendation, video, high school and club schedule, and roster.
Business Format: Letter Head and Concise
Single space - Double space between paragraphs
Font: 12 pt. Times New Roman or Courier
Four brief paragraphs:
I. Thank the coach for his interest in you (or his time if you are initiating contact). Remember that you are hoping for a scholarship that is valuable to him. It is worth a lot of money, the success of his program, and possibly his job, and is dependent upon his wise investment of this limited resource (the scholarship, aid, or roster spot).
II. Tell the coach why you are interested in his college and athletic program. One thing that can set you apart from the crowd is your interest in his school, and your initiative.
III. Tell the coach how you would benefit her program. Remember that the coach is looking for the best student/athletes with the best character who will specifically fit into her program. Include relevant team and individual honors, awards, and statistics here.
IV. Thank the coach again for his time. Remember that humility, "Thank you," and "Please" are attributes and terms which are rarely used these days.
Resume: Information can include as much of the following as you would like.
Personal Information-Name, Graduating Class, Date of Birth, Location of Birth, Address, Phone, Fax, Social Security Number, Name of Mother, Mother's Occupation, Mother's Work Phone Number, Name of Father, Father's Occupation, Father's Work Phone, Brothers & Sisters Names and Birthdates. If anybody in your family has a history in sports as a player or coach, include the details.
Academic Information-Current School, School Address, School Phone Number, Principal's Name, Guidance Counselor's Name, Coach's Name, Coach's Work Phone Number, Coach's Home Phone Number, List GPA, List PSAT, List SAT, List ACT, List Rank In Class, List Academic Interests, List Academic Awards and if applicable, List Any Previous Schools.
Athletic Information-Position, Height Without Shoes, Fingertip Arm Span, Weight, Shoe Size, Annual Statistics (Win/Loss Record, 3FGM, 3FGA, FGM, FGA, FTM, FTA, AST, OREB, TREB, BS, STL, PTS, PPG. Feature statistics Against Ranked Teams, Honors/Highlights.
This is a crucial part of the Recruiting process, especially for the lower division colleges who don't have the staff and budget to recruit like the Dl schools. Make sure the video is clear, doesn't have distracting audio (such as cameraman yelling at the referees, or making negative comments), and the view includes all 10 players (not zoomed in on one player). As long as the following format is followed, the quality of the video is not as crucial as some think. Obviously coaches need to be able to identify numbers on the video, so dark and far away is not good. But an expensive, professional quality video with special effects, music, and graphics is nice but certainly not necessary. The following is an outline for an ideal video. Only # 3 is mandatory.
I. Brief personal introduction:
Dress casual/nice and introduce yourself on camera. State your name, position, school and coach, club team and coach, and any other information you want, such as some pertinent academic and athletic statistics, what number you are and what the following games might be. Be out-going, well-spoken, and friendly.
II. Individual highlights.
Less than a minute at the beginning of the video. Coaches do not want to see just highlights, but rather continuous action of you playing. However, you need to grab their attention and hold it so that they keep on watching the video.
III. Game video.
When sending a videotape to colleges you want to highlight your positive attributes. Believe it or not, some coaches also view parts of a video when you are not in the game to evaluate your "body language" on the bench in hopes that it can help them assess your attitude. Include at least three (3) or four (4) continuous halves. Pick your best halves that display a variety of things that you do (shooting, passing, defense, rebounding, etc) these should be your best performances with a good start. If you don't do much for the first eight minutes or so the coach is likely to stop watching. Remember, he has dozens of other videos to watch. Optional: Maybe finish with another thirty seconds of highlights containing a voice over regarding your collegiate goals.
7. SCOUTING SERVICES.
Are an option and some can be useful. Some college coaches use them; others throw the hundreds of flyers that they receive into the circular file. Services may cost upwards of $500 and some can be thousands of dollars. You can choose to use a scouting service, or bypass the service and contact colleges on your own with the help of your parents, coaches, and counselors.
8. KEEP AN UPDATED LIST OF HONORS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
Have an updated resume available and update it regularly. This includes academic, athletic, civic, team, extracurricular honors, awards, and activities.
9. CREATE YOUR OWN WEB PAGE.
Many internet providers, blogs, and email services will allow you to set up a small web page. These can normally be completed in less than thirty minutes by someone with little, or no, computer savvy. Use this to set up an online resume` and promote yourself to several colleges. Provide an information center for them to check on your progress. Include contact information, height, weight, statistics, GPA, SAT, schedule, photos, etc. You can include a link to the page in emails to colleges or print the page for a ready-made resume. View a sample free page here.
10. APPLY TO THE COLLEGE
Once you have the college choices narrowed to a reasonable number, many of them will want you to apply for admission. Make sure to meet these deadlines (many of which are in Jan/Feb of your senior year-some even earlier). You may qualify you for application fee waivers at several colleges. You must apply for a fee waiver through your school counselor. Many schools also will waive the application fee if you use that schools online application service. This step is crucial otherwise you may cut your options significantly.
11. APPLY FOR THE FAFSA.
Applications will be available in your school counseling office in December. This single application determines your eligibility for government grants (In California they are the CAL GRANT & PELL GRANT) and loans. The CAL GRANT A award provides $3,400 to University of California Schools $1,500 to California State University’s, and up to $9,700 at independent colleges. The Pell ranges from $400 to $3,125. You may also qualify for FSEOG grants, Work-Study, subsidized and non-subsidized student loans. The first day you can submit the FAFSA is January 2. Deadline is March 1. (Dollar figures are approximate)
12. YOU KNOW YOU ARE A SERIOUS RECRUIT
When the college coach offers you a visit, you are a serious recruit. Coaches begin the recruiting process by sending out tons of letters. Most colleges will begin the recruiting process by sending you a questionnaire. Don't throw it away. You never know how the recruiting process is going to end and that school that you have never heard of may end up being the best situation for you. Each coach on the staff then may make phone calls to dozens of players until then; the coach is constantly checking what recruits are interested. When they narrow their list down to their top prospects they start offering "Official Recruiting Visits." In NCAA Divisions I and II these are limited, so the coaches only use them on their top recruits and they cannot offer those until your junior year and only after they have one or more of your qualifying test scores (PSAT, SAT, etc). An NCAA Division I and II Official Visit includes paid for transportation and expenses while visiting. NAIA and NCAA Division III schools usually do not pay for transportation, but pay for expenses during the visit. The NCAA only allows recruits to take a maximum of five Division I and II "Official Visits." NAIA and Division III don't limit the number of official visits. A recruit can make an unlimited number of "Unofficial Visits." This is defined as the recruit paying for all of his own expenses. Make an appointment with the coach before you visit. The college is under some restrictions on how often they can call you, but you can call them anytime.
CAMPUS VISITATION REMINDERS
No matter if you receive financial support or you are paying your own way, what you see is what you get. Remember to:
- Talk to as many people as possible, including the ENTIRE team and coaching staff, along with other students, faculty, campus employees, etc.
- Insist on having somebody on the academic side detail in writing a curriculum that will satisfy your degree preference
- Schedule an interview with the admissions office to determine how you compare to other students
- Learn about the college environment
- Determine the placement record for students in your field
- Attend a class
- Check out all facilities (residence halls, dining facilities, training facilities, arena, etc.)
- Ask about the financial aid opportunities
- Obtain a school calendar and fee schedule
- Take a campus tour
- Identify career planning services for undergrads
- Visit the library
- Investigate transportation options
- Find out what students do outside class time
- Become aware of student activities
- Inquire about campus life & social activities
CHOOSING A SCHOOL
Your Senior Year should not be dominated by basketball recruitment, but rather maintaining a balance that will allow you to participate in all school and extracurricular activities of your choice while laying the groundwork for attending college in the fall. By September of your senior year, you should be able to determine if it appears you will receive a scholarship in November, if you will keep your options open for scholarship opportunities offered during the post-season signing period, or if you will need to participate in the traditional college application process. Remember the following:
- Recognize your strengths and weaknesses
- Consider ALL colleges of interest
- Look at your future with enthusiasm
Consider your reasons for attending college:
- Personal Goals
- Career Preparation
- Learning Opportunities
- Life Values
- Influence of family and friends
Identify college characteristics important to YOU!
- Majors and educational programs
- Type of school
- Location and size
- College affiliation and accreditation
- Academic reputation
Investigate and compare colleges:
- Prepare a college comparison checklist
- Weigh advantages and disadvantages
- Contact the admissions office
- Plan your campus visits
Checklist for a campus visit:
- Take a campus tour
- Talk with students and faculty
- Investigate your academic program
- Meet with an admissions counselor
- Verify admissions requirements
- Discuss your chances for success
Make some decisions:
- Confer with your parents, counselor and coaches
- Evaluate your options at each college
- Keep rethinking your goals and plans
- Show initiative and be assertive
- Select school that "fits you" best
QUESTIONS TO ASK
- What's the academic reputation like?
- Do they have your course of study?
- Who teaches (professors or aides)?
- What is the student/teacher ratio?
- What is the team graduation rate?
- Is there a team academic advisor?
- Is there a study hall?
- Is tutorial assistance provided?
- What is the progress report/grade policy?
- What is the travel resulting in missed class policy?
- What is the fifth year to finish degree policy?
- What is the summer school policy?
- What positions are you being recruited for?
- What other players are they recruiting?
- Recruitment of other players at your position?
- Will you be able to play, considering returnees?
- What is their style of play?
- What is the Head Coaches philosophy?
- What are the team policies?
- How does the team get along?
- What is the level of competition?
- Does the conference earn an NCAA bid?
- What media coverage does the program get?
- What kinds of facilities are available to the team?
- What is the practice schedule?
- Are there summer/pre/post season workouts?
- Can you play another sport?
- Can you participate in intramural activities?
- Health care of athletes?
- Scholarship injury policy?
- Meal plan (training table)?
- Is food kept for late practices?
- Athletic dormitories or student housing?
- Policy concerning off-campus housing?
- Distance from home?
- Will games be scheduled closer to home?
COLLEGE BASKETBALL PROGRAM ASSESSMENT
Name of School
(Rate each category on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being “best”)
Desired Degree Program
Strength of Desired Degree Program
Proximity to Home
Compatibility w/Returning Players
Mode of Travel
Relationship with Coach
Relationship with Past Players
Past Record of Success
Teaching Ability (“make me a better player”)
Fairness & Honesty
Stability at School (“will he be there my entire career?”)
Relationship with Staff
Ability to Teach
Ability to Recruit
What does it take to get a college scholarship? I have always been asked this question. I have helped every player that has played under me to move onto the next level using basketball as a tool to get an education. You have to find the right fit. You have to choose between having gear vs. having a career.