Starting at a very young age almost every basketball player goes to bed at night dreaming of one day playing college basketball for their favorite team. Sadly, as these same athletes get older, many begin to lose sight of their lifelong dream. One of the reasons this tends to happen, especially in today's age of internet blogs and chat rooms, is because everywhere they look someone is telling them that this is unrealistic goal and that it should be abandoned!
Well I am here today to emphatically tell you that anything is possible if you are willing to work hard, work smart and make the necessary sacrifices!
Here are 6 things that you can do to improve your chances of being recruited and land that scholarship to your dream school.
#1 Contact Them
On a typical NCAA Division 1 college basketball coaching staff there is anywhere from 4-6 coaches working together. Nearly every program has one Head Coach and three assistant coaches. Depending on the size of the school and the success of the program, the staff might also consist of a Director of Basketball Operations (DOBO) and a Video Coordinator/Secretary. That's only six people to do everything! Chances are very good that they are going to overlook some players now and then.
My biggest piece of advice for you is to be proactive and to contact them! It is often a numbers game and so by contacting coaches at various universities you will automatically improve your chances at getting a look by someone! One mistake I see hundreds of athletes make however is that when contacting coaches they choose to email them. I can tell you from personal experience that a typical Division 1 coaching staff gets numerous emails daily from players asking them to take a look at their "basketball resume." Unfortunately, the majority of coaches are just too busy to take the time to thoroughly look at these emails.
If you are serious about contacting the coach make a phone call! Go online and find the school's athletic website. At the top of the page should be a tab labeled something along the lines of "Inside Athletics." Click that tab and scroll down until you find the link "Staff Directory."This will take to another page listing every coach in every sport that the school has to offer. Here you will be able to find coach's phone number (and email address).
**NCAA rules limit the amount and time when a university coach can call you. The rule states that coaches can't contact you until April of your junior year. However, the rule does not limit how many times you can call them! Warning: if you a leave a message the coach is not permitted to your call. Even if you do leave a message, just keep calling back until you finally get the coach on the phone.**
#2 Follow the Teams on Their Social Media Websites
Another thing you can do to make sure that coaches see your name more often is by following them on their social media sites, particularly Facebook. In today's recruiting process Facebook is becoming a very powerful recruiting tool for both the college and for the prospective student athlete (P.S.A.).
"Liking" the team's Facebook page benefits you in several ways;
1) It allows you to follow the team more closely
2) Every time you "like" or comment on one of their posts or photos your name will pop up in their notification box.
3) If you do decide to write an email to a coach, send it as a message on Facebook. The number of athletes who do this is far less than those who send email which gives you a much better chance that it will be read on the other end!
**A tip for your own social media profiles: Don't post language or pictures that may be considered offensive by anyone! You never know who is watching what you post/tweet.**
#3 Play Summer Basketball (AAU, Club and Camp)
For college coaches, eighty five percent of their recruiting is done in the month of July. It is during this month where the biggest tournaments with the best talent are taking place all throughout the country. If you are not currently playing summer basketball here is why you should seriously consider it:
If a college coaching staff were to go to a high school game they would get the chance to see two teams play. However if the same staff were to go to one of these bigger tournaments they would get the opportunity to evaluate anywhere from 150-300 teams! In terms of money and time it makes a great deal of sense for coaches to attend these tournaments. The best way for you to get noticed is to go where the coaches are!
Another form of summer basketball that has become almost extinct is summer basketball camps. In my opinion if you are an "under the radar" player who has not received the attention that you rightfully deserve you should attend a desired university's summer camp. This is a GREAT way to get exposure. Here's why:
At a summer camp you get the chance to show off your skills to the universities' coaches for four days. It also provides you the chance to learn directly from these coaches during station work as well as get to know the entire coaching staff on a more personal basis. Lastly, strictly based on the numbers involved camp provides the best opportunity for you to get noticed! When a coach goes to a big tournament with 200 teams and if each team has 10 players that's over 2000 players! BUT most camps max out at an enrollment of 250 players. By attending camp you have improved your odds of being noticed from 1 in 2000 to 1 in 250!
In our next article we will discuss three more things you can do to seriously improve your chances of being recruited.
#4 Play HARD
If you put forth the effort to contact college coaches and then make a good impression, chances are that at some point during the summer they will make it to one of your games! To be perfectly honest that is all that you can really ask for - to get an honest evaluation!
I was recently talking with a coach about what they look for when evaluating talent. He started by rambling off the typical skill sets of rebounding, defends, handles the ball and shoots the perimeter shot. Afterwards he asked me what I look for in P.S.A. and I told him I look for three things.
I look for 1) a player's overall athleticism 2) how active they are in all phases of the game and 3) how hard does the athlete play regardless of the score or circumstance.
As a coach it constantly amazes me how many athletes just don't play hard! In my opinion a coach should never have to get on a player about playing hard. Basketball is a fun game and it should be fun to play hard.
As a college coach I can't teach heart, I can't teach hustle, and I can't teach work ethic. However I can teach a player who is willing to learn and to work how to dribble, pass, shoot and rebound. If you are willing to constantly play hard (rebound, dive for loose balls, take charges, sprint back on defense, etc.) you will stick out and you will get noticed.
**Another thing that will get players noticed is simply being a GREAT teammate. If one of your teammates score give him a high-five! If you are on the bench stand up and cheer from the sideline. All the little things really do add up!**
#5 Make an Unofficial Visit
Another thing you can do to set yourself apart from the player is to make an UNOFFICIAL visit to the school's campus. Now an UNOFFICIAL visit is slightly different than an OFFICIAL visit.
The NCAA has restrictions and rules in place that limits the number of athletes that a school can host on OFFICIAL visits and there are also restrictions concerning time of year as well. However, there are virtually no rules limiting UNOFFICIAL visits!
The biggest difference between and UNOFFICIAL and OFFICIAL visit is the money involved. On an OFFICIAL visit the school pays for your travel, food, entertainment etc. On an UNOFFICIAL visit the athlete is responsible for those same travel, food, and entertainment expenses. However, once the athlete is on campus for the most part the visit is exactly the same. Most programs still give the athlete and/or his parents a tour of the campus and athletic facilities, and will sit down over lunch and talk with you about the recruiting process. You and the coaches get to meet each other face to face and get to know each other on a little more personal level. When all is said and done this is a very valuable experience for the athlete!
One of the reasons why I encourage athletes to take UNOFFICIAL visits is because it gives you the chance to have some one-on-one time with the coaches. When a coaching staff is putting together their team they look at things other than basketball related skills. They look at how a student performs in the classroom, their personality, and how he or she will fit in with the rest of the team. The time spent together on the UNOFFICIAL visit gives you the opportunity to show off your personality and might just be enough for the coaching staff to take a second look at you!
#6 Aim BIG but remember SMALL
Of course almost everyone has aspirations of playing Division 1 basketball and competing for the national championship. Unfortunately, there are usually more talented players than there are roster spots available and so when this dream doesn't true many athletes shut down and quit. DON'T!
Even if you aren't recruited to play Division 1 basketball there are still tons of playing options! There are hundreds of D2, D3, NAIA and JC programs all around the country if you want to keep playing. Besides, wouldn't you rather "play" at a smaller school than "sit" at a bigger one?
Remember playing college basketball is much more than playing in front of big crowds and on television. It is about using basketball to have fun, to compete and to challenge yourself while getting your education! Your education is something that will follow you for the rest of your life and the opportunities your education will present will impact your family's life for the next 30, 40 and 50 years!
There you have it, the six ways to increase your chances of being recruited. Follow them and you'll have a much better recruiting experience as well as more opportunities to extend your playing career.