Some sound advice from two Division I basketball coaches

Recruiting Advice from Division I basketball coaches in a quest for a scholarshipRecently, I had a chance to speak with two coaches who have extensive Division I experience. One was the Director of Basketball Operations (aka DOBO) at a basketball program that made the Final Four in the last few years. The other was a basketball graduate assistant at a school in the SEC and he is a full time assistant coach at a Division I program. Both are no older than 26 years old so they are attune to what is happening in recruiting and I had a long talk with them about how recruits can help their stock. Because this is basketball, it does vary in comparison to football but there are a few valid points that may make this worth reading.

The main issues that I talk to both of them about how athletes can help coaches to recognize that they had ability. The first question I asked them was about if a kid sends a tape to that school, without a request or any prior contact, what happens to it. The consensus was that no one watches it and it basically goes in the garbage. So take that to heart if you are mass sending out highlight videos without any prior contact with Division I basketball coaches. It is a waste of money as well as time. One of the coaches, who is just a basketball junkie, would sometimes watch the tapes himself because he loves hoops. But he said no kids were recruited off of just sending tape.

One area that could help your tape get watched is having the pull of a high school coach. College coaches know that they need to befriend high school coaches, especially ones that send many players to the Division I level, so having the high school coach call on your behalf is really helpful. While it may not lead to a scholarship offer, it would not hurt to have your high school coach call around and send out information about you. Again, I would not recommend just sending tape without a request previously. I think it is just a waste of resources in the end.

The one interesting point, and this is for all sports, that one of the coaches made, is it is not easy to sit down, throw in a tape, and watch it of the player. But what could really help the athlete is to have their highlights online available for the coach to see. It would be best to have a domain name, like www.michaeljordan.com where they can see your highlights. Make sure your highlights are clear and shows some of your best plays. This at least gives the college coach a chance to see you in action quickly. If you have some serious ability, then having this footage online is a good way of giving the coaches a quick peak at your ability.

As far as recruiting services and the information that they provide on prospective recruits, at the Division I basketball level, I was told that this is just thrown away. Because they are so busy with in-season practices, recruiting, out of season workouts, clinics, and anything else you can imagine, they do not waste their time with this. I would expect that Division III and smaller programs may spend more time on this, but if you are spending hundreds and probably thousands of dollars on a recruiting service, you feel you are better than that level. One of the coaches told me a story about how important it is to get your information out early, and if possible, try to have a break out season before your senior year (And yes, I understand that is out of the control of a lot of athletes). Anyways, this coach told me about a player who came off the bench as a junior and averaged around ten points per game in Illinois (Which is good basketball). Because the player wasn’t a stand out, he didn’t play AAU basketball and so that hurt him. Once his senior year rolled around, he had an excellent year and was among the top ten vote getters for Mr. Basketball. This athlete played at a basketball powerhouse and his coach contacted as many small Division I schools that he felt would be a good fit. But because it was so late in the process (Spring of his senior year), most of the schools were either done with recruiting or knew who they were targeting in that recruiting class. The athlete didn’t get a sniff at the Division I level outside of walking on and ended up playing Division III basketball. He was named All American and had an outstanding career at the school he choose.

This same coach talked to me about how important AAU basketball is because it gives a chance to see athletes play against top competition. If you are at a smaller school in your state, it is tough to prove you can play with the big boys at that level. So overall, here are some of the big things that I got out of the conversations with these coaches (Who I greatly appreciated answering my questions).

  • Unless you are a top 100 talent in your class, don’t waste the time and money to send out tapes without having them requested by the coach. These tapes will end up in the garbage.
  • If you are trying to play Division I basketball and are not receiving much interest, seriously consider walking on.
  • Playing AAU at the national level is a must for anyone trying to play college basketball at a high level.
  • Even if recruiting services promise to send your profile to every college in the country (Which I have seen), don’t expect Division I coaches to look at it.
  • Having video highlights available online is a cheap and easy way for the coach to at least get a peak at your ability.
  • Like I have said before, it is important to get your information out to coaches as early as possible

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