What is the difference between a low level Division I school and a high level Division II program during the athletic recruiting process?

What is the difference between a low Division I school and a high Division II school in the athletic recruiting process?When growing up playing basketball, I don’t ever recall saying about how I dream of getting a Division II scholarship offer.  Because of the desire for anyone to play at the Division I level, kids start focusing just on their attention at this level and end up having Division I eyes.  The problem with this is that the Division I school is not always the best option.

The reason I bring this up is because a few years back there was an athlete who played athletics at the Division I level.  This was a very talented player who went to a low Division I school.  Because it was a smaller school and they were competing against much larger programs, it was tough for them to really get going on the court.  And in looking back, it is unclear if the player would follow the same path on the basketball court in the future.

If you take a look at the top Division II programs in the country, there is a lot that they are offering.  They may not have the Division I label but that doesn’t mean they are not better overall than a low level Division I school.  These top tier Division II schools win a lot of games, have great fan support, and compete for some very talented recruits.  The low Division I schools on the other hand may have small crowds and struggle to win games.  But you ca always say that you played at the Division I level.

I saw these Division I eyes a few years back from an athlete in the Midwest.  He was a lower Division I player and ended up with one Division I scholarship offer from a program on the east coast.  But this athlete could have picked any Division II school in the Midwest and played there.  That would have allowed him to stay close to home, get a great education, and play for a school that would win a lot of games and compete for a national title.

His Division I eyes won out and he picked the school hours away from home on the east coast.  Does he regret it?  I don’t know for sure but I would assume that his Division I eyes had a big role in his final decision.  He was able to go to one NCAA tournament at the school but that was all that they accomplished.  He could have been competing for national champions in front of sold out crowds and getting a lot of playing time early.

If I was in that situation, at least now, there are two reasons why I would pick the top tier Division II school over Division I program.  First is if you are a Division I recruit, then there is a good chance you can see the floor early at the Division II level.  I would assume that the Division I coaches know what they are doing (I do wonder at times though) so your ability could project out to see the PT early on.  And in my opinion, most athletes are happier when they play then sit.

The second is that there is little doubt that winning makes for much happier athletes.  If you went to a Division I program and won a total of thirty games in four years, would you honestly be happy with your college experience?  You could brag about the fact that you played Division I sports but that, in my opinion, is definitely not worth it overall.  Winning at the Division II level is worth it.

But in the end, is your pride of saying that you played Division I going to end up being the reason that you pick a school far away from home?  Think about these factors and make some game day visits before you decide on where you will sign.  Just because it is a Division I school doesn’t mean it is always better.

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