Since I first started writing articles on this site somewhere around 18 months now, I have always stressed the importance of considering all of your options in the recruiting process. It doesn’t matter if they are Division I, II, III, NAIA, or anything else you can imagine. Is it really going to hurt you to fill out a Division II questionnaire? In my strong opinion, the answer to that is a definite no.
In a recent email with a prospect, I have received just about every excuse possible as to why he doesn’t want to look at anything but the biggest Division I schools throughout the country. While that is a great dream, being realistic in the recruiting process is a must that will really help you in the long run. There are all the excuses in the world but never one that will answer the question of why you should not consider your options.
The first excuse that I have heard not only from this recruit but plenty of others is the fact that he has not been able to market himself well enough. If you are a senior without any offers at this point and only focused on Division I-A schools, I can promise you that you need to start stressing a great deal. It doesn’t matter what college coaches are telling you. Unless there is a written offer on the table, then I would be worried about the attention and that may force you to want to broaden your search.
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The reason why it is so important to broaden your search is because while every one dreams of a professional career playing the sport that you love, the chances to get that opportunity are extremely limited. Only a small number of college athletes ever get the chance to play any sport professionally, even overseas.
Because of this, the main thing you need to be looking for is a strong academic school. Yes, sports are great and I loved playing them when I was younger. But as you get older, you realize how little they mean and how you should have focused more on academics. You need to use your sport of choice as a means to a college scholarship (or at least more college aid at a smaller school than you would have gotten if you didn’t play sports). If you can turn your God given gifts into less student loans when you graduate, you should be very proud.
Athletes also have what I call Division I eyes. This is when their dream growing up has been to play their sport at the Division I level. When they get to high school and have an excellent career, all they are looking at is how they are going to play Division I football or Division I basketball. They may have full ride offers from Division II schools but since it doesn’t match up with what they are looking for, they pass and don’t give these Division II schools the light of day.
I saw a recruit in the Class of 2012 really end up hurt by the Division I eyes he had. There were many solid Division II programs that were hoping to land him on the basketball court. But when these programs came calling, he either wouldn’t call them back or told them he had Division I offers for another sport. Because he turned off so many Division II schools and the Division I programs ended up looking elsewhere, this recruit didn’t even end up playing the sport that he loved. He picked another sport as a walk on. If he did not have those Division I eyes, he may have found the perfect fit at a Division II schools close to home.
Anyways, the moral of this article is that it is not a wise decision to focus just on one level of college programs. Yes, I would have loved to have the ability to play at a basketball program in a BCS school. But realistically, I was only good enough coming out of high school to be a Division III player. It is a hard pill for some athletes to swallow but there is likely a reason why those Division I schools are not knocking down the door. Realize that the main goal of college is to get a degree, not play at a low major Division I school just to say you played Division I basketball.