This past season I witnessed one of the most unusual basketball recruiting stories that I had seen in a long time. This happens from time to time but this type of athlete is rare. A few years back, I had seen this basketball player in action a number of different times. He was a solid guard who knew how to play the game. But athletically, he was rather limited and pretty short in stature. There were also questions about if he was a point guard or a shooting guard.
I would have told you after his senior year that he would have been a very good Division III basketball player and potentially a Division II scholarship kid. With little recruiting attention, this athlete decided to take the Junior College route. Maybe he went against all the advice of having Division I eyes that I have talked about but he decided that was his best option at the time.
During the two years that he was at the Junior College level, he continued to get better and better. He improved his game, became stronger with the ball, and moved full time to point guard. This recruit was a much better player with those two years of development and maturity.
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By his second year at the Junior College, this recruit started receiving Division I scholarship offers. They were from mid major programs but considering it was a kid that I thought was a lower level Division II athlete, it surprised me. And the more I looked into it, the more scholarships he was received. In the end, he had a handful of offers before picking a school that was in his home state.
I have to admit that I was surprised about how well this athlete was doing and had egg on my face for underestimating him. But because college coaches cannot measure the heart of a recruit, this athlete just continued to get better and better over the summer and in his first with the program. This athlete ended up being the fourth leading scorer on a team that made the NCAA tournament and nearly won their first round game. With another year of workouts, the sky is the limit for him.
This story doesn’t happen everyday. Obviously kids who decide on the Junior College level are taking a big risk on their sporting futures. Many end up quitting at the JC and never play again. What is sad about that is these athletes had a number of smaller level schools that were perfect fits for them that they decided to pass up. They thought they were better than them.
This athlete had the willpower, determination, and work ethic to be able to pull it off. In at least 90% of the situations that I see, most athletes who go to a Junior College don’t end up going to a much higher level than they could have after high school. But in a situation like this athlete, his heart overcame his size and helped him lead his team to a conference title this past winter.
Are you this type of recruit? I couldn’t tell you that. You may be better off going to a four year school at a smaller program and excelling there. Others may at least want to try a year at a Junior College to see if they can live up to their Division I dreams. For this recruit, things couldn’t have worked out much better.