Getting Recruited and Choosing a School


The recruiting process overwhelms and confuses so many young people and their parents and their coaches, so I hope some of these thoughts will be helpful.

Here are the 3 keys to getting recruited:

1. Proactive

For some reason, it seems as if most prospects and their parents and their coaches operate under the completely incorrect assumption that college coaches show up to the big events in April and July having done no homework whatsoever beforehand regarding which kids they intend to see. Nothing could be further from the truth. College coaches DO NOT stagger around aimlessly gym to gym hoping to find some kids they like. On the contrary, they do months of research ahead of time to determine precisely which gym, which kid, and what time- their entire schedule from 8 AM to 10 PM is mapped out prior to the big tournaments getting started, which pretty much means that if you’re not on their list of kids to see, you won’t get seen. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s not that hard to get on college coaches’ lists of kids to see IF you are PROACTIVE (D3, D2, NAIA, and small D1- it’s substantially harder to get on mid plus and high major lists of kids to see). Simply put, send off hundreds of emails to coaches at schools that interest you BEFORE the big events get underway with a link to some video clips, your transcript, your test scores, and your schedule and invite them to come see you play (this is also a good strategy before your high school season gets started, although it’s much harder to get seen during the high school season due to college coaches also being in season and the convenience and practicality the big “AAU” tournaments provide).

2. Persistent

Recruiting mirrors life, in that you must persevere through disappointments and keep pressing forward. It’s a fact that the vast majority of college coaches will not reply to your initial email. It’s a mistake to assume that no reply means no interest- more often than not, no reply means they didn’t take the time to watch the clips due to professional irresponsibility and laziness. So, wait a week, then email the coaches again who didn’t reply. Then, email them again in another week. Eventually, you can shame even the really sorry ones into doing their jobs and you will actually receive a reply. Recruiting is so much like finding a job- if you’re a 7 footer with skill or if you graduate from Harvard law school at the top of your class, they will come to you. For the rest of us, we need to market ourselves to them, and keep on keeping on until we find someone who is willing to give us a chance.

3. Realistic

You can be proactive and persistent, but if you’re a decent role player on your high school team and you’re only proactively and persistently emailing the likes of Duke and Kentucky, it’s not going to work out for you. My advice, if you have no recruiting interest whatsoever, begin with D3 and work your way up from there (ie, if D3 coaches seem very excited, go ahead and email D2 coaches, and so on).

Here are the 3 keys to choosing a school:

1. Pick a SCHOOL first and a basketball program second

Other than who you marry, choosing a college is the single most important decision a young person makes. With this in mind, DO NOT allow the recruiting process to dominate the college selection process. Picking a school should be about LIFE, not basketball, so you should choose a college based on key factors like peer group, graduate school/law school/medical school acceptance rates, job placement rates, and salary projections. It’s devastating to me when a kid has always dreamed of being an engineer, but he picks a school that doesn’t even offer engineering because he thinks he has formed a “special bond” with an assistant coach, or when a kid who wants to be a doctor chooses a school with a 9% medical school acceptance rate because that school has an awesome gymnasium and locker room. In other words, you want to focus on the 40 year plan, not the 4 year plan.

2. Try to choose a school with a head coach who is a decent human being

Unfortunately, due to the money and fame currently involved in college athletics, college coaching is attracting people with much lower character than it once did. While the 1st factor above is BY FAR the most important factor, it’s true that a selfish and abusive psychopath head coach can ruin not just your basketball experience but indeed your college experience. With this in mind, look at rosters from previous seasons at schools you’re considering and find those kids on Facebook and ask them what they think about their former coach. It’s an awful mistake to rely on instinct in judging the character of your future coach because college coaches are highly skilled professional liars. With this in mind, again, rely on research, not instinct (NOTE: if a kid who never played says the coach is a great guy, then he is; if a kid who was all-league says the coach is a turd, then he is- be aware that kids can be biased based on playing time so take that into account as you do your homework).

3. Try to choose a school where you have a chance to earn early playing time

It’s rough not playing as a freshman, and many kids can’t handle it (of the 475 D1 kids who transferred, the vast majority were kids who weren’t playing as much as they thought they should be). So, look into the returning roster and the other incoming players to make sure you’ll have a fair chance (an incoming kid almost never digs out a returning starter or all-league kid), and consider choosing the “level” where you’re most wanted (ie, if you have 12 D3 schools on you hard but only 1 D2 school, you’re probably best off going D3; if you have 12 mid major schools on you hard but only high major school, you’re probably best off going mid major).

Thanks so much for reading, and thanks to Coach Raveling for providing this terrific platform to share ideas

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