Getting recruited for college basketball is more complex than many athletes and parents think, and it somewhat subjective because there are no normed hard stats involved, unlike what we see in swimming and track. The NCAA grants over $2.5 billion annually, so if you’re not aware of the steps involved in getting recruited for basketball, you may miss out on a big opportunity. Want to get noticed by and in contact with NCAA Division 1, 2 & 3 basketball coaches? Why not increase your chances of getting one of those highly coveted scholarships? Learn more about how to get recruited for college basketball below, and then take our recommended next steps to boost your exposure as a high school athlete.
How to Get Recruited for College Basketball - A Step by Step Guide
- Initial contact from coach or by the player. The recruitment process for college sports typically begins with an initial introduction/interest letter sent by the coach to an athlete, or an email directly to the coach from a player. Coaches typically send form letters to hundreds or thousands of athletes as a “first sweep” to assess interest among recipients and introduce their program to prospective recruits. These letters often include basic questionnaires for athletes to fill out and send back. Just because you received one of these mass-market emails - often quite personalized with a "Dear John" salutation - directly from a coach does not mean s/he is definitely interested in recruiting you. Although college coaches do aggressively seek out the top athletes on competitive high school and Club teams, there is still much success that can be had by players that make the first contact to coaches via email, and then follow-up. In fact, that is how the majority of student athletes get recruited.
- Base evaluations. If a coach continues to be interested in an athlete after initial contact is made, he/she will follow up with additional desk research. The coach will search online for additional information about the athlete, such as his/her academic portfolio, test scores, GPA, game statistics, and performance records. The coach will also start reviewing video footage and examining the athlete’s specific strengths and weaknesses. At this point, the coach might begin to rank the athlete according to factors such as estimated ability, potential, and academic eligibility. Coaches also make their rounds at the USA basketball national qualifying tournaments, and sometimes even visit regional league Power League tournaments in the upper divisions.
- Campus visit. After a series of personal interactions, the typical next step in the recruitment process is a campus visit. At this stage in the process, the coach is looking to ensure that the athlete is comfortable with the school and the team. The coach also has a chance to interact with the athlete in a new environment and expose the athlete to college life. If the campus visit goes well, the next step in the process is usually the extension of an offer.
Unique Features of the College Basketball Recruiting Process
The college basketball recruitment process in the U.S. is highly competitive compared to other sports. This is especially true for men’s basketball. Along with football recruitment, college basketball recruitment is complex and, unfortunately, political at times. Specific features of the basketball recruitment process that make it unique among other sports include:
- Initial contact: The NCAA allows some contact between coaches and high school athletes during sophomore year, which is notably earlier than in other sports. Both men and women basketball players are allowed to receive initial contact information such as brochures during their sophomore year. Furthermore, athletes are allowed to make calls to college coaches during their sophomore year. For men’s basketball, coaches are allowed to initiate calls to athletes in mid-June of sophomore year; women’s college basketball coaches are not allowed to initiate phone calls to athletes until junior year. View the NCAA’s college-bound athlete guide for more information, including contact rules and timelines according to specific division levels.
- Recruitment periods: Heavy recruitment for college basketball players begins in junior year of high school. According to the NCAA calendars for women’s and men’s basketball, the first contact period of junior year falls in September. Firm “quiet” and “dead” periods are scheduled throughout the year. In an athlete’s senior year, he/she is allowed five official visits to DI schools and unlimited official visits to schools DII and below.Off-campus contact is allowed and coaches are allowed to contact an athlete up to seven times during senior year. View the NCAA’s college-bound athlete guide for more information.
- Influencers: Because the high school basketball season overlaps with the college basketball season, most college coaches recruit during the AAU season. Thus, AAU coaches are a crucial influencers in the recruitment process.
- Commitments: Signing dates for basketball players start in November and go through May (Division I) or August (Division II). Note that college basketball commitments are considered final. In basketball -- unlike in football -- an athlete’s commitment is typically secure; once an athlete commits to a college through a letter of intent, he/she stops contacting and receiving inquiries from other universities.
College Basketball Scholarships
Basketball is one of the top-funded programs in NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA. These organizations regulate the distribution of funds across schools and divisions. For a complete breakdown of the number of scholarships and the differences between NCAA Division I, II, and III rules, see this article by CollegeScholarships.org. If you like to peruse a list of all US colleges that provide basketball scholarships, consult College Basketball & Scholarship Opportunities
The Role of Recruiting Agencies
Because of the money at stake, many athletic recruiting agencies have emerged to assist all parties involved in the basketball recruitment process.
The success levels and value of these agencies is highly debated -- although they do reduce the burden of the recruitment process on the athlete and his/her family, they lose the “personal touch” of one-to-one contact between the player and the coach. Furthermore, the adoption of these services by college coaches across the country is anything but consistent. Whereas some coaches say that they “trust [agencies’] judgements and will take a look at the athletes sent our way,” others say that they immediately delete emails from agencies and consider them “equivalent to spam.”
With this in mind, it’s even more important that high school athletes do everything they can to help themselves stand out and make the recruitment process easy for college coaches. By establishing his/her own independent online profile with detailed academic and athletic information, a high school basketball player can simplify the recruitment process for a coach and stand out among other players. A player’s online profile should include all basic athletic and academic information and records, as well as video clips. A Division III study by the NCAA concludes that 80% of coaches watch videos sent to them. For help setting up your own online athlete profile, contact us.
Why Do I Need an Online Profile?
If you play a team sport, like basketball, volleyball, football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, etc., the recruiting process is somewhat subjective because unlike individual sports like swimming or track that have hard metrics with which coaches can compare athletes, basketball, for example, has a limited number. Yes, there are stats of points, free throw percentages, shot percentages, assists, etc. reported in MaxPreps, but the problem that most college coaches have with high school stats is that they are not all created equally. A player in a D1 high school school faces much stiffer competition than a player in a D5 school, so even if your D4 or D5 school was successful in your county, region, or state, college coaches might not take you seriously because they know that players from smaller schools tend to be smaller and less skilled than their D1 and D2 counterparts. This is not a slight against D4 and D5 high schools; it is just a reality that by having a smaller population of athletes to choose from, the teams tend not to be as competitive. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but by and large that is the reason why high school athletics teams are broken up by school size.
Therefore, it’s really important that athletes who are competing for scholarships and college admissions based on sports participation establish a presence on the web that communicates to college coaches and recruiters that they are fully committed to playing sports in college, and makes it easy for college coaches to find all their grades, test scores, transcripts, film, and profiles all in one convenient online location. Your objective in building an online profile should be to put your best foot forward and make it easy for a college recruiter to say “yes” to you.
Why Should I Include Grades and Test Scores with My Profile?
Most colleges require their athletics teams to keep a minimum average GPA. Therefore, coaches favor athletes who can contribute to this requirement: all things being equal, a coach will recruit a player with a 3.4 high school GPA over a player with a 2.8 GPA. In choosing an online tool to build your profile, be sure to choose one that allow you to attach and post – not just state – your GPA and SAT/ACT scores. And your parents will probably insist that sensitive information be password protected like we do at AthleticsRecruiting. If your grades are decent, use them to your advantage.
Although getting recruited for basketball is competitive, it is also exciting. Your skills are your most important asset, but the ability to convincingly package your accomplishments together with your grades, test scores, stats, coaches’ recommendations, and video helps you make a good impression on college coaches, and makes it easy for them to choose you over others.