Today I am going to tell you what to do if you want to play in college. I will give you a road map for each level of play. The one thing I everyone needs to know is this: its 100% okay to dream and chase your dream. But, you must have a fall back plan if things don’t work out. Regardless of what level, you need to understand that you must work hard to achieve your goals. Having an advocate goes a long way in helping you gain name recognition. But, your advocate must have two things: credibility and a track record.
There are some real things you must understand: what level of D3 basketball you wish to play. If that is the highest level of D3, you must understand that you will need not only to be talented, but you also need to be highly competitive. As I told you yesterday, the Top D3 schools often operate like D1 schools; they recruit and are selective in who is on their roster. If you choose to pursue this level there are some things you must do. First, you must make contact with the school as early as possible. That means verbally or in person. E -mails and texts are great after you have established a relationship. Once you have a relationship, it’s very important that you get on campus and meet the staff. Meeting the players is not important until you decide you want to attend the school or are accepted into the school. First, the coaches must express that they want you in their program. Next, and this is BIG at the D3 level, apply to the school and more importantly apply for financial aid. The earlier you apply the more aid is available. The later you apply, the less aid is available. Remember, ask the coaching staff to speak to the school about wavering the application fee. Yes, they can do this…
Now, here are some things that you can do to make yourself desirable to D3 coaches. The better your grades, the more money you will get. Coaches don’t want to spend all their time recruiting a kid they know can’t afford the school or get accepted . But, if you have the grades, they have an idea of how much aid you will get. Next, have your high school coach call the HEAD COACH. You must understand often at D3 there is only one full time coach. The Asst. Coach may have a full time job outside of coaching. Deal with the head coach as often as possible. Next, nothing is more valuable at this level than video. Division 3 schools often don’t have the budget of the staff to get to games; especially if they are not local. Wet their appetite with video; send a highlight and a game tape. But understand, the quality must be good. Trust me, if the quality is not good, coaches will not watch the video in full or more than once. Finally, go to campus and play against their players. The coaches at this level are allowed to watch you play.
Checklist for D3
- Make sure you know the Academic requirements for the school
- Attend D2/D3 showcases
- Scouting services are good but know there are many bogus services
- Attend Ivy and Patriot League Elite camps, D3 coaches often attend these camps
- Understand getting to know people in the financial aid office is BIG
- ALWAYS ASK FOR MORE MONEY ONCE YOU GET YOUR PACKAGE, many schools have grants sitting around that go unused. Ask questions and constantly contact the financial aid department…. BE A PEST!
- The sooner you know that you want to play D3, the more options and interest you will have.
The recruiting at this level can be difficult on a player for a number of reason. First, if your a borderline D1 player, Division 2 school may recruit you hard. They will give you deadlines and try to get you to commit. D2 schools don’t want to be held hostage while you are trying to get a D1 offer. Now, here is another thing about D2 schools: often they will wait on players who are transferring or on a player that they know they can steal. There is a dance that goes on at the D2 level regarding money as well. Some schools split money up throughout the roster. They try and package a player with grants, financial aid, and finally scholarship money. Many schools will only give you what they think they have to give you. If you are not being heavily recruited, they may feel they can hold back some money. If you have multiple options they will give you more. It is a cat and mouse game that goes on just about every day.
If you want to get a D2’s attention, here are some things you should do: First, go to any event where D2 coaches are allowed to attend. They have different rules than D1 and for the most part can go watch players play anytime they want. Go to as many events that your budget will allow you to attend. The more times you play in front of D2 coaches, the more it increases your opportunity to get a scholarship. Next, try to attend D2 elite games and play pick up at the school. Make sure you are sending as much video as possible. You must create name recognition and interest. Send coaches articles and clipping of your accomplishments. There is nothing like an advocate at the D2 level. Ask D1 schools who have seen you play to recommend you to D2 schools. The one thing about D2 recruiting you must understand….be committed in building relationships with coaches. You cannot call or contact D2 schools enough. Even the top D2 school have limited recruiting budgets. It’s very important to remember that at the D2 level, there are tons of options for coaches to choose from. (More so than any other level, so you must find a way to separate yourself.) But, remember the top D2 schools don’t want to settle for D2 players early in the recruiting process. THEY WANT D1 SLEEPERS!
You must make unofficial visits to schools that are not recruiting you; that you have a interest in. Really, how are they ever going to start recruiting you if they don’t know you? Pick up the phone and call the coaching staff to make an appointment. If you’re nervous, have your advocate make the first call. This year I will have a D2/D3 recruiting day at NBS …no charge. This will create visibility and maybe a D2/D3 may steal a D1 player. Maybe a D2/D3 coach will tell their D1 friends about a sleeper. Things have changed and you better get with the times folks.
Checklist for D2
- Make sure you have options; this will get you more scholarship money
- Make sure the school has your major
- D2 coaches get fired like D1 coaches, know the head coaches history
- Take the initiative…be aggressive in your approach
- Attend games and get to know the staff
- Don’t feel rejected if they don’t offer right away. D2s are always trying to get the best player and are willing to let things play out, before moving on.
- The D2 recruiting in some case doesn’t end until the first day of school.
I’m going to give you a real dose of reality. I have always said when it comes to recruiting; information is king. Now more than ever you better pay real attention to what I’m about to tell you. If you do not enjoy being in the gym or working out 4-5 hours a day, forget this level. In order to get to this level, you must have a true work ethic. So, let me start with a few things you need to know.
If you are a junior or a senior right now without a offer: Unless you gain some name recognition starting in the spring and growing as the summer approaches, that’s not changing anytime soon. So, let me explain why you need a game plan. The fall recruiting period has always been a chance for a kid to get one final look from college coaches; especially D1 coaches. It’s always been a time when many schools are in scramble mode. In other words, they have missed on all their top recruits. Those days are GONE. There is no last look for college coaches in scramble mode in the fall. But, I’m going to tell you how you can still keep your recruiting dreams alive.
First, if you do not have a QUALITY AS IN HIGH QUALITY spring/summer highlight tape. Stop reading this blog right now and go make one. Your highlight tape is more important than ever now. It will not get you a scholarship, but it will create interest and get your name into college coaches’ recruiting meetings. It’s called name recognition and nothing is more important in recruiting. Next you better have somebody coaches respect, calling on your behalf. Yes, it matters who is calling for you. Not to brag, but Tiny Green calling for you, is far better than your local YMCA coach. You need to listen and listen good to what I’m about to say next: somebody calling on your behalf one time is not an advocate. Your advocate must be relentless in calls, texts, e mails, and most important follow up calls. You must personally speak to coaches and sell yourself as well. You must convince coaches to come see you play in open gym and during the season. You must convince them to truly watch your videos. Here is a little secret about college coaches: they only watch game tapes if they have a real interest in learning more about you. You better make sure they really want to get to know you or like you. If they do like you, they will want to help you even if you don’t attend their school. The days of sitting around waiting for the live period and hoping to get discovered is for the birds. When a school says they’re out of scholarships, pay no mind to that. Somebody every year transfers or has their scholarship taken. Have you seen the transfer portal lately? Over 1200 kids are in it looking to transfer.
Now you must try and film everything, why? The stakes are too high now and quality video in HD with real quality audio is going to rule the fall and winter. You better invest in some good equipment and sell it to another player down the road when you’re done. Trust me, the way the NCAA is going…your going to need it!!. Now, once you have the video, you better have the competition. D1 schools want to see you against the D1 players as well. If you plan on playing D1, make no mistake; who you are playing against on film matters. Coaches will want to see you against other D1 competition. At NBS, for example, a player will be in the gym with up to 50 D1 players at one time. It is not easy to create that type of environment. But, if D1 is your goal, you better get on the phone and start calling some of the better players to play pick up and FILM IT.
Now let’s talk about the process at the D1 level. First, if you are a Power 5 type player, you have received interest after your freshman year. Justine Pissott, for example, had multiple power 5 offers on the table as a Freshman. These players are in a totally different category. If your goal is to play at a P5 school, you better get it done quickly. Yes, there are kids who get P5 offers in the summer of their junior year. In most cases, they are a 3rd and 4th options. While I was not my wife’s first option, things have worked out. That is not the case in the P5 basketball world…trust me! The Patriot and Ivy’s are also in their own category, these schools value your grades and SAT or ACT scores before they even get to the basketball recruiting process. These two are another discussion for another day.
The recruiting process is now at lighting speed. Now nobody likes this; not the coaches, parents, or NCAA. But, the fact of the matter is the D1 recruiting process starts in the 7th grade these days. So understand this, the sooner you get going, the better. I believe 8th grade is the latest you can get started. So you better understand, the recruiting process for D1 in most cases ends July of your junior year. There are still lots of scholarships available, but your job is harder after July. Just know this: 355 schools are out there. Not all of them missed you… some simply never saw you or you’re not good enough for the level.
When you play AAU, just remember coaches don’t care if you win or lose; they want to know how you played. They want to know if you fit their style and culture. But, there is one thing you better do and that is to play against real competition. Coaches don’t care how many points you score. They do care who you scored them against. D1 basketball is a dream for most. So, if that’s your dream, you must be prepared to work long and hard hours. There is no shortcut to D1 basketball.
Seniors and juniors the end of the world is not coming if you don’t have an offer. But don’t kid yourself, your back is up against the wall, and that you better understand. If I am scaring you…then good, go handle your business. Recruiting is different now for those NOT on the radar. It just got harder…so you better work a little harder and know it’s there for you, but you must be proactive…now it’s your training and development.
So here are a few things if you want to play D1 basketball
- If it’s your goal, go for it. There will be many who will discourage you from doing so.
- Be realistic and know your level of D1 basketball
- Live in the gym. If your going D1, that’s what you will be doing anyway
- Keep your recruiting private
- Take official and unofficial visits to campuses multiple times
- Attend elite camp
- SPEAK TO COLLEGE COACHES YOURSELF