By Cole Schreiner- Northland College
It seems that all high school student-athletes want to play at the next level. Over the last couple of years of coaching college basketball, there are a few things I’ve noticed about the recruiting process.
This seems like a pretty obvious thing, but there are many different ways for players to get noticed. Outside of playing well during the high school season and playing with a good AAU program, there are many other ways to get noticed that I don’t think are utilized to the full potentials. Coaches will usually send out questionnaires once the high school season is over, I’d suggest filling those out and sending them back, just so the coaches know you are interested and will pursue you more. Don’t sweat it if you don’t receive a questionnaire, most schools have online questionnaires you can fill out on their athletic websites. Both of those are good steps for student-athletes looking to play at the next level. If none of the above have worked for you yet don’t give up, there is still hope! Attending showcases can be another way to help gain attention from college coaches, but it’s important that you do your research on the showcases before investing time and resources. Make sure it’s put on by reliable sources and that college coaches will actually be in attendance. A lot of times at showcases there will be one or two coaches in the stands, that’s not going to help you gain much exposure. Lastly, I think emailing coaches can help to a certain extent but make sure you attach contact information to the email.
The best advice I was ever given was, “Don’t leave any rock unturned.” Learn as much as you can before cutting a school from your list of options. Ask the coaches questions, it makes the conversation so much more interesting if you ask something. I know we throw a lot of information at you, but try to have at least one question (or even a fun fact) ready to go for us. Don’t just tell coaches you want to come there and work hard for them, show them that you actually know something about the college or university itself. What’s the point of talking to a coach for months if at the end of the day they don’t even have your major? This also goes for when you decide to start narrowing your list of schools down. There is good basketball at every level, so don’t tell a school “no” just because they can’t offer you a scholarship. Trust me, coaches realize that financial reasonings are going to be a big deciding factor for you, it’s that way for 99% of families out there. Make sure you pick a place for the right reasons, kids transfer all the time. That’s fine, but pick a school that you know you’ll be happy at.
As coaches, it’s our jobs to do research on you and know what kind of person, student, and athlete you are. If we are talking to you, you don’t have to try and impress us. We already know we want you to be a part of our program. Don’t wear the “cool jacket” around coaches and try to upsell yourself to us saying you have an offer from this school and saying another school is ready to offer. For me, being a coach at a NCAA Division III college, that turns me away more than makes me want to keep recruiting you. We know, for the most part, who is recruiting you and who isn’t. I think that wearing the “cool jacket” hurts kids when they should be trying to form relationships with the coaches. There’s nothing I love more than going to watch a kid play and him being excited to see me afterwards and being engaged with our conversations. It’s also a good idea to stay in contact with the coaches recruiting you. Send them texts if something exciting happens with you or check in on how their season is going. To me that just proves even more that the kid wants to be a part of your program.
This kind of goes off the “Form Relationships” topic, but most of the time coaches assume if you’re pretty quiet that you just aren’t interested in the school. I can handle a kid saying no to me and choosing another school, but what annoys me is when student-athletes don’t do all the research and instead of saying, “I’m sorry, I’m just not interested in your school,” (or whatever the case may be for you not choosing to attend that school) they give you an excuse about us not having your major (when we actually do). If we’re not the school for you, that’s fine. It is part of our jobs, so be honest with us. Coaches know that most student-athletes are great kids with a lot going on, but keep in mind that coaches spend a lot of their time and effort trying to recruit you, so always try to keep the lines of communication open and honest.
At the end of the day, if there is a school that you really want to get recruited by, do something to stand out to them. Don’t just sit back and wait for them to contact you, take some of this advice and get the process started.