I’m sure it seems like just yesterday you were traveling all over the country for AAU tournaments, camps and showcases during the July “live” period. Hopefully, you took advantage of the opportunities to catch the eye of college coaches who attended those events. Now that you are back in school, it’s important to understand what is happening from a recruiting perspective at each college level, and the proactive actions you should take to assure that you are a future recruit.
Recruiting Reality Check
For high school seniors, early fall is the time for a recruiting reality check. The word “potential” is slowly creeping out of the equation as you find out which colleges are interested in you. You begin to get a real sense of whether you will continue to play in college and at what level.
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If you are an NCAA Division I prospect, you will definitely know it by now. College coaches should be texting, calling and emailing you to come on campus for official visits. In most cases, they should have already offered you a scholarship and are prompting you to sign your acceptance during the early period (Nov. 12-19).
If this is not happening, the question is always: “Can I play my way into a Division I scholarship”? The answer is yes, but you need to work hard on your game for the next six weeks. There is still time to get recruited at this level, and still time to improve your game before the season begins.
Russell Westbrook was in this situation. He started to get noticed by college coaches late in the summer club season, and because he blew up early in his senior season, he was able to parlay that success into a scholarship at UCLA. The rest is history.
It is important that you play well in open gyms, fall leagues and showcases. College coaches either see these firsthand or hear from others about who is playing well. During this time of year, they are building back-up lists of recruits, in case the players to whom they have offered scholarships decide not to attend their school.
Division II and NAIA
NCAA Division II and NAIA prospects who are getting some Division I interest might already have scholarship offers from lower level schools (learn more about NCAA scholarships). Coaches love to steal talent that is above their school’s playing ability. They hope that by offering early, the hot pursuit by their schools will counter the fact that they are not Division I programs. Being wanted is an important part of the selection process and should not be overlooked in your decision.
The reality at the Division II and NAIA level is that these schools have the luxury of taking Division I and junior college transfers, and these players are eligible to participate immediately. Their ability to bring in a 20-year-old transfer who is more college-ready than an 18-year-old high school player often delays the process for graduating seniors. What this means is that colleges at this level are more likely to wait until the spring to decide how they will allocate their athletic scholarship money.
If you fall into this category, it is essential that you have an outstanding senior season. Schools will closely monitor your performance, and based upon your productivity, they will decide whether to have you visit in the spring or participate in “prospect” days at that time.
At the Division III level, the recruiting calendar is much different. Colleges should be actively trying to get you on campus for either elite camps, unofficial visits or even official overnight stays. The biggest difference in the process at the D-III level is the role that academics and admissions play in the process.
Many of these schools have an early decision admissions option that lets you know in late fall whether you have been admitted and the level of financial aid you will receive. It is important to note that this option is a legally binding agreement that commits you to attend that school. College coaches will notify their recruits of this option, since this is the only way they can get a prospect to officially commit in the fall.
D-III colleges do not offer athletic scholarships, so players do not sign letters of intent in the fall. Most players submit regular decision applications to schools, which usually have a January deadline for receipt. Under this scenario, recruits do not learn their admission status until late spring. Admissions uncertainty makes the process more difficult for everyone at the D-III level. That’s why D-III coaches work with a larger number of recruits than coaches at higher college levels. Given that there may be more recruits admitted than roster spots available, coaches look to a successful high school season as the determining factor in their decision.
The bottom line is that even though it is already fall of your senior year, there is still plenty of time to start being recruited and increase your standing from one college level to the next.
Three important actions you need to take immediately
1. Know the realistic level you can play at in college. A good barometer of your playing level is the caliber of colleges that have contacted you. If you are not being recruited by anyone, ask your coach for his/her honest assessment. Finally, you can click on this link for access to the BeastMeter App and it will project your college playing level.
2. Be proactive about your recruitment. Colleges cannot recruit you if they do not know you exist. Identify 10 schools that are at your playing level and are good fits for you academically. Send them an intro email and follow up by telephone. Staying focused in your approach is important.
3. Work on your game every day. The only way to assure that you have a successful senior season is to practice, practice, and practice some more. Repetition builds consistency, and consistency leads to success.
If you are taking action on these three items, your recruitment will start falling into place over the next few months. Remember that the recruiting calendar is different for every prospect, so don’t stress—just allow the process to work itself out for you.
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