College coaches and their recruiting staff have done their homework on you. Now it’s time to return the favor. Before narrowing your choice of schools, use the following guidelines to determine where you fit best.
Location Two main things to consider: distance from home and weather. If you tend to get homesick, choosing a school on the opposite coast isn’t smart. Likewise, if you’re a beach bum, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula isn’t for you.
Academics Are you familiar with the admission requirements for the schools you like? Do those schools offer your major? If not, find out what colleges offer it and how their programs rank nationally. “I chose USC, because [my degree from there] would stand for itself,” says Los Angeles Sparks center Lisa Leslie.
Size/Student body This should be a huge factor when picking a school, as it affects everything from class size to getting around campus. Will you feel like a number in a lecture class of 500? Or do you want the personal attention that comes with smaller classes?
Housing It may have been cool to spend the weekend in a dorm during camp, but can you handle it for an entire school year? How about two years? Also, how close are on-campus residences to the places you need to be, such as the team’s athletic complex, your classes and the library?
Scholarship availability Not all college programs can offer full rides to every player on the roster. Are you willing to accept a partial scholarship? Don’t rule out the possibility of earning an academic scholarship, either.
Level of competition Be realistic when considering how much playing time you will get and when. If you want to play immediately, you might have to consider a smaller school. But if you’re willing to wait a year or two before playing in a primetime game with thousands of screaming fans, aim big.
Time commitment Playing college sports is time consuming. Just how time consuming is something you should think about. How long is the season? How much time will be spent traveling? Are you willing to devote most of your summers to training? And always remember, you’re in college to be a student first.
Coaching staff A coach might say just about anything to land you in his program. Ultimately, it comes down to whom you trust and feel comfortable around. Take into account coaching style and philosophy, and try to get to know the entire staff, from position coaches to strength coaches. “The biggest thing I saw from Ohio State was the type of person Coach Tressel was,” says New York Jets linebacker Vernon Gholston, a Michigan native who chose the Buckeyes.
Emphasis on academics Does coach value your education? “Coach [Dean] Smith made it a point that he knew who our teachers were,” says New Jersey Nets shooting guard and former North Carolina Tar Heel Vince Carter. “He knew our teachers—just like he expected us to know them.” Also, check to see if team tutors and study sessions are available.
Facilities You’ll spend plenty of time in the school’s stadium, arena, weight room and trainer’s room. Are state-of-the-art facilities important to you, or will it fire you up to lift in the same gym as the team’s legends?
The Team You’ll be spending the bulk of your college days with these guys. Do you see yourself fitting in? “I loved my teammates…Those guys taught me how to be a better basketball player…a better man,” says Golden State Warriors forward and Gonzaga grad Ronny Turiaf.
Do you share common bonds with other players on the team, such as the same major or classes? Are any players on the team from your home town or region?
Interview With Nicole Edwards
Getting Attention from College Coaches
2009 Key Recruiting Checklist
Bob Sanders’ Recruiting Experience
Financial Aid 411
Communicating With a Coach
Gauging A Coach’s Interest
Official College Visits
Key NCAA Rules & Regs
NCAA Initial Eligibility Center