Recruitment is a hard and demanding process for both players and coaches. We already discussed how to streamline this process from a coaches perspective. It can be even more scary for players who have spent most of their childhood working towards a goal of playing basketball at a higher level. Moreover, these players usually leave their home if they get recruited, so there are multiple factors they need to take care of when they are being recruited. Therefore, it is very important for athletes to follow the right process of preparation as emphasizing on the wrong things could result in getting zero offers. As a former player out of Serbia, I went through this process successfully and ended up playing in Vermont, USA, and Memorial University. I am going to share some tips and tricks that worked for me, and hopefully will for you too!
First and foremost, the preparation for this process starts long before you send your highlight video to anyone. You need to focus on your grades during your high school years as they will in the long run give you more chance to be recruited. Even though the recent trend of “one and done” has decreased the value of education for student athletes, it is underestimated how much value coaches put on your grades when recruiting. They show how determined you are to succeed both on and off the court, and are an indicator of how coachable you are. Higher levels of basketball resemble chess in a lot of ways, so players need to have a certain dose of intelligence in order to be effective. There is a lot of talent out there, but players who are comfortable in the classroom as well as the basketball court are quite rare, so good grades might open you some opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Most college athletes have to maintain a certain academic standard to be eligible, so by getting used to studying early, it will be easier for you to adjust to a life of a student athlete.
Okay, let’s talk basketball now. If you want to pursue a college career, you need to start preparing a year or two before you are actually being recruited. Assess your position in your current team and see if your role is big enough for you to really showcase your talents. It doesn’t matter if you are playing for one of the top teams if the competition around you doesn’t allow you to stand out. Your next step is to film your games as much as possible to get an abundance of material for your highlight video. Be sure to have someone film the whole game, even if you are on the bench, as coaches like to see your impact on the game, not only your best moves. That being said, coaches look through hundreds of highlight videos when in the process of recruiting and often don’t have time to watch the whole thing. That’s why you should put your best highlights that really define you as a player at the beginning of the video, as it will help you get noticed. The video should also show how good of a team player you are. If your highlight is just you jacking up threes for 5 minutes, coaches won’t know how good you are in other areas of the game such as defense or passing. You should post your video on YouTube as it is the most convenient for coaches to just click on the link. In your highlight, you should put your height, weight and position at the beginning. It isn’t a bad idea to do some good editing as well and put arrows or circles around you at the beginning of each play so coaches know where to look when watching. See the video below for a general idea of how it should look. No, I’m not narcistic. I’m just trying to show you what works 🙂
So, your video is posted. Big whoop. Nobody is going to just randomly search your name on YouTube and recruit you (unless you are Zion or LaMelo, in which case you don’t need to read this article). You need to get outside of your comfort zone and send e-mails to coaches of schools you wish to play for. Before that, you need to be realistic with yourself and assess what level of basketball is best suited for your talents. You should do some research of teams to see where you would best fit. For example, if you are a guard and the team already has 6 guards who are older than you, maybe it would be better for you to look for an opportunity somewhere else. Don’t be afraid to follow up on your e-mail, as coaches get a lot of them, especially during the recruitment period. If you get a chance for a phone call or a visit with the coach, behave in a professional manner and don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything you are unclear about. That will tell the coach that you are fully invested into joining their program.
Combining all these factors will give you the best chance of being recruited. You need to approach all of them seriously as if you are applying for a job, and show yourself as an ambitious young adult who is ready to represent both on and off the court. By appealing to what coaches want to see in the highlight and the interview, you give yourself the best chance to secure a spot in an university team. Go get them!