College Basketball Recruiting: An Inside look
By Mike Zito
Recruiting: everyone wants to be recruited by “major programs”. Everyone feels that they’re a scholarship level player. Sometimes the reality of recruiting hits you hard. Those scholarship schools are not coming to your games or contacting you on a regular basis. My question is can you accept what levels are showing the most interest in you? My answer to all of you is YES!!
As a college coach the past 5 years at the Division III (DIII) level my main responsibility is to recruit the next class of players for our program. I had to know who was who in many different regions of many different states. Not only did I have to know if you’re a good player, I had to know IF you are a good student, a good teammate, a good person and one who is going to make the right decisions when no one is watching. You may be a really talented basketball player but the reality is if you can’t check off 95% of the other boxes you are limiting yourself TREMENDOUSLY!
I had to cast a wide net at first in order to get a good crop of players in the end. As a DIII assistant you do the job because you love it. In no way are any of the young aspiring coaches doing it for the money. I had three jobs on top of the “part-time” coaching job. That “part-time” job was 70 hours week. As an assistant coach you do it because you love it, not for the notoriety.
Every DIII assistant makes more sacrifices then you will ever know: They sacrifice family time, they sacrifice leisure time with a significant other, they sacrifice a normal lifestyle and they sacrifice countless hours on 3 hour car rides. Those 3 hours car rides that they go to watch you play for 1 GAME just to drive back 3 hours. They wake up, get emails out, get texts sent, go to their other jobs, get to the office after their jobs to do a scouting report and practice plan, then they miss practice to get on the road to see YOU play or practice. Then they get back in the car, they get back to the office to finish the scouting report, then they get home and go to bed. WASH, RINSE, REPEAT. The daily lifestyle of the assistants.
With that said my piece of advice is to never ever say no to a school, especially early in the process. Don’t brush off a coach like they don’t matter or that you think you’re too good. This is very important in your recruitment. The “daily cycle” of an assistant that I laid out above is hard, and they continue to go through it to see you. That means they are genuinely looking at you as more than a player. They are looking at you as a student, young man or woman, who they want to have succeed on the court, in the classroom and life after college as a professional! They make sacrifices to see you and continually do so. The level of school shouldn’t be the end goal for you as a player. Don’t be that player that chases that and ends up not being happy. What happens when you’re not happy at your college that you chose based off of level? You transfer to a new school. Just take a minute and think back to all the “small schools” you brushed off originally. Did you leave that relationship in a good state? Did you make sure you told them thanks for recruiting you? Did you make sure they knew that you appreciated everything? If you didn’t, your transfer options may have shrunk a little.
Throughout the process of being recruited you should take a look at who has been the most genuine, most consistent and most sincere in showing interest in you. Don’t sacrifice the “level” for your overall college experience. Choose the school that gives you the best fit as a student first, then as an athlete.
My sign off statement: Other people will have their opinion on what level you should choose. Don’t let them tell you where to go. You’re the one who may become unhappy and have to find a new school. YOU choose the school that makes YOU happy and that YOU want to go to. YOU’RE the one who matters the most!