With the close of March Madness 2012 I believe it’s important to bring back down to earth the wants and desires of today’s American youth. Some of you may say I’m cynical, you might call me pessimistic–I like to call it being realistic regarding one’s options of playing any sport at the highest level. For most, it’s likely not to happen.
A Late Start
Every year around this time we see an astounding and sometimes overwhelming interest from student-athletes wanting to play Division 1 basketball. Even more baffling is that much of this interest is coming from seniors in high school who are looking to START THEIR RECRUITING! Unfortunately for most of them, even Division 3 would likely be a long shot at this point.
Understand the Process
Why a long shot? The signing period for Division 1 and 2 basketball starts April 11th–next week–and ends May 16th. Not signing within those dates means Walking-On or playing at a lower level.
Most basketball coaches at the Division 1 and some at the Division 2 level start their recruiting 2 to 3 even 4 years ahead of graduating classes. Technically recruiting for basketball players can start as early as 8th grade!
What is the Right Level for You?
Ideally, as a potential college recruit, you should understand what level you are realistically capable of playing in and understand the recruiting cycle for that division or sport. Yes, this particular article leans more toward division 1 basketball given the time of year but we see these trends with every sport.
Learn Where Your Skill Level Fits
The best advice I can give for this situation is to have a clear understanding of where your skills can realistically take you with regards to a collegiate sport. This isn’t something that is thought of in one day or one week.
Instead, you find this through thorough research about the institution, program, coaching staff and style, current team members, and past recruiting classes. You also learn about your skill level by actively attending camps, speaking with coaches (high school, club, and college) and self evaluation.
Cast a Large Net
It is being dedicated to and understanding this process that keeps you from overshooting your best target area. Many student-athletes are passed over every year because their efforts are focused on levels they will never achieve while levels more suited to their playing ability are never explored; eventually those roster spots will fill. Initially, make sure to cast a large net so that you aren’t being passed over by a school you never thought to check out.
Avoid This Trap
Use the mistakes of others as lessons on what not do with regards to your own recruiting process. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re good enough to be found, that your coaches are going to do your recruiting for you, or that it’s ok to wait until your senior year and still think you’ve got a chance to play at a high level or any level of college sports.