With the Division I basketball recruiting period winding down, I thought it important to give next year’s seniors some information to keep in mind.
I have been very fortunate to have coached some outstanding players over the years. A few were heavily recruited by D-I schools from all over the country. Some were even top-50 programs.
I’ve always felt that Maine high school players who want to be Division I impact players by their sophomore year of college need to go to prep school.
It’s even more important today, because competition for scholarships at the D-l level is so intense and favors the more athletic players.
Prep school gives players another year to develop physically, mentally, emotionally and skill-wise. It also can tell players where they belong based on which level of the 351 D-I schools recruit them most.
If players can’t get a prep school scholarship, they probably aren’t D-I prospects.
Players offered scholarships should make sure the college they choose has the educational program they want.
Vetting the coaching staff is next.
There were many negatives and few positives in my experience with the D-I recruiting process.
Recruiters usually look first for athleticism, basketball skills, academic ability and character — in that order. It should be done in the reverse order.
Recruiters can be like salesmen with a vested interest.
Scholarships are guaranteed for one year only and some players are evaluated at the end of each season to see if their scholarship will be renewed.
In my experience, recruiters were not in favor of prep school, because they could lose the recruit to another college. Some dumped on schools they knew also where recruiting my players. This is a real turn-off and a no-no.
Some made promises they shouldn’t have.
Redshirting, or being held out of competition for a year to help a player make the adjustment to Division I, wasn’t mentioned. Players have five years during which to play four seasons.
Some recruiters said, “If you don’t choose us, don’t go to a school in our conference.”
Coaching changes usually occur after the season and recruiting is usually completed and when coaches change D-I jobs, they can coach immediately. If a player chooses to transfer to the school his coach moved to, he has to sit out a year because of NCAA rules.
But incoming freshmen recruited by departing coaches usually can be released from their National Letter of Intent prior to enrolling in school.
When a new coach is hired, returning players do not know how, or if, they fit into the coach’s plans. Remember, scholarships have to be renewed yearly.
And if a player redshirts a year and then transfers to another D-I school, he or she loses a year of eligibility.
This is a good time for recruited high school seniors who have not signed to reconsider prep school so they can get a new head start in the recruiting process.
The only time players and parents are in control of the recruiting process is before the NLI is signed.
Maine high school players being recruited by D-I schools should feel they are really, really wanted. They should be told by their high school coaches and advisers that it would be in their best interest to go to prep school for the reasons I have previously mentioned.
Realizing they might later chose another school, the recruits should be told the coaches would be disappointed, but would understand. However, there would be a scholarship available if they ever wanted to transfer.
Maine players’ parents should know their players’ best interest is being considered first, before anything else, because returning players at the Division I level are only as good as next year’s recruiting class.
D-I is big business. Just follow the money.
Best example: Scholarships used to be four years, now they are only guaranteed for one. That sure isn’t in the best interest of the player, is it?
Last week’s trivia question: What college player was the first to score a 100 points in a single game?
Answer: 7-footer Bevo Francis of Rio Grande College in Ohio in the 1950’s.
Maine’s Basketball Commissioner Peter Webb was the first to provide the correct answer.