I figured this would be a good time to write again about the recruiting process which starts up very shortly for rising HS players. This is a blog I wrote about two years ago. I think it still might be relevant. Also because the season is over, I will post less than usual. Please sign up to follow my blog on the leftside top to see when I post. Thanks
Well it seems recruiting has changed alot since many of us attended HS. At that time college recruiters visited high schools to observe kids play the game they loved. Now it seems the majority of recruitment takes place prior to a kids senior year in HS. It starts as far back as when kids are in JHS. Yes that's right, JHS!!! We know the high schools are really recruiting 8th graders, especially the private and catholic schools. But now we see more and more college guys watching and actually following JHS kids. Ask Lance Thomas about this.
Years ago the HS Coach was the guy coordinating the recruitment process for local kids with good basketball ability. That's still the case at the better programs. Gary DeCaeser, the ex Associate Coach at DePaul, ran his program and did not allow outsiders to participate. He would even make kids and parents sign a form saying as much! If a kid violated the contract/form, they would be suspended and even dismissed from the team. Harsh, but necessary according to Gary!!! Gary wanted to make sure his players were aware of what each college was offering and he knew the BS folks from the good guys. He also had the experience. I cannot remember Gary having one star player attend a JUCO because of poor grades. He was on top of everything his players were involved in. He even started an AAU Program so he could keep his players close. Gary did this for ALL his players including those who he assisted in getting into good D3 programs. Other programs with similar clout with their players are: St. Benedict's, St. Anthony's, St. Patrick's, Mount Vernon, Lincoln (NY), Cardoza (NY), Kennedy (NY), Jefferson, Rice, CBA, Bloomfield Tech, Eastside (Newark) and a few others I can not think of at this time. Oddly these programs win year in and year out! Guess they are doing something right. Plus, kids at these places seem to always have grades for D1 sports.
Now I do think having Rec and AAU programs involved with kids is also a good thing. That's because alot of schools have coaches who just do not care, nor do they put in the time. They simply coach just for the stipend. Kids on those teams (they are not programs) deserve better than what they receive. But the system in place might say the coach must be a HS Teacher at that school or in that system. Thus the need for good people such as Jim Solmon (Playaz), Gary Charles (Panthers), New Heights Guys, Metro Hawks, Gauchos, Brian Crawford (Rams), Rich Leary (Best trainer in NJ or NY), NJ Warriors, NJ All stars, Dyckeman (NYC) Westchester Hawks, LI Lightening, and many others. These guys assist more than people realize. They especially help the kids from programs with inexperienced Coaches.
Recruitment is really about exposure, recognition, and marketing. Something the group mentioned above does on a regular basis. They call schools for kids, send clippings and tapes, and even have exposure days for college coaches. Cardoza HS did it this year and I remembered Rich Leary doing it all the time many years ago.
Because of all the local and national tournaments kids get exposure earlier than ever before. But the coaches only come out to the better events. That old saying "if you can play they will see you" is bogus. I have seen good players on bad AAU teams play on court 4 at a tournament with NO COACH EVEN WATCHING!! Than I have seen average players on good AAU Teams play on the next court and 55 D1 coaches are watching. The average kid gets the CAA Conference Offer and the good kid goes to a D3 school. Or if he is lucky he goes to Ed Butlers event in New Jersey and gets a JUCO or D2 offer.
As you can see this recruitment thing is serious business. Some schools have $250,000recruitment budgets! You should see the literature and hi-light recruitment tapes. You would think Spike Lee or Martin Scarcese (sp) directed them. Its huge business, especially with the sneaker company involvement. It could be the last time a kid and his family are wined and dined! That's why many parents and advisors drag the process out. They love the attention! Ask Jarid Famous about this lol. Advisors also love the attention and recognition. Sitting with coaches, getting calls, and even thinking you will join a particular staff in the near future. I know a kid who was being recruited by a certain BE team with a great guy as the HC. The HC told the HS Coach "I need a guy like you with me the way you teach and coach." The rest of the year that coach thought he was on the way to that school when an opening developed. He pushed the kid to sign at the school. And after the kid signed, the high school coach never heard back. An opening did come through, and the HS Coach called. He was told they needed a guy with NYC connections LOLOL.
Allow me to just provide a few things you should know:
A letter from a college is not a scholarship offer
Most large programs have a clerical staff sending out letters on Mail Merge making them more personalized. They have state of the art equipment!!
98% of Assistant Coaches can not offer a kid a scholarship without the Head Coach seeing the kid play. Lazy Head Coaches allow this however.
A kid should not sign UNLESS the Head Coach visits him and sees him play. That way no one is surprised!
Kids who wish to work in certain areas or parts of this country should attend school on that coast. Exceptions are IVY League, Stanford, Northwestern, Tier 1 Big Ten, etc.
Sometimes advisors live through players and where they sign. Its the reason kids might choose the largest school recruiting them.
Better to commit in fall and sign in spring. That way if a coach changes or gets fired the kid will have options
Always look at graduation rates as well as job placement statistics. I really do not understand folks celebrating a kid taking a job he could have gotten without a college degree. Still remember a great PG from a BE team working as a security guard at a community center in Brooklyn and he had a degree. Just could not find employment.
Always visit the campus before deciding. Unofficial's are great, but sleeping overnight give you more insight.
Go to an interested school un-announced!! Sneak by to get a true feeling. Remember alot of stuff is staged on visits. Some places have special parties, the team eats out in a great restaurant, etc.
Do not get fooled by huge arenas 2000 miles from your home. Nothing like playing in front of 647 in a 12,000 seat old arena that smells like popcorn.
Would it be better to go to a strong D2 school with a huge following and great academics or a D1 school with a poor graduation rate that plays in front of 450 people a game. A good example is Gannon College that seems to always sell out. Good academic school way on the other side of NYS.
Choose a school you would like even if you did not play basketball. That way you are covered and will have a life in addition to basketball.