By Anthony Medina ’12
Head Men’s Basketball Coach – University of St. Thomas
The NCAA and NAIA basketball recruiting process includes spring and summer tournaments where student athletes can showcase their talent in front of college coaches. The path to making an NCAA or NAIA team is an arduous one, and students and parents need to prepare for the college recruiting process.
As the high school basketball season comes to a close, players and families from all over the country pack up and travel to spring and summer basketball tournaments nationwide. Being recruited by a college team is not as simple as showing up, being seen, and signing a letter of intent. Your academic standing, current skill level, ability to promote yourself, and effective use of basketball events is all a part of the process.
Here are a few things to consider when preparing for the spring and summer tournament circuit.
Academics: College Recruiters Want Student Athletes, Not Just Basketball Players
This category is by far the most important. No matter how good a basketball player you are, you have to take care of business in the classroom to qualify to play. The NCAA and NAIA have strict requirements for incoming freshmen and transfer student athletes to be eligible. Meeting the minimum requirements means you will have the chance to play, but standing out academically could qualify you for academic scholarships.
Each year, there are more players recruited for non-athletic scholarships than there are for full athletic scholarship. There are thousands of college basketball doors out there—a strong GPA and test score could be the key to opening one of them.
Skill Development: Want to Get Recruited? Show You’re Able to Grow as a Player
Once your academics are in line, the more obvious piece of the puzzle comes into play: How good are you?
When developing yourself as a player, it is important to be well rounded on the offense and defensive end. If you are in the gym working on your game, spend time developing every skill set, not just the conventional skills for your desired position. If you are a forward that can handle the ball and shoot with range or a guard that can post up and rebound you will have more value. Players that serve a purpose are nice to have, but players without limitations are special.
Self-Promotion and Marketing: Make a Case for Yourself
As technology becomes more advanced and readily available, there is no excuse not to market yourself to college coaches. Put together an email that includes your high school transcript, SAT or ACT test scores, a short highlight film, and general information about yourself. The snapshot of who you are can be spread quickly via email, social media, and recruiting websites. This will serve as an introduction to coaches and allow you to put your best foot forward to gain interest.
College coaches do not blindly walk into spring and summer tournaments looking for players. If you reach out and gain interest early coaches will come see you. Half of the battle is getting them to see you play, the other half is proving you are good enough to help them WIN.
AAU and High School Basketball Tournaments: Showcase Yourself to College Coaches
Spring and summer basketball, also known as AAU, has become a great tool for coaches to recruit. These events give coaches the opportunity to evaluate multiple players they are interested in potentially pursuing. Despite popular opinion, there are very few coaches who are concerned with how many points you score in a game. Your attitude and effort are much more important! If you are not a competitor, have a bad attitude, are not a good teammate, or do not play hard you will likely not get recruited at the level you hope; regardless of your athleticism or skill set. If you do these things well, coaches will begin to evaluate your physical ability to compete at their level, your current skill set, and your potential to develop in both categories in the coming years.
Before You Commit to an NCAA Team, Weigh All the Factors
Once you begin to gain interest, always remember that there are more factors to your decision than just basketball. Take your time looking into the university, just as the coaches took their time to carefully evaluate you. Be sure the institution will challenge you academically, provide the major you wish to study, and help you find a job after you graduate. Take a visit and see the city the university is in, get to know the social dynamics on campus, and ask yourself if this is a place you would want to live for the next four or five years.
Being recruited to play college athletics is an incredibly difficult thing for the average high school student athlete. Differentiating yourself from the thousands of other athletes in your sport requires a great deal of time and preparation in yourself and the process.
There are a lot of layers to being recruited by an NCAA team and these are just a few of them. If you do the work, you could give yourself the opportunity to be recruited and be a part of something special.
If you’re a student athlete, contact us to let us know you’re interesting in being recruited by the University of St. Thomas in Houston.
Anthony Medina is the head men’s basketball coach at University of St. Thomas, and he is a former star UST Celt player. Originally from El Paso, Texas, Medina played his high school basketball at The Woodlands High School before joining the UST men’s basketball team in its inaugural year. He graduated in 2012 from UST with a BA in English and returned as head coach in 2015.