While the sports are similar in the chase for a scholarship, the one major difference is AAU. Football camps cannot compare to the fact that top basketball players spend a good portion of July on the road playing in tournaments. And in order to get a major Division I scholarship, I feel that they basically have to do this. Find out what is included in the top five now.
1.) Playing for an AAU team that travels nationally
Here is what a current Division I basketball head coach said about the recruiting process: “If you’re in the AAU program and you’ve got a decent team, then the summertime is when you’ve got a chance go make a name for yourself. You can’t hunt bear in the lodge, so kids have got to go out there at these tournaments and give us a chance to evaluate them.” Playing on an AAU team that travels the country in tournaments is the #1 factor in getting a Division I basketball offer. I have seen numerous kids get scholarships simply because they played on a good AAU team. They had to play well at the right times but this certainly beats sitting at home working out with your teammates. With basketball, I cannot stress the importance of getting on the AAU circuit.
Unlike football, skills and abilities does trump size for college basketball. That is the reason why you will occasionally see a 5-foot-6 point guard or a 6-foot-6 center at the Division I level. They just have more abilities as well as a knack for playing beyond their size. The skill level of basketball players needs to be high and that is why there will be some smaller players on the court. It is because they have some abilities and know how to play the game.
College coaches will take chances with projects but they want players who can contribute early and often. Most of these coaches know that if they recruit the wrong players, it will likely cost them their job. That is why a project is much harder for a basketball coach to take versus a football coach. These basketball coaches are limited in the amount of scholarships that they have every year so they have to be careful. Taking too many projects that don’t pan out could easily get you fired.
4.) Work Ethic
There is no doubt that being a gym rat definitely can help you in the chase for a scholarship. But if you are not big enough, don’t play for a good AAU team, and lack the ability, it doesn’t matter if you workout twelve hours a day. God-given talent will trump work ethic at times in the chase for a scholarship. It sucks but it is true.
I hate to say that this is last on the list but it seems academics and character are even less important at the Division I level in hoops. Obviously you want the #1 player in the country to have fantastic grades and strong character (see Harrison Barnes) but it doesn’t always happen that way. The other areas are more important. However, having good grades and strong character can open the door for more opportunities if you find the right situation.