Basketball Recruitment Advice for Parents: 3 Important Points to Consider

Mason Waters is a boy's basketball coach at South Forsyth High School after spending a year coaching at the NCAA level at Flagler College. 

Witnessing your child earn a college basketball scholarship is an incredible achievement and a great blessing to many families. The opportunity for a basketball player to get their education paid for while competing on the hardwood is hard to compare.

The college basketball experience can be incredible, even life-changing. But it can also be a disappointing experience. In order for a family to maximize the odds that a child has an incredible college basketball experience, there are some pieces of wisdom that need to be considered. In this article, I am writing to the majority of college basketball recruits and families who will not be professional basketball players, but who are rather focused on choosing a great place to play. Let me offer parents three important points to consider regarding their child’s college basketball dreams.

(1) There are amazing basketball programs at various levels that can be a great experience for your child. The level at which your child plays has little to do with the quality of their college basketball experience. A common misconception among youth basketball players and some parents is that a kid will be happier and have a greater experience at the highest levels of college basketball. The quality of a college basketball experience is not primarily determined by the level of play but rather by the opportunity to compete and play a lot of minutes, to play for a coaching staff whom players respect and love, the memories of practice, road trips, and training sessions, and the opportunity to win a lot of games because winning is fun! There are happy and miserable players playing NCAA Division One and there are happy and miserable players at other levels. Level might influence the quality of a college basketball experience to some extent, but it’s not a primary factor.

Of course it’s acceptable for a youth player to aim for the highest levels of which they are capable, but this doesn’t mean that playing at non-NCAA Division One levels are not to be respected or considered. There are countless amazing college basketball opportunities at several levels that aren’t NCAA D1.

2. In your child’s recruitment, talk to a programs former players to learn about the program and staff. If you want to know about a program or coaching staff in the best way possible, ask multiple former players. They’ll let you know the truth. If and when they give an overwhelmingly positive review, you can move that school or coach up your list or simply increase your level of respect for them. More than that, they might give you and your child some valuable wisdom that can only come from a former college athlete.

You can find former players by going on the teams website and old rosters. From there, find those guys or girls on social media and contact them. Or, a current player might be able to connect you.

When talking to former players try to get the opinion of at least 3 players. This way you won’t form a wrong opinion of a staff or program based off one sour player and you won’t form too positive of an opinion based off a kid who had happened to have the best possible experience. Every coach has players that absolutely love them and every coach has players who may not be their biggest fan. This is simply a byproduct of coaches being in leadership positions. But, like anything, it’s good to get multiple perspectives when possible.

Here are three questions you can ask former players:

  1. Was the coach honest during your recruitment?
  2. Did you enjoy playing here? Why or why not?
  3. If I decide to play here, what can I do to nurture my relationship with the coaches?

3. Don’t be overly concerned with your child’s recruitment in their early high school career and try not to compare to other players’ recruitment.

One of the tradeoffs in publicizing very talented players recruitment is that some families get concerned for their child when they aren’t receiving any interest in 9th, 10th, or even 11th grade. We see “big-time” recruits on tv or social media with “interests and offers” in 9th or 10th grade (which, sometimes, these posts may not be entirely truthful).

Although there are a number of players who get recruited beginning in 9th or 10th grade, the reality is that a majority of high school basketball players who go on to play in college will not get seriously evaluated or looked at by a college staff until the summer between 10th and 11th grade. Other times, a player might not get seriously recruited until their junior or senior seasons. That’s ok!

The problem is that kids nor families ever post to social media, “My child is in 10th grade and hasn’t gotten a single look from a college! #blessed”. Neither do kids post an “interest and offers” tweet with a logoless, blank white photo.

Please understand that plenty of college players don’t get recruited until their 11th or 12th grade seasons and still end up with an incredible college basketball experience.

If you are interested in learning more about how you and your family can best navigate your child’s college basketball recruitment, I wrote a 62-page book called “Recruited in Basketball: The Go-To Guide on earning and choosing the best college basketball scholarship”. For more info on this book, please click HERE or tap on the photo below.

You can also learn more about Mason Waters HERE and follow him on twitter HERE.

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