How to Get a Coaching Job In College Basketball
Some lessons on how I made my jump from High School JV Coach to NCAA D2 assistant. The goal of this article is to help out others with the same goal.
There are countless coaches across the country who want to make the jump from high school coaching to the college level or who want to make the transition from playing at the college level to coaching at the college level. I am not a master coach nor a coaching guru, nor am I someone who would traditionally be considered credible enough to write this type of article. Take any given basketball coach and they will coach circles around me! I have zero career wins, zero All-Americans, zero final fours, zero state championships... so in this article I'm not claiming I'm a great, or even good coach. All I'm doing is sharing some lessons that I believe helped me jump from high school to college coaching in the hopes that this will help coaches with the same dream. I was in those shoes of having that dream of coaching college basketball one day, and others helped me achieve that. I wanted to make sure I do at least something to help other young coaches achieve that same goal.
My quick background: After graduating from college (I didn't play in college), I was able to make the jump from being a high school JV coach to NCAA D2 assistant. I worked very, very hard at it but also got very lucky. After a year of coaching at the college level, I decided to return to high school and not pursue college coaching, for now. It was the right move for me. With that in mind, here are a few lessons that I hope will help aspiring college coaches.
1) You don't control your journey but you do influence it:
I got my first job as an assistant at Flagler College because of John Shulman (Head Coach at Alabama Huntsville). He and I were having breakfast one day in Chattanooga, TN. While sitting there, Shulman got a phone call from Chad Warner of Flagler College. 3 minutes later, Shulman says, "I might have just gotten you an assistant job at Flagler College." Sure enough, he was right. In coaching, we need people who not only will help us, but who want to see us succeed. I am so lucky to know John Shulman because he not only helped me get my first job, but he wants to help me and others.
When Shulman received the news of the job opening and I was given the offer, I didn't control that situation. I was unfamiliar with Flagler, the Peach Belt Conference, D2 basketball, and so on. I did not control that situation but I did influence it. I had met Shulman through Jay Bilas's camp, which I signed up for and attended. By simply going to Bilas's camp and doing a decent job, I gained the respect of Shulman which was a great blessing.
On top of Bilas's camp, I attended 22 clinics, dozens of camps, and so on. And I still barely got any offers to coach college basketball. It is competitive especially for a guy like me who didn't play. But the lesson is this: attend as many clinics, practices, workouts, camps, and other events that you can. Develop genuine relationships and treat people right. Just influence outcomes, not control them.
2) Email as many college programs as necessary. There are going to be "no's".
As is the case with so many coaches, I can't tell you how many emails, letters, messages, and calls went unreturned. While I was pursuing college coaching, I made a 25 page analytics report for a college program reporting on their last 5 games. I spent probably 30 hours on that in just 4 days. I drove out to the campus of the university, introduced myself to the head coach, said I wanted a job, handed the report to the head coach, and left. I heard nothing back. I worked my tail off on it and it truly hurt to not even hear a compliment on the work. I would have liked to hear something at least! But my point is this: there are going to be many more no's than yes's. But, all it takes is one good "yes" for you to get that opportunity you want.
3) Create something valuable
When you reach out to a coaching staff about a job, don't just send your resume. Send work samples so that you can show what you're capabale of. Send whatever you have! It could be a player development plan (Email me at email@example.com if you want to see mine), an analytics report (email me for that too), motivational videos (email me for that if you want to see one I made), graphics, film breakdowns, scouting reports, recruiting connections, whatever you can think of! The key is to separate yourself with your work. Don't just talk about what you can do, show what you have done and can do.
4) Build recruiting relationships / make recruiting your number one priority and skill
Recruiting is the number one skill to have as a college coach. Well, maybe not the number one skill, but it's undoubtedly a priority. Before you even get your first college job, go ahead and build relationships with high school coaches, travel ball coaches, players, and so on. Do this by working camps, making drill books, or whatever you can do! Go ahead and create an email list and database of coaches whom you will contact about recruits.
No one is capable of achieving anything without the help of others. When I got my college coaching job, others helped me tremendously! I hope that this article, in a small way, helps you attain your goals. If I can do anything for you, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.