Basketball Recruiting Explained Part 1: First Encounter


I was challenged to do a series explaining the ins and outs of how basketball recruiting works. How does a University hear about a player? When do they make first contact? How is the offer made? And more questions that surrond recruiting.

The short answer is, I don’t know, BUT I know people that do. I talked with a couple high school recruits from various levels of skill and recruiting stages, talked with a D-1 basketball coach, and a high school coach (from a school that has seen many college basketball players).  I told them all going into this that I would keep anonymity. Therefore, hence forth they will be referred to as “high school player/recruit”, “D-1 coach”, and “high school coach”.

I decided to break it up into different parts and will consciously watch the word count of each article as to not over do it in one piece, and essentially this will be an evolving series. I also hope to hear back from you, the fan, with other questions or comments about this series too.

How does the recruiting process get started?

The process can get started in various ways. The most common way is that a Coach hears about a recruit whether from other coaches, family members, high school coaches they trust, twitter, major recruiting websites, etc. There are various ways a coach can hear about a recruit.

The D1 coach spoke about how he most often hears about a player:

"Probably word of mouth.  If a kid is a high-profile kid, then someone has talked about or people have been talking about him and you just catch wind of it."

A lot of times high profile players come from the same areas or even from the same schools. Thus, coaches know which areas to keep an eye on. This varies from West Coast to East Coast but there are definitely hot beds of recruiting when it comes to basketball.

However, there are other recruits that fly under the radar. They may be just as talented as the players being talked about but aren’t being talked about. Say recruit X lives in Orting, WA, not known for high D-1 talent but recruit X is talented and not being recruited. This is the type of player many D1 programs are looking for.

While a lot of coaches will recruit the talked about players, most D1 programs are looking for the under the radar player. The player they can get in on first and maybe sway him to sign to their program early.

D1 coach said this is important to him and his program:

"“But for us, when you need to find recruits that fly under the radar or that have potential that hasn’t really been reached yet. Having eyes in different places that are looking out for you is important. Having people that understand your program and what you’re looking for helps when you’re looking for players.”"

It is important for these coaches to have eyes all over the nation that can keep eyes on box scores or hear about recruit X and pass along the word.

Another way that a coach will encounter a player is by watching lots of basketball. There are times when a coach is out scouting another player only to realize that it is not recruit X that works best for their system but recruit Y. They hadn’t even heard of recruit Y until they were out checking out recruit X.

Regardless of how a coach hears about a recruit whether by hearsay, sources, or by watching a game, coaches always evaluate a player on their own. They don’t just naturally trust a recruiting site because they need to make sure the recruit fits into their system.

This is the first encounter which leads us to the first contact. That will be part 2 of the series.