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Basketball Recruiting Explained Part 2: First Contact


This is part 2 of an evolving series explaining the ins and outs of basketball recruiting. You can read part 1, ‘First Encounter’ here.

To reiterate the premise of the series and where the information is derived from; 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, in each article they will be referred to as “high school player/recruit”, “D-1 coach”, and “high school coach”.

How is the first contact made between a recruit and a coach?

This is one of the major questions that I have been asked and it is a sticky situation. For contacting recruits can be completely okay for a university to do and at other times it can be completely against NCAA rules. It depends on the time of the year, what grade the recruit is in, how the coach is contacting a recruit, etc.

You have to understand NCAA rules for contacting a recruit. There really is no simple way to explain it, but I will do my best.

  • A recruit has to be in the summer before their 9th grade year in high school before they are considered a “prospective student athlete” and thus a recruit. However, before their junior year there are very strict rules on how they can be recruited. For example, coaches were recently allowed to unlimitedly text and call 2014 recruits.

There are 4 different types of recruiting periods during the calendar year; Dead, Quiet, Evaluation, and Contact.

  • Dead- The dead period means there can be no IN PERSON contact with a player or parents. Phone calls, letters, and other non-“in person” communication is allowed. There are multiple dead periods, this recruiting year their were five; November 7-10, December 24-26, March 29-April 5, May 17-26, July 6-31, 2012 (with three exceptions on July 15, 22, and 29).
  • Quiet- The quiet period is similar to the dead period with the exception being that in-person visits are allowed unofficially and must be instigated by the recruit or the recruit’s family. This year there were two quiet periods; August 1-September 8 and April 19-July 5 (with 3 exceptions April 20-22, April 27-29, and May 17-26).
  • Evaluation-  The evaluation period means that the coach can go off campus to watch a recruit play. They can schedule visits to the campus but there can be NO OFF CAMPUS INTERACTION besides evaluation. Phone calls are permitted. April 20-22, April 27-29, and May 17-26 are examples of evaluation periods from this calendar.
  • Contact- The contact period means that it is a free-for-all. Coaches can talk to a recruit off campus, on campus, on the phone, etc. They can freely contact a recruit. Two contact periods in this recruiting year; September 9-October 5 and April 5-18 (except April 9-12 when it’s a dead period).

Confused yet? I am and I am the one writing the piece. If you want to see the recruiting calendar click here.

Therefore, first contact isn’t always as straight forward as it seems. It depends on what time of year it is or what is going on. This is often why coaches prefer to deal with high school or AAU coaches because they can talk to them freely when it comes to the first contact.

A phone call may also be the first contact because phone calls are allowed in more of the above periods than in-person. Sometimes a call can be initiated by the recruit but not by the coach. It is confusing.

The D1 coach I interviewed about this series explained his first contact this way:

"It totally depends on the situation.  If I have been referred to a kid by someone in particular that clearly has a relationship with the player, I will usually start the recruiting process through that person to get more information on the player.  If I am seeing the player for the first time and I don’t know anything about him I will go directly to the coach to find out more information on the player (like what kind of kid he is, what he thinks of him as a player, character, grades, etc.).  If everything checks out, I will look to contact the player and/or his parents directly to introduce myself and our school to them.  I will rarely send out information without being able to put my name to it. If they have no idea who our school is, where it is, what it is about, etc; there is no point in sending them information that will undoubtedly be placed in a pile with other recruiting mail.  If they have begun to build a relationship with me and have an idea of our school, they are probably more likely to set our written material in a different pile."

The high school coach I talked to said this about the first contact, for he has a slightly different perspective of how coaches go about making their recruiting contact:

"It varies by the player, the level they are being recruited at (HM/LM/D2, etc…) and the time of year (based upon what NCAA rules allow for at that point). In my experience, most commonly, I will get a phone call, then the player will get the next call. This is usually followed by a member of the college staff coming to a practice or a game, and if the interest remains mutual between the player and the college program, a visit is set up. Somewhere in the early stages, letters start coming out, but letters don’t mean anything without at least a phone call. Also, early on eligibility information is requested. Transcripts are sent out, game film if there is any available, etc."

I hope this helps you understand how the first contact is started and in the next part of the series we will dive into where recruiting goes after the first contact.