Scholastic sports are a big part of many high school students’ lives. In many cases, it’s the only way for student-athletes to get into a good college without incurring hefty student loans. But for some, gunning for an athletic scholarship is a step towards getting into the professional league.
Because it’s such a big step in a student-athlete’s life, deciding which sport to focus on can be challenging when trying to get a scholarship. For example, some people might think football is the easiest sport to get a scholarship in.
But is that true?
Let’s take a look at some stats and find out.
How Does Basketball Recruiting Work?
The recruiting pool is undoubtedly large, with 500,000 average high school student-athletes in basketball each year. And with about 337 schools qualifying for the NCAA Division 1 and just 13 scholarships per team, the level of competition is incredibly tough.
When Does Basketball Recruiting Typically Start?
For starters, the recruitment process begins early in a high school player’s freshman season and can often last throughout a player’s entire high school career.
The first step recruiters make is to list eligible student-athletes they want to keep an eye on. This way, college basketball scouts can properly track the development and evaluate their eligibility for a college scholarship.
So, if you’re actively campaigning to get recruited to an NCAA Division 1 college, starting it as early as freshman year is important. Here’s a list of things you can do in each year of high school that will heighten your chances of getting that call:
Year 1: Set Goals
- Figure out which school you want to attend both for its basketball program and its academic reputation
- Check-in with your guidance counselor to assess your eligibility for the college(s) that you’re aiming for
- Set both the academic and athletic goals for the program you want to attend
- Create an online presence for your athletic endeavors so college basketball scouts and coaches can have a glimpse of what you can do on the court
- Actively let your intentions be known to the colleges you’re aiming for, and they might give you some pointers and guidelines on how you can best fit their system
Year 2: Maintain a Good Stand Both On and Off the Court
- Focus on becoming the best student-athlete you can be
- Ensure that your grades are at a level that keeps you eligible for the NCAA Tournament
- Keep your lines of communication open even for colleges not on your target list
Year 3: Submit Your Eligibility Paperwork to the NCAA
- Take the SAT/ACT and submit your scores to the NCAA Eligibility Center
- NCAA Division 1 and 2 are allowed to contact high school athletes at this point
- If you’re not getting any calls, look for other schools that may benefit from your skillset on the court and let them know you’re available
Year 4: Pick an Offer and Sign
- Register with the Eligibility Center
- Read the scholarship offers and watch out for the pertinent information, such as whether they’re partial scholarships or a full scholarship
- Sign with the best one that fits your needs and goals
What Do Basketball Scouts Look For?
College basketball scouts often chart a player’s development during a high schooler’s state-organized leagues. Attendance of college basketball camps or playing in other tournaments can also put one on the map.
However, it’s important not to slack off in the classroom and on the court if you want to get recruited into a Division I college, as scouts are looking for good grades and competitive drive.
Scholarships come into play during junior and senior years depending on how well a basketball player has done in terms of their scores, class rank, SAT/ACT scores, and performance on the court.
How to Get Recruited for Football?
American Football participation rates among high school students consistently hit 1 million year after year. With over 255 Division I NCAA schools offering between 63-85 scholarships per team, there are definitely more scholarship slots for football players than basketball players. But this doesn’t mean that it’s not a competitive sport. Football recruitment processes can be just as tedious as basketball.
When Does Football Recruitment Start?
Football recruiters are a lot more active than basketball recruiters. You can expect one or two recruiters at your team’s practice and games from your freshman year until you graduate. But this doesn’t mean you don’t have to actively seek a college scholarship.
Division I colleges already send out feelers to promising athletes as early as their freshman season. However, they’re only allowed for official visits to high school athletes in their junior and senior years.
Here are a couple of things that you need to do to get that recruitment call:
- Maintain an online presence and update it with video content your development as a player
- Maintain grades in line with the grade requirement of the school you’re going for and the NCAA requirements
- Comply with the NCAA Eligibility Office paperwork and other prerequisites
- Take the SAT or ACT
- Sign with the college of your choice
What Do Football Scouts Look For?
For such a physical sport, football requires a lot of mental toughness and skill. So, it’s important to have these qualities in a recruit, as well as the physical build to withstand the beating football players need to take on the field.
So, while a player’s body type hasn’t quite reached its peak yet in high school, scouts, no matter the NCAA Division, only often gauge a player by their mental toughness and skill during the entire high school recruitment process.
Since scouts are technically looking for personnel that would fit both the football team and a particular school system, they also need to look out for a student’s academic performance when considering a recruit.
Here’s a summary of the things that football scouts look for in a high school recruit:
- Instinct and innate skills
- Mental toughness
- Body type
- Academic performance
Which Sport Between Basketball and Football is Harder to Get Into?
There are three factors that generally affect a high school basketball player’s likelihood of earning an athletic scholarship to NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 schools. These are a student athlete’s skill, the school’s roster slot, and the position an athlete plays.
A basketball program team typically has 15 slots to give. Football, on the other hand, needs around 85 – 125 athletes on the roster to compete for the season.
Each team has to fill a specific set of positions that require different skill sets. For basketball, there are a total of five different positions. For football, there are 24 different positions up for grabs.
Coaches and recruitment personnel need to fill these roster slots and positions in a way that perfectly complements the team’s character.
Because of the limited roster slot and positions in a basketball team, the level of competition for an athletic scholarship for basketball is higher than it is on a football team.
To be exact, the Athlete Sports Management Group lists college basketball scholarships as one of the most difficult to attain, with about a 3.5% chance per high school athlete. On the other hand, football scholarships score 7.1%.
How to Get Yourself Ready for the Scouting Season: 5 Tips
For the many kids who dream of playing college sports, the road to success is paved with dedication and hard work. To have a fighting chance of becoming a college athlete, they must start preparing well in advance.
1. Set Your Goals
Goal-setting is one of the most important things a high school player can do to attain an athletic scholarship. Getting there isn’t a walk in the park as there are a ton of tasks beyond the football field or the basketball court to be done, such as getting good grades and submitting requirements for eligibility.
2. Reach Out to Coaches
Reach out to coaches through emails or letters expressing interest in their program. Attending college showcases or camps can be a great way to get noticed as well. If possible, try visiting schools in person and attending practice sessions so that coaches can see your skills and how you interact with the team.
3. Document Your Progress
Make sure to keep in touch with coaches, provide updates on game performance, and send highlights videos whenever possible and appropriate. Connecting with college sports recruiters through social media can also be a great way to stay top-of-mind.
Use modern channels such as social media and other video-sharing platforms like YouTube to raise your profile as a player.
4. Hone Your Skills
As an athlete, no matter what level you’re at, it’s important to continuously work on your skills and approach. This is true for every major or minor competition, as well as for individual training.
The key to success lies in preparation—not just having sufficient practice, but also understanding and knowing your opponent; analyzing the tactics, they may deploy; paying attention to the details of your movement patterns, and when appropriate, pushing yourself both mentally and physically to the limits of your capabilities. This is what it takes to be a college-level player, especially in the ultra-competitive world of Division 1 and Division 2.
Apart from competing with others, raising your talent level also helps in avoiding potential injuries that could send you back to square one. Additionally, mastering even minor technicalities will eventually make all the difference when taking part in strenuous events that require concentration as well as physical agility.
So take some time to practice regularly—find weekly drills to help you stay sharp and be mentally prepared—as it pays off in the end!
5. Stay on Top of Your Academics
Beyond honing their craft, building an impressive resume through working on school projects, extracurricular activities, or volunteer service can help open the doors to an impressive college program. Not only will this show their commitment towards academics and beyond-the-court skillset, but it’ll also give them added coverage if there’s an injury or setback en route.
Furthermore, staying organized with all their activities is another way for prospective athletes to manage the process – from keeping track of games schedules and recruiting emails to properly filing official documents that’ll be required at various points throughout their college career journey.
And in case you don’t get recruited for your play, you may even be able to study at the school of your dreams on an academic scholarship.
Wrapping Things Up: Is it Easier to Get Recruited for Football or Basketball?
Although getting into collegiate sports for football is definitely easier than basketball, it’s still possible to make it into the NCAA Division 1 and 2 without getting a full ride.
For starters, scouting is just starting to become a more reliable way of picking up promising talent when it comes to hoops, so athletic scholarships are becoming increasingly commonplace.
Even outside of that route, there are always walk-on programs if you make it into a school on your own merits. Additionally, there are clubs and organizations devoted to helping student-athletes win athletic scholarships as long as they can consistently demonstrate their basketball skills.
At the end of the day, while football may have an edge in terms of the level of competition for athletic scholarships, that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope out there for those looking to get into Division 1 and 2 schools with their basketball skills! So stay focused and dedicated; you never know what you might be able to achieve.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.