Every high school basketball player dream of playing in Division 1 college. Unfortunately, only a select few, the cream of the crop, often gets the chance. Only 0.4% of high school basketball players play D1 basketball. The recruitment process involves a lot of things– proactivity, luck, and talent. So, what do D1 basketball scouts look for when recruiting basketball players?
What is D1 Basketball?
NCAA Division I (D-I) is the highest level of collegiate sports sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States, accepting players from all over the world.
Basketball at the D1 level is the most competitive among non-professional leagues. D1 basketball is divided into several levels. You have low major, mid-major, and high major, also known as Power 5 today. There are no partial scholarships available at the D1 level, and each level has its own set of challenges.
What Does It Take to Play D1 Basketball?
First of all, you have to be really good at basketball to play for a Division I school. How good do you have to be? You have to be at the top 0.4 to 0.8% out of hundreds of thousands of high school basketball players. That means you should be inside the top 400 to 800 senior high school basketball players to even have a sliver of a chance.
Not only that, taller high school basketball players seem to have better odds of making it to D1. If you’re shorter than 6-foot-5, it’s an even more challenging endeavor.
After the basketball aspect, there is also the academic angle. According to the official website of the NCAA, would-be D1 players must earn a minimum of a 2.3 GPA in their core courses. On Division I sliding scale, they should reach an SAT combined score or an ACT sum score that matches the core-course GPA. If a student has a low test score, he must have a higher core-course GPA.
Overall, the numbers game is not really favorable unless you have elite talent. A high school basketball player’s odds of making a Division 1 basketball roster are 105:1, while a high school basketball player’s odds of making any college roster are 18:1. Division 1 basketball is a headcount sport, which means that coaches have exactly 13 full-ride scholarships to award to 13 players.
What Qualities Make a Good Basketball Player?
As mentioned earlier, elite talent makes you a shoo-in for any Division 1 college basketball program, especially the most famous ones. But the work doesn’t stop there. While a combination of hard work, practice, and natural talent can help a player develop, true basketball greatness is achieved by developing the “intangibles” as well—those traits that aren’t easily identifiable but are crucial for success in the sport.
Take note of these qualities that make one a good basketball player:
- Overall Awareness. Some basketball players just think that averaging 25 to 30 points makes them good. Nothing can be further from the truth. Awareness is knowing and understanding that it takes more than scoring to win a game.
- Mental Fortitude. A player with a strong mental fortitude allows him to play through diversity. Shooting a poor percentage from the floor? Got blocked three times? It doesn’t matter; he’s still going to play hard.
- Some players simply like basketball, while some love it. But passionate basketball players eat, breathe, and live basketball.
- At this point in a basketball player’s career, he must realize that he doesn’t know everything. This is when he should learn to listen and be a good communicator.
- Makes Teammates Better. Many players can play at a high level, but the really great ones take their teammates with them.
How Do Basketball Scouts Evaluate a Player?
When scouting college basketball players, scouts go through an exhaustingly thorough process, but there are a few key features that they place the most emphasis on.
What do college basketball scouts look for? Since today’s basketball is predicated on jump shooting and athleticism, talent evaluators especially take notice of these. However, the intangibles of a recruit are just as important, if not more crucial, than his or her physical or skill attributes. Players who have both tangible and intangible traits stand out and rise up in the eyes of basketball scouts.
A player’s character and academic success also factor into the equation. Scouts can’t tell a recruit’s character right away, but there are a few things they can look for while doing their homework. Is he continuing to hone his skills as much as possible? Is he a student of the game? Can you tell he goes to the gym? Sometimes, they ask high school coaches just to give them insight into the character of the recruit.
Being consistent in the school environment and achieving excellent grades opens more doors for recruits and provides insight into the young person’s character and maturity. Coaches seek mature student-athletes who understand the value of education and how to maximize their experiences as a student-athlete to prepare for life success.
5 Tips to Get Scouted in Basketball
1. Play the Game with Versatility
In the modern game, the lines blur between the traditional basketball positions. The first step how to get recruited to play college basketball is to play the game with versatility. What should make a prospect versatile? If he can handle the ball and make plays, while being an excellent interior finisher is a start. Defensive, he should be able to guard in space, make decisions off the pick-and-roll, and protect the rim.
2. Play tournaments during live/evaluation period
During the regular season, scheduling conflicts make it hard for college coaches to observe recruits play in person. As a result, they turn to live periods. These offseason stretches allow college basketball scouts and coaches to hit the road and scout multiple players simultaneously. If you want to turn a few D1 eyes, this is the best time to do it.
3. Flaunt your Explosive Athleticism
There is “athleticism,” and there is “explosive athleticism.” No matter what anyone says about playing the right way, versatility, and whatnot, elite athleticism will always make any college scout drool. If you have the natural ability to jump out of the gym, beat everyone down the floor, or blow by any defender, chances are you’ll get attention from college scouts.
4. Send Coaches a Highlight Film and Full Game Film
Sending coaches a highlight video and an entire game film is the best way to secure an in-depth and in-person evaluation. It’s a fast and easy way to demonstrate the recruit’s skill set. A full game film will highlight your intangibles and how you make your teammates better. Highlight mixtapes, on the other hand, put your individual skills into focus. This is how to get recruited to play college basketball proactively.
5. Call and Write
Coaches are overworked and cannot read every email. Call if you haven’t heard back in two days! The majority of athletes will not do this. It’s a little frightening, but have courage and go for it! And sometimes, coaches admire that. That screams a go-getter, and that is an admirable trait for anyone involved in sports.
If this does not work the first time, then there is always another way to get noticed. Why not write hand-written letters? Send a letter to the basketball offices addressed to the coach with whom you spoke on the phone. Do this whether you think they like you or not because it makes a good impression. Coaches are connected all over the country and are constantly discussing players, so you want your name to be at the top of their minds. Sometimes, it’s not about what D1 basketball scouts look for in a player. There are also instances when you must do something to make them look your way.
Wrapping Things Up: What Do D1 Basketball Scouts Look For?
Unless you’re an elite prospect, the numbers game is not in your favor if you want to take a stab at D1 college basketball. Less than 1% of senior high school players get to play at this level. But, of course, basketball skills are not the only things D1 scouts are looking for. A prospect must also be good academically since it’s a testament to his overall character.
That is not to say scouts are immediately all over you just because you excel in the classroom. This is an aggregation of a lot of things. Elite basketball skills, explosive athleticism, and natural attributes are enough to turn heads. Therefore, if you get a chance to showcase them all, go grab the bull by the horns.
So, to sum up, what do D1 basketball scouts look for? Natural attributes and basketball skills are the first. If you’re versatile, explosive, a high leaper, and tall, you got a pretty good chance. But many other players are just as good, tall, and explosive. How do you stand out? Character and academics now come into play. If you are coachable and a hard worker in and out of the classroom, you are only making this process a tad bit easy.
Did you find this helpful? Then also check out other basketball FAQ articles here.