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  • If you have ever in the past – or think you ever will in the future – been confused by the college basketball recruiting process, this recruiting guide will clear the smoke and show you the exact steps you can take to increase the likelihood your dreams come true:

    Let’s get started.

    In this guide, I’m going to break down 6 key aspects of the recruiting process.

    They include:

    1. Why you should get good before you get seen.
    2. Should you play AAU?
    3. How to find the right schools and reach out to coaches? (Email script included)
    4. Why getting good grades is so important.
    5. 6 things college coaches hate when recruiting players.
    6. How to approach a recruiting visit.

    Before we keep going, know this…

    Being recruited is hard work. The odds are stacked against you. Just look at the graph below — which shows how few players actually make it.

    But, here’s the good news: if you’re willing to do the hard work required, keep reading.

    1. GET GOOD BEFORE YOU GET SEEN (especially for those in 10th grade and under)

    Let’s start with a story…

    I recently attended a high school playoff basketball game where the winning team would qualify for state. Steven, a 10th grader, was a player I’d trained and it was fun watching him compete.

    Unfortunately, Steven’s team was outplayed and their season ended that night. After the game, his dad approached me a bit frustrated. Frustrated because Steven didn’t play a ton or do particularly well.

    “We need to get Steven on a good AAU team this summer. He really wants to play in college, but right now, doesn’t have many options. We need to find the right team and the right coach that will get him to the right tournaments. Can you help?”

    Ahh.

    This was a loving, supportive, well intentioned parent who wants the best for their son. Nothing wrong with that.

    But here’s the thing…

    Steven didn’t start for his team who just got crushed.
    Steven can’t dribble by a defender or shoot well from distance or from mid range.
    Steven won’t play post in college and can’t defend a wing now.

    If a coach did see him this summer, they would immediately dismiss him and not think twice.

    That’s a problem.

    While these are tough things to hear, I shared this with Steven’s dad (in a generous way of course).

    Then I said,

    “Steven needs to spend 2-3 hours a day training his skills. He must be able to face the basket and beat a defender one-on-one. He must be able to consistently make threes and elbow jumpers. He must be able to defend perimeter players. He must be able to pass and make plays at speed.”

    The point is, he doesn’t need to get seen by college coaches until he gets good first.

    Later that week, I got on the phone with Steven’s dad and shared an improvement formula PGC Basketball President Mano Watsa shared with me.

    Mano worked with NBA star Jamal Murray in 8th and 9th grade, before he had ever played on an AAU team.

    Here’s what he said Jamal did:

    1. He built a ridiculous skill set
      • He put in countless ‘unseen’ hours to develop his pro-level skills.
    2. He developed his basketball IQ
      • He studied the game to become clever, shifty, and a master at reading defenses.
    3. He played pickup with older players
      • He regularly played with guys WAY older than him.
    4. He did ninja-like mindset training
      • His dad studied Bruce Lee and taught him his approach.
    5. He found the best places to learn and grow
      • This included attending a PGC camp in back-to-back years.


    When he did finally play AAU in high school, he was ready to dominate.

    And even though he had little exposure up until that point, he got everyone’s attention fast.

    Now, after hearing that, you might be thinking…

    2. SHOULD I PLAY AAU OR NOT?

    Well think about this…

    In an AAU game, players have the ball in their hands for an average of two minutes. In a 4-game tourney, that’s only 8 minutes of ‘touches’.

    As a tournament can easily cost $500 in hotels, meals, and fees, that’s $62.50 per minute with the ball!

    And while that’s crazy, there’s a cost that’s even greater.

    The cost of not improving.

    In fact, in AAU tournaments you may develop bad habits that drive good coaches crazy.

    So, why is it so popular?

    Well, here’s my take…most players play AAU because they think it’s the only ticket to playing college basketball.

    The truth is, it’s not.

    Just getting on a good AAU team will not get you a scholarship or help you build a jump shot.

    The only way to get those two things is to do the painful, boring work in the dark when no one is watching. Only then will you be seen in front of the lights.

    That’s when playing AAU becomes valuable. That’s when going to showcase events and elite camps is a good idea.

    So here’s a “good idea, bad idea” framework to help you think through, “Should I play AAU?”

    AAU is a bad idea when…

    1. You don’t get on the floor in games.
    2. You have a bad team environment.
    3. You don’t get coaching that makes you better.
    4. Your travel schedule hinders the other key parts of the formula.


    AAU is a good idea when…

    1. You get playing time.
    2. You have a good team environment.
    3. You play for a coach who helps you improve.
    4. You don’t skip the other parts of the success formula.


    If you want different results than most players, you have to do things differently than most players.

    3. HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT SCHOOLS AND REACH OUT TO COACHES

    Now, let’s assume you’re doing the work – training daily, playing in the best pickup games, seeking mentorship, studying the game, and playing AAU (because it makes sense).

    But schools still aren’t reaching out to you. Coaches still aren’t sending you letters.

    Before you pay a recruiting service (which can definitely be beneficial) to help you out, try this.

    I call it the…

    “Do it Yourself (DIY) 10-Step Recruiting Strategy”

    Let me break it down…

    1. Set the Foundation – The #1 factor for the college selection process must be fit. As you consider what schools would be the best fit for you, remember these three questions:

    • What level can I play at? (If you don’t know, ask your coach.)
    • What do I want to study?
    • Where do I want to live?

    2. Research, Research, Research – Google is your best friend and has all the information you need. Go to Google and search “list of college athletic programs in {insert desired state}” Here’s an example for Arizona. This Wikipedia page has every NCAA, D1, D2, D3, NAIA, Junior College, and NCCAA institution in that state.

    3. Create a List of 10 Schools – Scroll through the list of schools in your desired states. If you find one that you’re interested in, study the school’s website and basketball page. Does it pique your interest? Does it get you excited? If so, add it to your list. Don’t get bogged down in your research here. Move on and repeat this process until you have 10.

    4. Rank Order – Once you have your list, rank your choices. Put your dream school #1, your fall back option #10, and rank the others two through nine.

    5. Study the Current Team – What year are the players on the team who play your position? What’s the school’s win / loss record in the past 5 years? How long has the coach been there? Do you know anyone who’s played for that coach you can speak to?

    6. Send an Email (to all the schools on your list) – Navigate to the school’s basketball website to find the assistant coach’s email address, then send a personalized email that includes:

    • Why you’re interested in their basketball program
    • Test scores and grade point average (GPA)
    • Spring / Summer AAU schedule
    • Highlight tape (3 minute max)… ask if they’d like game film too.


    Here’s an email template I helped a young male athlete create.

    7. Follow-up Phone Call – Coaches are busy and won’t see every email. If you haven’t heard back in two days, call! Most athletes won’t do this. Just think, if you’re feeling scared, the other thousand players wanting the same scholarship are feeling the same. And trust me, they’re not following up with a call. It’s a bit scary but if you have the courage to do it, it’ll improve the chances you get what you want.

    During this phone call, have a script to help you clearly articulate why you’re calling and the desired outcome of the call. Also, be ready to resend your initial email again in case the coach accidentally deleted it or it got buried. Make the coach’s life easy. This shows initiative and helps you stand out.

    8. Note Taking Process – As the call is going or after the call ends, write everything down. Use a notebook, Word document, or an Excel sheet – make sure you have captured these three things:

    • Specific information that will be helpful next time you both speak.
    • Things you learned that will help you with the next conversation.
    • The next step for you with that coach. (Did they want film? Did they tell you to call back in two weeks). Are they even interested?

    9. Send a Follow-up Handwritten Letter – If you want to stand out, do things others aren’t doing. Send a letter to the basketball offices directed to the coach you spoke with on the phone. Whether you think they like you or not, do this because it makes a great impression. Coaches are connected all over the country, constantly talking about players, and you want your name at the top of their minds.

    10. Repeat the Process – For each of the 10 schools on your list, go through this same process.

    “Wait, Kyle, you’re telling me I have to do all of those things for ten coaches?” It depends. You saw the stats. The odds are against you. If you want to be the one that gets a scholarship, do the things that others aren’t willing to do.

    It takes a lot of time and guarantees you nothing. Shooting 1,000 shots in practice doesn’t guarantee you will make more shots in games, but it does greatly increase your chances.

    By going through this process, you’ll learn:

    • How to write better emails
    • How to work hard for what you want
    • How to demonstrate courage in the face of fear
    • The value of handwritten notes
    • How to sell yourself
    • How to speak well with adults on the phone
    • Doing the little things in life make you stand out
    • A great approach for getting a job in the future
    • How to push past “no” — because most of these coaches won’t end up recruiting you

    And here’s the truth! If you’re not even close to good enough to play for those schools, none of the above will matter! You must, and I repeat, you must, improve your skills so you can actually help one of these teams win games.

    Coaches are looking for good people to help them win games. And know this, you’ll get a lot of coaches ignoring your emails and saying no. But keep at it. You only need one coach to say yes or take a chance on you and your whole life will change in an instant.

    4. WHY ARE GRADES SO DANG IMPORTANT?

    There are quite a few guidelines to follow when it comes to academics and college sports. There are tons of articles that go deep on the topic of what you need to do to be eligible – courses to take and grades to have. Whether you plan to play NCAA, NAIA, or JUCO, it’s in your best interest to identify those requirements early.

    For any NCAA school, search on Google for their eligibility center and understand those requirements. For NAIA, search on Google for their eligibility center and understand those requirements. And for JUCO, look online because it often varies depending on state.

    Here’s the gist…

    When I was being recruited, coaches would call and often the first question they’d ask is, “how are your grades?” Because they know if you have bad grades and can’t qualify, they’ll need to stop recruiting you and find another player.

    They don’t want to waste time. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to do your best in school. And not just for playing college sports, for the rest of your life (but that’s an article for another day).

    5. SIX THINGS COLLEGE COACHES HATE WHEN RECRUITING

    You’ve done your research, created your list of 10, called these coaches, and a few decided they want to come see you play in person? And then, a few of those coaches actually start recruiting you.

    Congrats!

    Now, with that said, I went out and interviewed 5 college coaches and here are the 6 things coaches hate when recruiting players you’ll want to make sure you avoid.

    1. Being allergic to D – This is pretty straightforward. Coaches hate players who don’t even try on defense. It says a lot about you as a player. If you can’t play D at the high school level, what makes a coach think you’ll magically change at the college level? Some things fluctuate from game to game and college coaches understand this. But effort, communication, and pride defensively aren’t on that list. Actually, taking pride in defense will get you noticed and could be a separator when compared to your competition.
    2. Bad teammate, uncoachable, poor body language – There’s lots of good players out there and most coaches will move on to the next one when they see you sulk, yell at teammates, or roll your eyes when getting coached.
    3. ISO ball – College teams rarely ISO for 1 guy. Coaches want to see if you know how to play. If you’re at an AAU/Showcase event and over dribble, are selfish & take bad shots, it’s a red flag. Be aggressive, make plays, make shots, but also share the ball & create for others.
    4. No attention to detail
      • Spelling a coach’s name wrong when writing back to them.
      • Putting the wrong school name in your email to them.
      • Ignoring text messages.
      • Missing deadlines.

      The bottom line is, coaches are getting to know who you are in the recruiting process. If you show them a lack of attention to detail, they assume this is what they can expect from you as a player in their program. Coaches don’t want players who are high maintenance, miss deadlines, and don’t communicate. It causes them way more work in the short term (which they won’t like), and also makes them think you’ll be that way when you get on campus. Big red flag.

    5. Ghosting – Coaches invest months into recruiting & building relationships. Then, instead of having a conversation or sending a message to tell them you’re going elsewhere, you simply stop responding. Remember, coaches are human beings. Also, remember coaches are friends with coaches and reputation travels. Don’t, “stop responding.”
    6. “Hey coach, actually, I am interested” – Coaches hate when recruits brush them off because the school “isn’t high enough level.” Then, a few months later, that player reaches back out because they didn’t get any other offers. Keep your options open.

    6. HOW TO APPROACH RECRUITING VISITS?

    Now, you’re getting letters and actually talking to the coaches at the school. A clear sign “you’re being recruited.” And you’re about to go on a visit to the school. You’re going to meet the team, see the facilities, and speak with the coaching staff.

    It’s in your best interest to BE PREPARED.

    So let’s dive into that now.

    Here’s some questions to think through while on your visit.

    1. Will I enjoy day to day life here when I’m not in basketball season? Where is campus located? Are there things to do? How is the weather? At times, hooping will feel like an occupation and there needs to be a place to escape to clear your head.
    2. Will I get along with the current and incoming roster? You’ll be around these people four hours a day from August to March. You need to find a team you like being around because you’re going to be spending a LOT of time together.
    3. How do you feel about the staff around campus? Pay attention to these things on your visit.
    4. As seniors will be leaving and some will transfer, what roles need to be filled for next year’s team? This will help you better understand what the coach wants. Knowing what the coach wants coupled with you knowing your skill set can help determine if it’s going to be a good fit for you.

    As a recruit on a visit, do your homework beforehand. Know what offense the school runs, ask what they take pride in defensively, know the roster and how many seniors will be leaving in your position.

    Be transparent, it shows you care and are serious about your own development.

    In closing, getting recruited is hard work! To get recruited is to be considered one of the very best basketball players in the entire United States. It does not come without a ton of work and a lot of sacrifice.

    But take it from someone who’s gone through it – it’s extremely rewarding to get recruited and play a sport in college!

    The experiences you have, friendships you make, and lessons you learn are invaluable.

    I hope this guide helps you along in your process!

    Kyle Koszuta

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    About PGC

    PGC Basketball provides intense, no-nonsense basketball training for players and coaches. Our basketball camps are designed to teach players of all positions to play smart basketball, be coaches on the court, and be leaders in practices, games and in everyday life.

    We combine our unique PGC culture with a variety of teaching methods and learning environments to maximize the learning potential of those that attend our sessions. In addition to spending 6-7 hours on the court each day, lessons will be reinforced through classroom sessions and video analysis.

    Our goal at PGC is to empower you with the tools to fulfill your basketball dreams, while also assisting you in experiencing the joy of the journey.

    To learn more about PGC Basketball, including additional basketball training tips and videos, visit our YouTube Channel or find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.