As my Team Hurricane Basketball Academy seeks to make the leap into prep school basketball, the time has come for me to reflect on just what is it a basketball coach looks for in recruiting players for their program. I have my ideas which I'll share shortly. But since I plan to deal with high school players looking to do a gap year, I thought I'd look around and share what some college coaches had to say about recruiting and what they look for in players.
First, let's look at a general recruiting philosophy.
John Calipari, University of Kentucky:
“You have to know what (the recruit’s) dreams and aspirations are, and chase those with them. I’m trying to help them succeed, so we become one of the places where everyone wants to work.”
John Calipari has 5 Rules of Recruiting
Rule 1: You have to know the people you recruit.
“I ask them, what do you want out of your college experience, where do you want basketball to take you? And then, from there, I’m doing everything I can to help them succeed.”
Rule 2: Honesty is key.
Calipari never promises playing time or NBA stardom to his recruits, only opportunity.
“The last thing you want is someone who isn’t going to thrive in your system. The more they fail, those results begin to hurt your recruitment.”
Rule 3: If someone moves, don't forget about them.
“Are you taking care of people on the way out? Or is all just about what they can do for you? That’s all part of recruiting.”
Rule 4: Social media is your friend.
Calipari has more than one million Twitter followers, more than 500,000 Facebook followers and frequently updates both accounts. Why? For him, it’s a way to get the real Calipari out, without the filter of the mainstream media. Going back to his point of being honest, the more he can show the world what the real John Calipari is like, the more likely he is to get recruits who are a good fit. “
"Social media, if you are not doing it, you are already losing,” he said. “If you are doing it, it’s more or less to be transparent.”
Rule 5: Follow the Golden Rule.
"Ultimately though, what it comes down to is treating people the right way. If you are honest, if you legitimately help people achieve their dreams and if keep a good relationship with them after they leave, you are going to have a successful organization."
Coach Mike Krzyzewski 0f Duke:
"As far as the kid we go after, we look at three things: Is he talented enough to help us win a championship? [That doesn't mean he has to be a pro right away.] Is he academically prepared to do a good job here? And third - and they all have the same importance - what kind of character does he have? Does he have great character?"
Once you've established a philosophy about recruiting what specifically do coaches look for in players.
Athletic ability is the first thing to look at. How explosive, how quick twitch, fast might not be the right word, how explosive a first step, first jump, ability to slide, those things. The next thing to me is can they shoot? I didn't say score, but can they shoot? In a perfect world I would rather have a great athlete who is a great shooter rather than a great athlete who is a great scorer. It's easier to teach somebody how to score than it is to teach somebody how to shoot. The last thing is if they are tough."
So, upon reflection, here are some keys that I'm looking for as I hit the recruiting trail:
Tough players, who play to win. Nothing to do with the final score, but rather their approach to the game, every drill. They give their best effort always. They don't pout nor get discouraged easily. They fight through the adversity the game will bring. Applies to their schoolwork as well. They don't give up on assignments or go through motions with their schoolwork.
Play with enthusiasm. Enjoys the game.
Like players who warm up properly. Or are they out there chucking up 25 footers the moment they step on the court. Are they into the game when they're on the sidelines. Are they talking the game with teammates or talking about girls. Seek players who are disciplined in thought and in character.
Good Academics - Speaks for itself. I mean, it is the reason why they're in school...to get good grades and take an interest in learning.
Like Bill Self, I want shooters more so than scorers. But I love those with passing and dribbling skills as well. Our program doesn't stifle those who pass and dribble with creative flair as long as it's within reason. :-)
Long, lean and quick/fast.
Players who can run and learn offenses and defenses. Don't seek out players who see basketball as a free-for all pick-up game.
Do they fit our system. I like to play fast. Not necessarily run and gun, but play at an uptempo pace with discipline. That's a unique skill set. To play fast but not wildly. Comes back to being disciplined. Our motion offense system is tailored for creative players, creative thinkers. I want players who can figure things out on their own. Who can improvise within the basic rules of our system. It's a system that has roles for slashers and catch-and-shoot jump shooters. Players with good decision making skills in the open court.
So there you have it. A few thoughts on recruiting. I recruit 24/7 so don't hesitate to let me know about talented players of good character and beautiful jump shots!