In college basketball, there are different categories of walk-on players, each with varying levels of recruitment and opportunities. Here’s an explanation of the differences between each type of college basketball walk-on:

Preferred Walk-On

A preferred walk-on is a player who is invited to join a college basketball team without being offered an athletic scholarship. The coaching staff expresses a strong interest in having the player join the team, and they may receive some level of support, such as preferential treatment in terms of practice time or other benefits. Preferred walk-ons typically have a higher chance of eventually earning a scholarship if they perform well and contribute to the team.

College Basketball Walk-On

Recruited Walk-On

A recruited walk-on is a player who has been actively recruited by the coaching staff, despite not receiving an athletic scholarship offer. The coaching staff shows genuine interest in the player’s abilities and potential contributions to the team. They may have had conversations with the player, attended their games, or evaluated their skills during the recruiting process. Although they don’t initially offer a scholarship, programs value the recruited walk-on as a potential contributor. As a result, they may receive similar benefits to preferred walk-ons.


A walk-on is a player who joins a college basketball team without any prior recruitment or scholarship offer. Walk-ons typically try out for the team or express their interest in joining, and if selected, they participate without any financial aid from the athletic department. Programs don’t recruit them or offer any preferential treatment initially. However, they have the opportunity to prove themselves during practices and games. Walk-ons often face more challenging paths to earning playing time and scholarships compared to preferred or recruited walk-ons.


It’s important to note that these terms may vary slightly across different programs and colleges. The level of support and opportunities provided to college basketball walk-on players can also vary depending on the specific program, coaching staff, and resources available.

More Info About College Basketball Walk-Ons

To learn more, dive into the PREP Athletics Podcast, and check out these additional videos below that discuss this topic:

What Was It Like Being a D1 Basketball Walk-On at Tulane? Feat. Newman School Coach Jackson Johnson

What is the Difference BTW a College Basketball Preferred Walk-On, Recruited Walk-On, and Walk-On? Feat. Coach Raphael Chillious

-What are the Pros + Cons of being a Preferred D1 Walk On? -Feat. Former D1 Asst Coach Jim McCarthy

-The Pros + Cons of Being a Division 1 Basketball Walk On. Feat. IMG Academy’s Coach Alex Popp

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