This is the fifth and final post in a series which will address the reasons why a basketball player should consider attending a prep school for a post graduate year. The goal of these articles is to provide information which will help players better understand their options. You can see the previous four posts here. This article will focus on the benefit of a post grad year to help players determine what level of college basketball is the right fit.
I hear the following statements from parents quite frequently:
“Johnny outplayed this one kid who signed with a high major basketball program. I know Johnny is better and should be getting a high major offer, too.”
“My son is a D1 player. He just needs to be 1) seen by the right coach 2) get more touches 3) play for a better coach that will utilize his talents, etc…”
There are a lot of kids, parents, uncles, friends, trainers and AAU coaches who think their kid deserves to be playing at a higher level than they are being recruited. This happens for one reason or another; it could be playing on the wrong AAU team, an ineffective coach, or fill in the blank with any ol’ excuse. You see this on American Idol every season. Someone gets in front of Katy Perry and shortly after beginning to sing, the hopeful idol is stopped. They just don’t have what it takes. In the post audition interview with Ryan Seacrest the singer is crying and usually says, “but my friends and family told me I was a good singer!” Sometimes what we need more than anything is the truth.
Going to a prep school for a post grad year has many benefits which have been explained in the previous posts in this series. But knowing what college level a player deserves to play at is often a toss-up. Prep school coaches can look at film and do their due diligence on a player to see if they are worthy of a spot on their roster. Current college offers also help show a player’s level. But once that player shows up on campus, he could be worse or better (hopefully!) than expected.
I have gotten both calls from prep school coaches: “I didn’t know he was this good,” and “I thought he was going to be better than he is showing me.” It is hard to know until a player gets on the court for a prep school. Once a player is in a prep school program and going through the strength training sessions, early morning workouts and open gyms, his coach will have a better idea of his potential college level. From here, the prep school coach will reach out to colleges at the appropriate level to get looks for his players.
There are also two goals that I hear most from players when I initially talk to them: 1) I want to get a scholarship at D1 or D2; or 2) I want to find the best-fitting school no matter the level. Prep school coaches and myself walk the family through their goals and let them know if either one is realistic. The latter one usually is, and is the better option.
Take this case study of two players: one attended a prep school for a post grad year and the other did not.
Player 1. I coached a 6’7’’ stud of a player back in the day. He was one of the top players in the state and had about five D1 schools sniffing around. His first offer was from a D2 school who continued to recruit him hard from the moment they offered him to throughout the season Knowing that the player’s goal was D1, I found a prep school for him that would give him virtually a free ride. (Not only did he excel on the court, but he had excellent grades and test scores.) He could spend another summer on the AAU and camp circuit before beginning his post grad year. After that year, if he didn’t like the offers that came his way he could always go back to the D2 that initially offered him and be more emotionally and physically mature, as well as prepared to contribute on the court right away. He ultimately chose to go to the D2 school and had a solid career there. But talking to him years later, the player said he wished he would have tried the post-grad year just to see what would have come from it. He lives with the regret of never knowing what could have potentially happened.
Player 2. I coached this player when he was in junior high and we stayed in touch throughout his high school career. I was a former teammate of his father’s who had a successful D3 career. The family was open to trying a post grad year because they only had a few D3 and D2 offers and they weren’t what the family was looking for. This player eventually chose a high level prep school and became the team captain. He played in front of hundreds of coaches during the summer before his post grad year, pre-season open gyms, and the regular prep school season. He had a solid body and good shot, but he never hit the three pointers consistently in games. After this extra season, his only suitors were D3 schools. His coach could have searched the country for a D2 spot and gotten him one, but after all the bandwidth spent, it was apparent what level this player was. He ended up choosing a high-academic D3 and went in more prepared than many of his upperclassmen teammates. This is an example of a player who gave it all he had and exhausted all resources to learn what level he actually belonged. He won’t be kept up at night wondering “what if.” He can sleep soundly because he gave it everything he had and he just didn’t have the talent to play at the D1 level.
The takeaway of this article is to have players and their families truly think about what they want. So many kids want D1. I did, as well, so I get it. It was my top goal starting in third grade. But you’ve gotta have reality checks, too.. There are only so many roster spots at the D1 level. Are you good enough to ensure a head coach keeps his job or gets promoted? Are you willing to go to a bottom-30 program with no tradition, student support and continual losing seasons? Will you go to an urban commuter school or to a campus located in the middle of nowhere?
A post grad year does not offer any guarantees. But it will show you what level you are ready for.