Connection and Recruitment
There are several reasons to attend a post-grad basketball program. These include receiving a better education, the opportunity to mature physically, emotionally and mentally, as well as getting homesickness out of the way. Also, many college coaches want to recruit prep school players due to the superior coaching and competition. Prep school coaches recognize this and, aside from improving a player’s game, their main job is to get players exposed to the right level college programs. Finally, the extra year of school will allow you a chance to grow in size, increase speed and improve skills.
There are several questions which many families have in regards to post-grad programs. The information below addresses the following questions.
Post-grad programs allow a player to improve their game while simultaneously increasing their college exposure. This comes without using a year of NCAA eligibility.
Players may wish to attend a post-grad program in order to improve their exposure to college recruiters while not using a year of college eligibility by going the JUCO route.
We assist basketball players who wish to attend a post-grad program by helping them select a school that best fits their situation. We then begin the process of helping the player gain admission.
What is a post-grad basketball program?
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A post-grad basketball program is a place where a player can spend an extra year to improve as both a player and a person. This is the year after high school and before college. Some call it a fifth year. One of the benefits is that this year does not count against a player’s NCAA eligibility like playing at a junior college does. This year is a chance for players to leave home and improve their chances of reaching their dreams of playing at the college level. A post-grad year can be completed at a prep school or at a basketball academy. Some academies are not associated with a school and are more basketball focused. Before the year starts players have an extra summer to play AAU and attend NCAA certified camps. This extra exposure is what most players are looking for. Once players arrive at a prep school, the open gym period begins. This gives players a chance to play with their new teammates, work on their skills during individual sessions and get stronger in the weight room. This is also the time when college coaches come into the gym to recruit players. Ideally your prep school coach will formulate a recruiting plan with you and your family to figure out what level of schools he will reach out to. If you have talent and are eligible there is a good chance multiple college coaches will be in the gym to see you play. Coaches from all over the country fly to prep schools to find players because they know the coaching and competition are consistent year after year. Plus, players who are spending time away from home won’t be homesick when they step on a college campus for the first time. Players are also better prepared to step in right away and contribute in a college setting versus a player straight out of high school.
When should basketball players do a post-grad year?
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Doing a post-grad year makes sense for some players. The reason usually depends on what the goal of the player is. The main goal of most players is to get a scholarship to a Division 1 school. Going to a prep school will give a player exposure during the additional AAU/camp season and when the post-grad year starts. If a player already has D1 offers they will hopefully bump up a level or gain more offers from the level they are currently at—if they have the right skillset and size, a post-grad year could take a low major player and bump him up to a mid to high major player. A kid with D2 offers might get a D1 offer. Players who have D3 looks might have a chance to bump up to a scholarship. Some players might not have any offers and will be open to seeing what schools reach out to them during this year.
Aside from getting exposure and trying to bump up a level, players want to get schools from other parts of the country to see them. Most offers are regional, but leaving your state and going to an East Coast prep school will allow many more potential schools to see you. In Boston alone there are thirty-five colleges. Some states don’t have this many institutions.
Players also should consider a post-grad year if they need to improve a certain skillset. Some need to improve their handle, shot, speed, strength etc. On a personal note, I graduated high school at 6’7’’ 195 lbs. During my post-grad year I put on twenty pounds of muscle and played every day in practice against other D1 caliber players. Everything about my game improved.
Another example of a player who would benefit from a post-grad year is one who needs to get eligible for the NCAA. They can go the JUCO route or do a post-grad year as long as they are not too far behind in their core classes. Getting a player’s grade point average increased and scoring higher on a standardized test will open up the possibility of going to schools that have higher academic requirements.
Some players graduate high school at 17 or just turning 18. They need this extra year to catch up to their peers on the court.
This year is about players taking a chance on themselves.
When basketball players should not do a post-grad year
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A post-grad year is not for everyone. If a player is not going to bump up a level, a family needs to determine if the financial investment is worth it. If you are a D3 level player and you don’t have the size or skillset to obtain a scholarship then a post-grad year might not be right for you. The player will still get the benefits of maturing and taking college classes and getting better on the court. But this year is not a guarantee to getting a scholarship.
While most players would benefit from a post-grad year, it doesn’t make sense for some who have signed with a good school and will be able to contribute right away.
What are the benefits of attending a post-grad year versus attending a junior college?
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The main reason to complete a post-grad year instead of going to a junior college is that the player does not lose NCAA eligibility. Once you play in a junior college game you have lost a year of playing in the NCAA. A couple of reasons players choose junior college is that they need to drastically improve their grade point average, get their standardized test scores up to the minimum NCAA limit, or they don’t have the finances to pay for tuition at a prep school.
The academics at a prep school are going to be, on whole, more challenging than what is offered at a junior college. This is due to the following:
- The standards to get in a prep school are quite high at most places. They do not take everyone that applies.
- There will be students from many states and around the world where junior colleges mostly serve their region.
- Jucos have been dubbed “Last Chance U.” Some athletes have been at other schools, need to become eligible or have had other issues that are keeping them from going directly to college. There are some that are solid situations and others are rougher around the edges. A prep school is very cognizant of who they want as a part of their student body.
What is the difference between a prep school and an academy?
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Completing a post-grad year can be accomplished at either a prep school or an academy. Some prep schools have existed for over a hundred years and have a fully accredited, academic staff. They have state regulations to follow and most have a “principal and a prom.” Students stay in dormitories and have a fixed academic schedule. These schools have outstanding reputations and long histories of success, both academically and on the basketball court.
Academies on the other hand are more focused on basketball training. While some of these academies offer a good experience, they do not have the strict accountability that prep schools do. A person can start an academy tomorrow. All they need is a place to house the players, a van, and a basketball court. They don’t need to hire teachers or a principal. Some academies offer online classes, access to local community colleges and standardized test prep. It is very important if you are looking at an academy to ask them about their academic structure. Some academies are reputable, and others have popped up overnight looking to take advantage of families. Generally, you can get into an academy cheaper than you could at a bona fide prep school. That is what makes this option attractive to a lot of families. But not all prep schools or academies are created equal. Find out the history of the coaches and who will be supervising the players when they are not in the gym. See what the room and board situation is. Are players eating pasta and cereal all meals? Are meals even covered? Do your due diligence and ask around. PREP Athletics can help you navigate the complex world of prep schools and academies.
What should basketball players expect during a post-grad year?
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If you sign with a prep school before you graduate high school then you should talk to the coach about how to plan your summer. AAU teams, prep school events, and elite camps are vital for being seen on the circuit. Since the coach’s job is to get his players to the next level, he will have a good idea of what route to take. Ideally you will tell your prep school coach your goals and what schools you want him to reach out to. The coach will then tell you if it makes sense to attend any of these colleges’ elite camps. Most of these have staffs from multiple colleges working them. He will also let schools know of your interest and invite them to the open gyms during the fall.
Once you arrive at a prep school in the fall a player will go through orientation then get into the swing of classes and workouts. A valuable time for players are the open gyms in the fall. These are important as college coaches from all of the US descend on these schools to look for recruits. Offers can be made. One of my clients did so well during open gym that he signed with a D1 school in September after only two weeks of open gym at his prep school. During this fall period prep school coaches will get their players in shape through conditioning and stronger in the weight room. At this age players will be more inclined to put on muscle since they are maturing as young men.
Once official practice starts then the routine will be similar to high school. This includes classes and practice each day. The basketball season will be similar to high school as well. It will just be better competition than most players are used to. There will be fall, winter and spring breaks. Once the season ends schools will go back to having open gyms. Some players might not have signed with a school yet, while some colleges will still need to fill roster spots. Once the year is over there will be a graduation ceremony and the next stage of life will begin!
How much will a post-grad year cost and how will a basketball player pay for it?
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The full tuition for most New England prep schools is around $60,000 (2019 prices). As of 2019 IMG Academy has a full tuition of around $82,000. Some military prep schools are in the $30-40k range. This is the full sticker price. How do you get this price lower? Most of these schools will require a financial aid form to be filled out. This paperwork is similar to what is submitted during college applications. It will calculate the parents’ financial information and tell a prep school’s admission department how much a player’s family can afford to pay. Some schools base their tuition on this number only. It is called “need based.” They will not lower the tuition from what the financial aid form tells them. The bright side to this is that some schools will offer a full aid package for students whose families make less than a certain amount each year. It is similar to the Ivy League in that respect.
Other prep schools use this financial aid number but then will add merit money to the cost. For example, let’s say that a prep school costs $60,000. If the number comes back to the school stating that a family could afford to pay $30,000 for a post-grad year then a school will start there. They then can give $10,000 if a player has multiple Division 1 offers, $5,000 since they are from a state where no other current students are from and $5,000 for having a 32 on his ACT. That means a student might only have to pay $10,000 for this year.
As seen in the example, a family can get money off of tuition for having high standardized test scores, college offers and additional extra-curricular achievements. If a player is student body president, captain of the soccer team, volunteers 10 hours a week at a soup kitchen, etc., then a school might be willing to come down on tuition. You need to look at this process from a school’s perspective. They have scores of applications coming in each year. They want the brightest and best. Coaches also get inundated with players wanting to come to their team. There has to be something that gets each excited about you. The more well-rounded you are, the better chance you have to get more financial assistance.
The taller and better a player is, the easier it is to place them. 6’6’’ and taller or D1 offers get a coach excited. Unfortunately guards are harder to place. There are so many for coaches to choose from they are more reluctant to give them much in terms of merit. They can usually find guards whose family will pay the full tuition. It might not be fair but these are the facts. Basketball is not a fair sport.
Most prep schools will require half of the tuition before school starts and the remaining balance before the beginning of the second semester. They do accept payment plans and can guide families to banks that offer loans too.
When I first talk to a family about a post-grad year, I ask what is the maximum amount you are willing to spend for this opportunity. Once I know a player’s academics, playing ability and family’s financial overview then I can give them a tuition range to work within. I always fight to get a family the best deal possible at the right fitting school for the player.
How basketball players can choose the right post-grad option
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When a family hires me to find them the right fitting prep school, I begin by finding out their goals. Once I have the total profile of a player I will go through my database of schools and pick out ten that would be ideal for this particular player. I then rank them in order of which ones I think would be the right fit for the player. I then start reaching out the schools in this order. Once I have three to five schools interested in a player I connect each party.
At this point the coaches will recruit the player and tell them why their school is the right fit for them. A family will then fill out all the necessary applications and financial forms and ideally visit the school. Once the acceptance letters come out on March 10th, families will be able to see which schools accepted them and the amount of scholarship they are awarded. Based on this, the family will decipher all the information they have gathered during the previous few months and make a decision. It could be based on the specific coach, the school’s culture, or the total tuition amount. It is up to each family to determine what school is right for them.
Some families ask me which school their player should attend but I defer. If a player attends any of the schools I have connected them to, they will be in a position to have a successful experience at prep school. But I want the family to feel comfortable with the decision and take agency. The ideal position in my opinion is when a family has a tough decision to make between schools. That means they have great options to choose from!
Do basketball players need to visit a school for a post-grad year?
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If you were going to a prep school for multiple years I would say absolutely. But is it not mandatory for a post-grad year. Most only last around nine months, so it isn’t dire if you can’t make it to the school beforehand. With today’s technology and information, most of these schools have plenty of information and videos on their website and YouTube channel. It is an arms race to get the best at brightest at these schools. They want to put as much on the web for families to make an informed decision in case they can’t visit the campus.
The best time to visit schools is before the basketball season starts. Once that begins it will be hard to get away without missing games and practice. Applications need to be into most schools by January and February. Visiting isn’t a requirement, but it can aid a family’s decision once the acceptance letters come out. Some military schools require a player to visit before they make an offer as the lifestyle there is different than other schools.
Can international players do a post grad year?
International basketball players can do a post grad year. They will need to have graduated high school in their home country and not be older than a school or league’s age limit. If the player is coming from a country that does not have English as its official language they will have to prove their language aptitude via a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test or video interview with an admissions official. The reason for this is that the schools want the player to succeed when they arrive. If the player does not speak English it will make the year that much more difficult both on the court and in the classroom. If the player speaks English, has graduated and has the skill set that the basketball coach wants then he will be very attractive to a prep school. Each school will have a different set of financial requirements. Some give aid to international players while others save that for domestic students only. It depends on multiple factors and I can help you determine if this option makes sense.
How PREP Athletics can help basketball players find the right fitting post-grad program
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As explained above, this can be an overwhelming process. Which institutions are prep schools and which are academies? How much does this school cost? Is this school just need based or merit based? What style best fits a player’s style on the court? Who has had success getting players placed? What is the personality of each school’s coach? What is the school and team’s culture? Figuring all this out can be very stressful for families especially since the common goal is to get an athletic scholarship which can be worth over six figures.
This is where I can help. I went to a prep school to complete a post-grad year in 1995. I know first-hand how the experience is and how I benefited. I have been placing players since 2008 into all different types of prep schools around the country depending on their specific needs. I only focus on placing players into prep schools. Not AAU teams, nor colleges. I have visited over 100 programs throughout the years and have spent time watching many of these teams in action. I can help your family navigate all of these schools quickly once I know your goals and complete profile. My relationship with these coaches will also give me quick feedback on which schools are truly interested in your child. I will tell you the pros and cons of each school and why I chose it for your player. Once the acceptance letters come out I will guide you through choosing the right school and in some instances negotiate you a lower tuition rate. Prep schools want certain students and will match another school’s offer in order to get them.
I also love doing this. My cousin Brad Miller attended a prep school for his senior year of high school. This led to a scholarship to Purdue University then a 13-year NBA career. He credits his year at prep school for making his dream of playing in the NBA a reality. The coaching he received and the competition he played against helped him contribute immediately in college and win Co-Big 10 Freshman of the Year honors. Our family’s trajectory has changed due to prep schools. Completing a post-grad year was the best path for me to have taken in order to reach my goal of playing at the US Air Force Academy.
I started PREP Athletics to help families fulfill their dreams. I only take on clients that I feel can benefit from this path. I am upfront with families on the player’s potential and whether or not I can help them find a good fitting school. Many coaches and family members will suck up to a player to not hurt their feelings. I believe in speaking the truth to a player early. They can either sink from the criticism or rise to do all they can to reach their dreams. I remember the stress of trying to get scholarship offers. It is a challenging time in a young player’s life. But I have seen many players put in the work on and off the court in order to reach their dreams.