Connection and Recruitment
There are several reasons to attend a prep school for a post-grad year. These include better academics, physical/emotional maturation, and athletic development. A large swath of college coaches recruit prep school players due to the superior coaching and competition. Prep school coaches are also connected at every college level. They place players every year from high major to high academic D3s, and everything in between. In the post-Covid landscape a player needs an advocate to get them placed at the next level. In my opinion there are no better advocates than prep school coaches.
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 year at a prep school is where a student athlete can spend nine months improving as a player and 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 as playing at a junior college does. This year is a chance for players to leave home and improve their chances 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. (See my articles/podcasts on basketball academies.) 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 to campus 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 each year to find players because they know the coaching and competition are consistent. 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, but not all. 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 will have schools from other parts of the country to see them. Most offers players get in high school are regional, but leaving your state and going to an East Coast prep school will allow many more potential schools to see you. In the Boston area alone there are thirty-five colleges. Some states don’t even 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. These players 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 require higher academic requirements.
Some players graduate high school young for their grade. They need this extra year to catch up to their peers on the court. This year is about players betting 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/time 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. This year does not guarantee a scholarship. Many D3 level kids do choose to do a post-grad year to expand their options of D3 schools. After a post-grad year they will step into a college setting more likely to contribute their freshman year.
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?
Completing a post-grad year can be accomplished at either a prep school or a basketball 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 for all of their 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 these basketball academies. Check out articles here and here to find out more about the basketball academy world.
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 live period events, and elite camps are vital for being seen by college coaches. Since the prep school coach’s job is to get his players to the next level, he will have a good idea of what level a player is before school begins in the Fall. 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 camps have staff members from multiple colleges and at all levels working them. The prep school coach will also let college programs know of your interest and invite them to the open gyms during the Fall.
Once you arrive at a prep school in the fall you will go through orientation then get into the swing of classes and workouts. A valuable time for players is the open gyms in the fall. These are important as college coaches from all over 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, prep 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!
Since 2021 recruiting has changed. Post pandemic, the transfer portal has blown up and colleges are more frequently choosing established college players over high school aged kids. With this new landscape players need an advocate helping them get placed. There are no better advocates in the US than a prep school coach. You will get placed if you attend one of these prep schools.
How much will a post-grad year cost and how can one pay for it?
The full tuition for most New England prep schools is around $70,000 (2023 prices). As of 2023 IMG Academy has a full tuition of around $85,000. 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 completed. 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 have the option to allocate more merit aid for factors such as how good a player is, how high their grades are, being multilingual, coming from a country or state not represented in the school, or if they are just an interesting kid. An example of this is one of my former clients ran an internet-based clothing line out of his basement. The prep school coach and admission board loved this and gave him a solid financial package.
You need to look at this process from a school’s perspective. They have scores of applications coming in each year. They want the best and brightest. 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. One who is 6’6’’ and taller or already has D1 offers gets coaches excited. Unfortunately, guards are harder to place. There are so many at this position for prep school coaches to choose from, that 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 of the prep school world. Basketball is not a fair sport.
Prep schools have a few options for paying tuition. Most prep schools will require half of the tuition before school starts and the remaining balance before the beginning of the second semester. Some do accept payment plans and can also guide families to banks that offer student loans.
When I first talk to a family about a post-grad year, I ask what the maximum amount they are willing to invest 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 the player’s goals. Once I have the total profile of a player I will go through my database of schools and pick out five to ten that would be ideal for this particular player. I then reach out to these school’s coaches on the player’s behalf. A player will eventually have between two to five schools interested in them. At this point the families and me discuss each option and decide which schools to apply to.
A family will then complete all the necessary applications and financial aid forms. If they can they will ideally visit these schools. 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 prep schools have rolling admissions and can let a player know if they are accepted and at what price in a matter of weeks.
Some families ask me which school I think their child should attend. I always defer on this question. 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?
back to topIf you were going to a prep school for multiple years I would say absolutely. But is it not mandatory for a post-grad year. A post-grad year only lasts 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 information on the internet 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 for a player 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 absolutely 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, most schools will require that they will have to prove their language aptitude via a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or Duolingo test. Schools also conduct video interviews to assess a potential student’s English proficiency. 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 prep 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 basketball 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 in college basketball programs? What is the personality of each prep school’s coach? What is the school and team’s culture? Figuring all this out can be very stressful for families.
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. At the time of this writing I have placed players into over fifty different prep schools. My only focus is placing players into prep schools. I don’t do placement for AAU teams or college programs. I have visited over 100 prep schools throughout the years and have spent time watching many of these teams in action. I can help your family navigate all of these schools once I know their goals and the player’s complete profile. My relationship with these prep school coaches ensure that they will give me quick feedback on which programs are truly interested in your child. I will tell you the pros and cons of each school and why I chose it as an option for your player. Once the acceptance letters come out I will guide you through choosing the right school and in some instances help you negotiate a lower tuition rate. Prep schools want certain students and will on occasion match another school’s financial offer in order to get them.
I also love helping families through this process!. My cousin Brad Miller attended a prep school for his senior year of high school. This led to him receiving a scholarship to Purdue University then a 14-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 in order to reach my goal of playing in a D1 program 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.