A lot of parents ask me which camps their child should attend. This is a great question because there are so many out there. A lot of them claim that they will rank you and college coaches will show up. But who is ranking you and who values those rankings besides the parents paying for the camp? And what schools are represented by a coach?
The first characteristic you want to look for in a camp is to see if it is NCAA certified. Here is what the NCAA says about this:
The Basketball Certification process provides activity operators who agree to operate their activities in accordance with the applicable legislation and certification requirements the opportunity to receive League Certification to allow the participation of Division I student-athletes and/or Event Certification to allow NCAA Division I coaches to attend and observe prospective student-athletes who are participating in the activity. Event Certification has a post-event requirement as well.
This translates into “these events are more legitimate than ones that aren’t certified.”
Secondly you want to find a camp that focuses on fundamentals. Everybody wants to play games. It is more fun and less work. Coaches prefer it too. It is more fun and less work. But the game is built on fundamentals. Without those you won’t go very far. Camps that still teach the fundamentals of the game are not always the most fun, but they are the most beneficial. Especially if they employ good coaches. (Beware if the camp has too many current players as counselors.)
Try to learn one new skill at each camp. I learned how to properly shoot free throws at Tennessee Tech’s camp when I was in 9th grade. I perfected the pick and roll at Marietta College’s camp in the mid-80s. I learned some of Kevin McHale’s techniques at the Cumberland College Big Man camp. You don’t need to go to a University of Kentucky or Kansas University camp. While these are high profile programs they stereotypically are money makers for the coaches and autograph time for the kids and parents. When you do attend a camp ask a lot of questions. Ask coaches for tips and ask college players how they got to that level. One of the highlights of camps are guest speakers. This was always a thrill. Hearing how these speakers got to the level they did is almost always inspirational.
Another camp to be cautious about is a University’s Elite Camp. These camps are good for a certain number of players. If a school is recruiting you and you like the school, this is a great chance to perform in front of all the coaches at once. You will see their style and they will see your work ethic and skills. You will get to see the campus and facilities and they don’t have to pay for an official visit. For other campers it is a money maker for the program. While the staff will promise elite coaching and exposure, the coaches are truly just there looking at the guys already on their radar. This doesn’t mean you can’t make an impression, but just know it is going to be tough. If you want coaches to see you go to a camp where more than one staff will be there.
Finally, if you want to attend a camp where you will be playing in front of college coaches, you need to do it at an NCAA certified camp during a live period. There are only certain dates of the year that coaches can watch a player in person. These dates correspond to camps and AAU events. Be sure to check the following link for the 2016 live and dead periods. http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/resources/recruiting-calendars/
So buyer beware, and do you due diligence when researching camps for your child. Just remember that camp is an investment in a player.