People like guarantees, warranties, and insurance because it gives peace of mind when making a purchase or decision. The same holds true for the basketball world. Families hire PREP Athletics to help them narrow down their choices from over one hundred prep schools to the right fitting three to five. From there if a family choose any of those options they will be in a solid position. But which one is the right one?

My tried and true advice to families is to choose a prep school based on the player’s relationship to the coach. I have seen players choose a school because of the beautiful athletic facilities, dorms, dining halls, academic reputation and more. But if the relationship to the coach is not there then none of this matter. There are also less elite prep schools where the coach has meant so much to the player where the other details didn’t matter.

Weighing Your Options

Sometimes families are torn between multiple schools and have a hard time choosing the right fit, as both options are ideal. If the choice is for a post-grad year, I compare the process to a highly rated high school player. They are likely going to be ‘one and done’, choosing between blue bloods like Duke, UK, Kansas, Arizona and UConn. They cannot go wrong if they pick any of these schools as they will be drafted the following year. But what do they want their experience for those nine months to look like? Same for prep schools. Players will get placed at a college for the following year but what experience do they want for their nine months?

Families ask about playing time, number of players at a position, competition, potential politics, returning players, development etc. Coaches and I can share this info with them, but a lot will be determined when stepping onto the court for that first Fall open gym session. When players show up on campus 70% are at the playing level that a prep school coach expected. 15% are better than projected and 15% are worse.  Most coaches don’t guarantee playing time for this reason. They don’t know who will get minutes until these players have a few months under their watchful eyes. This can make it difficult for a family wanting to choose a school where their player will actually play.

Making the Call

So how do you make sense of all this and what do you do?  Always revert back to what I said above. Do as much due diligence as possible, talk to previous players at your position who played for this prep school coach, find out how many players in your position are on the team, and take a leap. Most instance in life will not come with 100% guarantee. The only thing that is, according to an old quote is “death and taxes.” Players are betting on themselves.

I have seen players bump up levels and get D1 scholarships. I have seen players stay at the same collegiate level. And I have seen a player or two each year decide they no longer want to put in the work needed to play at the collegiate level. This is a real-life gamble.  I can promise that no matter what the outcome is, that a player will grow during their time at a prep school. They will be readier to contribute at a college program and within the school. There is no crystal ball. But then again, what fun would that be!

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