Coach Rick From the Sidelines: At the Highest Level
By Rick Lewis
Coach Rick’s “From the Sidelines”
“At the highest level”
If you ask any young prospect who plays basketball, where he would like to play in college, the general response will be, “at the highest level.” Every young player has his or her sights on and dreams of playing D1 basketball. The facts are that there is a limited number of scholarships available and a high number of players worthy of playing at that level. In 2013-14 season, there were 351 D1 schools with the average number of scholarship per year at approximately three. This means there are approximately 1053 D1 scholarships to give out every year. http://www.collegesportsscholarships.com/percentage-high-school-athletes-ncaa-college.htm
According to http://www.collegesportsscholarships.com there are an estimated 546,335 students playing high school basketball, and in any given year, there are 156,096 seniors fighting for college scholarships. This means only .007% of graduating seniors will have an opportunity to play D1 basketball. To further complicate the issue, the vast majority of players hope to play at a higher competitive level than is realistic or appropriate, given their skill level. While it is an ego-based attitude that drives this mindset, most players and parents have it all wrong. We understand the idea of making it big, having the opportunity to play on the big stage, and then get drafted by the NBA, but the chances are less than .00017% that a college basketball player will even be drafted.
The problem is simple: too many people are chasing the dream that they will be in the NBA one day, which is an incredibly difficult journey. For the players that are fortunate to be in the position to have their college education paid for, a different approach and attitude is required.
First of all, all players need to take a step back and ask themselves: What is the best fit both athletically and academically? Where can I attend college and get a degree that will benefit me later on in life?
For the majority of players, the ball will stop bouncing once they finish their four years of college. Instead of looking at the number of games that a college plays on TV, players and parents need to ask about the school’s graduation rate and what kind of jobs the players are getting once they have graduated. Are schools guiding players to inappropriate classes just to ensure they remain eligible? If so, those college coaches are not concerned about your son as a person, but instead, they view him as means to an end, to ensure that they are successful in their own job.
It is no secret that college basketball is big business. High level college head coaches are making anywhere from $250,000 to $7,500,000 annually. Some coaches receive large bonuses based upon their team’s success, such as making trips to the NCAA tournament. You get the picture – college basketball is big business and you, as a player prospect, will be treated as part of that business. It is important for you to understand what is at risk. How often do you see comments from players along the lines of, “The coach that recruited me is not the same as the coach now coaching me.” Remember, the job of the head coach is to sell you on his school and how you can be successful on the basketball court, which is all well and good. However, how many of them actually care about you as a person or as a student athlete? Those are the most important questions to ask.
Parents, when a coach talks about their team GPA, do you ask what classes the players are taking? Probably not! Are those classes going toward a “meaningful” degree that will help your son get a legitimate job once he graduates? Do the coaches want to see your son grow as a young man and develop lifetime skills? Instead of trying to reach the highest level, maybe, just maybe, players and their parents should be more concerned about finding the appropriate fit.
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