One thing that needs to also be pointed out is what level of program should you attend. I’d say 99% of players that sign a division one scholarship have dreams of playing professional at some level. Most will say they want to be the next Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant , but some want to maybe play 5-10 years in Europe and make a career for themselves. When its time to start considering schools honesty must come into the picture. It’s every player’s dream to sign with a big school from the ACC,Big East, or Big 10 and be on National TV every week and having that character Dick Vitale screaming their name to the 5 million people watching. The question that you must answer is this particular school the right fit for me. The definition of the right fit is will that coach give you enough time to develop and play through mistakes to be the best player that you can be.
At the age of 17-18 its hard to say no to signing a scholarship with a top 20 school without question. Also at that age it is hard to settle with signing at a school at the mid major level because of its stature in basketball. Lets be honest you’d rather tell people wow I just signed with The University of Virginia, rather than tell them that you signed with Virginia Commonwealth. It’s the society that we live in today that people consider social stature before making decisions. Most of us fall victims of it at one point of time, especially in our adolescent years. Its this decision process that destroys the experience of playing college basketball for at least 25% of college basketball players every year.
When a college coach signs a recruiting class of say 5 players in a single year their first 2 players are their focus on their recruiting board. If those players weren’t top on their list they are probably in their top 3 at that position. Those are their franchise guys that in staff meetings they dreamed about getting time and time again. They will play major minutes as a freshman, at very least by the time conference play starts in January. The next player or two won’t play much their first year, but after 3 of their seniors graduate they will see time by their sophomore season. The loser in most cases is the 5th player to sign in their recruiting class. This is the player that they looked at for the first three years in high school and didn’t think he was good enough, but had a very good summer playing in Vegas and Orlando as well as a good showing his senior year. They figure maybe he can be an insurance policy for injury, transfer, or graduation.
I don’t understand why more players and coaches look down on Mid Major programs. Obviously you can look to the recent success of Butler and VCU and see that there is some really good basketball to be played there. Obviously if you are a top 75-100 player, sure high major is the way to go. You’ve proved that you for the most part dominate your peers and can succeed at that level. But for the player that is somewhere in the 200-300 range that has been for the most part getting mid major looks the most dangerous thing that can happen is to get high major looks late in their recruitment. Sure there are players that come out of nowhere that weren’t very highly rated sign with a high major late and become an NBA player or have great success in college. But for the most part players who are mid major players that sign late with high major schools usually never get into the rotation in their four years at that school. With all of the pressure to win, high major schools don’t really have a lot of time to wait around for players to develop. At a lot of the major programs they’ll bring in multiple McDonalds All Americans in back to back classes sometimes even at the same positions. Basically putting them in a closet and having them fight their way out of it. It’s the way of the world the strong will survive and I don’t necessarily have issues with that. If you are a top 25-50 player in the country you shouldn’t run away from a challenge of another player in the same talent range as you competing for your spot. If you are any kind of player or competitor you should be able to keep your spot.
This blog post isn’t about that level of player. It’s about the player who should be at a mid major school . Why should you sign at that level you ask?? For the most part they will give you the time to develop and the playing time needed to play through mistakes and learn. Don’t get me wrong it is great to sign with a Big East,Big 12, or Big 10 program. You get to compete in practice against some of the top players in the country. This will definitely make you better without question, but the coaches of these programs have a moral obligation to look for the best talent in the country and sign it to their institution in which they work for. You may be making strides, but that’s not going to stop them from signing a Prep School phenom out of Brewster Academy in New Hampshire that happens to play your position. After two years of working your ass off you think that you are turning the corner and they sign that guy basically destroying any hopes of playing.
At a mid major school you can be that big fish in a small pond that your coaches build their program around. They will understand the growing pains that it takes to develop your position and also know that in a year from now you have a chance to be a first or second team all conference. By the time you are a junior and senior you’ll have a shot at conference player of the year. The feeling of being wanted is so important to a player. A sense that you belong and a knowing your coaches appreciate you being at their school and will do everything in their power to make you a great player. The confidence level of players in this position are through the roof. To have most of the plays drawn up for you as well as having the ball in your hands in crunch time for a 3-4 year period is so important for the development of players. I don’t think enough players understand the importance of this. Not to say that if you are the fifth player to sign at a high major school is the wrong thing to do. Some players in this position earn their time and at some point of their career become rotation players and even starters on their team that definitely can happen. I just see so many times where players have great offers from great mid major programs and decide to try to walk on or take the late scholarship with hopes and dreams of starting and having a chance to be a professional basketball player.
I’m not trying to make this into a story on players should sign with a school based on how it will help you be a pro. All this is about is every player has a level where they belong. Some players will be great at any level. Some need extra time to develop but will be a very good player in time. Some will never be a factor and will be a bench player their whole lives. It’s up to them to find out where they belong. What I am saying is you only for the most part have one time in your life where you will be recruited. Take the time to research the best place for you. A lot of players think you have to be on ESPN to have a chance at someday playing in the NBA. I did some research and found out of all NBA rosters there are currently 39 players from mid major schools playing on NBA teams. To go one step further since the year 2000 there were 8 NBA All – Stars attended mid major schools.
I’m a firm believer for competing and fighting for everything that you get. Every school no matter if its high major , mid major, low major, or small college (division 2/3/NAIA/JUCO) needs to have star players, role players, and bench players. I’m not telling people to transfer from their school if they don’t play. The idea behind this was to tell players that when making a college choice think long and hard about the your decision. Make sure the level of school that you are going to choose is the level in which you can thrive and develop at. So many players make decisions based on the names in front of the jersey and their stature rather what’s best for you. There is no guarantee even if you decide to go a lower level that it will workout either. All I am saying is that a basketball career is so fragile. Some players need the extra time and support to become the best player that they can be. Some levels and programs have the time to see you though your mistakes and some don’t. Players need confidence and the support from their coaches and some can do it by being super tough and competitive and don’t need support. All players and programs are different. Take the time to decide as these are the four of the best years of your life. You need to learn early in life that when you make decisions on anything they have to be the ones that benefit your skill sets the most. This may mean traveling on the path that is the one least traveled. This decision that is best is the one that in the end benefits you and your family the best.