Beyond High School Basketball, Part III - Your Sophomore Year
by Anthony Calderon, publisher
Blackboard Media Group, Inc.
Once upon a time there was a 6'6 power forward with the ability to play ball at any college in the nation. They had the skills, the
stats and the attitude to be a star. Their only mistake was their lack of preparation and the misunderstanding that their game would
pave the road to a college scholarship.
You are now a sophomore, with your freshman year and freshman grades behind you. You have an entire year to do one of three things …
continue on track, try and make up for the things you neglected last year or put things off until you're a junior. You have a choice and
that choice will likely determine your basketball and/or collegiate future. Remember, if you want to play college ball, you can! Don't
stand back and watch other players take their position in the recruiting process ahead of you. Make a stand now and follow the steps
needed to be viable and visible basketball recruit!
GRADES! How was your freshman year? Did you buckle down and map out a 4-year academic plan? Did you take any summer courses to lighten your sophomore year or enroll in advance classes you qualify for? Hmm … let's say you did. GOOD JOB! If not, you need to regroup, formulate a plan and stick to it. When your teachers tell you that good grades are critical in attending college, this includes you! Athletes with great skills and poor grades can be found playing hoop in local playgrounds, just before their shift at the Burger Barn. Don't' let this be you! An extra hour a night to prepare for class or put a complete spin on a paper due next week is what it will take to set you apart from someone else looking for the same position on the same team as you.
If you are already taking care of business and have a plan in place … stick with it. Make sure you plan allows for the unexpected and never put off something that you can do now. You never know what next year will bring, so always be prepared. Look at top schools and how stringent their admission standards are. If you have your heart set on a Princeton, Brown or a Military Academy, realize that your grades will play a bigger role than your athletic ability. Contact the coach(s) and ask them what standards are in place for incoming athletes and what you can do now to prepare.
INVOLVEMENT! If you are not already involved in outside activities, it is time to start. It doesn't have to be fancy or overly time consuming, but you should find something you are interested in or you will hate doing it regardless of the time you spend at it. Some ideas … student council, homeless shelters, internships, advocacy groups … anything that interests you.
SPORTS! The best thing you can do this year is improve. The best way to improve is to practice. Spend 30 minutes every day developing your fundamentals; increase your free throw percentage or watch game video of John Stockton or Lisa Leslie. The idea is to develop a solid foundation so that you make the most of your regular practice. Conditioning Tip: Full court lay-ups. Fourth quarter burn-out can make everything you did in the first three quarters forgettable. Build your conditioning by playing ball against yourself or defenders at both ends. Build into what is comfortable for you, but not too comfortable. Don't go into this cold or without proper shoes. The last thing you want are shin splints. Massage your legs properly before and after this exercise.
DIET! As part of your sports training, make sure you maintain a healthy diet. Regardless of how many times you've heard it … it still stands true. A healthy diet creates a healthy individual. A healthy individual will make a better athlete. Lay off the fast foods; find something else to snack on besides chips; and for goodness sakes, stop drinking sodas! Your body's primary ingredient is water. When you sweat, you sweat water (and salt). Your body can survive without food a lot longer than it can survive without water. IT IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT CHANGE YOU CAN MAKE IN YOUR DIET. As an athlete, you should be drinking between 6 and 10 large glasses of water a day - more during workouts and summer. For every soda you drink, you deplete your body of one glass of water. Drink one soda a day and you will need to add one more glass of water. Drink two … and you get the idea.
Talk to a sport's intuitionalist and ask them how to improve your performance level. If one is not available, drop into a local health food store and talk to someone there. People are willing to help if you just ask.
COLLEGES! You've had a year to dive deeper into the recruiting process and research the types of colleges and basketball programs that would best suit your talents, grades and goals. If you haven't done your research … then now is the time. Pick up a copy of The Ultimate Sports Recruiting Guide (www.blackboardmedia.com or www.amazon.com) and use the information provided to determine which schools would best suit you as a student and athlete.
There are nearly 1,000 NCAA men's and women's basketball programs in the country, 300 plus NAIA and a Junior College in every city. Hopefully you have your 100 choices from your freshman year. Now it's time to reduce that number to 60. How many you choose to pursue will greatly increase your chances of finding a program and school that's right for you. Look at schools outside your comfort zone; schools that cost a lot of money (we'll talk about how to find money for that school later); military programs; Division I, II, II, NAIA and JCs. Whatever you do, DO NOT limit yourself to schools in your back yard, schools on the California coast or the single school you've dreamt about since you were three years old.
First, determine your criteria … for example:
Send an email out to every coach and reintroduce yourself as a sophomore and someone worth listening to. Tell them why they are your top choice (by the way, everyone is your TOP choice), and what you are doing to prepare yourself for college. Ask them questions about how they recruit, what they look for and what positions they will be recruiting your senior year.
- 20,000 + enrollment
- Mild climate
- Top 25 university (this will kill off a bunch of your 60 choices)
- Minimum GPA requirement of 3.2 or above
- Strong financial aid program
- Basketball program that places within the top 3 within its division
Make notes in your folder and keep track of who you talk to and what they said in your Sports Recruiting Guide (www.blackboardmedia.com). Keeping an up-to-date log is critical in making sure you are keeping up with your recruiting.
PREPARE! You should have begun your research last year. If you are behind or just didn't get to it, then now is the time to start. DO NOT put it off until next week or next year! Grab your recruiting guide and look at which schools and basketball programs fit your needs. Write down the pros and cons of each; go to the school's website and look through their courses, their academic accomplishments and their basketball program. Find your area of academic interest and email a professor or a department head. Talking first hand with people who are on campus day in and day out is one of the best ways you can find out what life is like on that campus.
Don't let the time commitment scare you. For only 15 minutes a night, you can take control of your future and ultimately decide a big part of your future.
RECRUITING! Once you have narrowed down your 100 schools/programs to 60, it is time to take action. By now you have sent letters to coaches and most likely gotten a response. Start this year out by introducing yourself again, be polite and don't beat around the bush. It is your job to make sure they see you! Things to do:
SUMMARY OF YOUR SOPHOMORE YEAR!
- Write an email and express your continued interest in their school/program. Tell the coach about yourself both on and off court. Finish it off with a picture of yourself to put a face with a name. Make sure to personalize each email with "Dear Coach Bash" and I am very interested in learning more about the "University of Bashville". Make each letter look as if it is tailored to that particular coach. Mentioned something personal about their program in the first paragraph … like how well they played last year or how you really enjoyed their game against Fish University. Like any one else, coaches want to think that their school is your first choice. If you point out they are number 5 on your list, your chances of getting any interest are slime. Send off an email about every other month; once a month during season … just to let them know how you are doing or congratulating them on a recent win.
- Did you know you can phone a college coach anytime you'd like? NCAA rules state that a college coach cannot phone you until after your junior year, but it does not state you cannot call them. Emails are great (and cheap), but they can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Give your favorite programs a call (most will have an 800 number) and introduce yourself. If you had time to watch one of their games, point out a particular play you liked or how you are working on a pass sequence you saw. This will tell the coach you agree with, or at least understand his or her style of play and would therefore fit perfectly within his or her program. Don't call too often and become a telephone stalker. Keep the phone calls to around three per year.
- Talk to your high school coach and let him or her know of your intensions. Although you are ultimately responsible, your coach is an important resource that will be very helpful throughout the process. If they know your intensions up front, they are more likely to be there for you when you need them most.
- If at all possible, avoid recruiting companies that make promises of scholarships for a low fee. Although there are some good ones out there, most will charge you an exuberant amount of money to do the same thing you can do yourself for a fraction of the cost. An exception is Online College Network (www.onlinecollegenetwork.com). They DO NOT charge you a thing. You can put your athletic and academic information on their vast network which is available to colleges across the country. If you haven't already, go to their site and look around … it is certainly worth your time.
- Purchase The Ultimate Sports Recruiting Guide – M/W Basketball
- Make sure you are on a solid academic plan. Talk to your school counselor.
- Review your college choices with your high school or club coach. Their experience offers a lot of insight to what road to take.
- Study and maintain a 3.0 GPA or above
- Get involved in outside activities
- Improve your basketball fundamentals with nightly tasks
- Maintain a healthy and athletic diet
- Choose 60 schools/programs to research
- Contact college coaches via email, US Mail or telephone
- Have fun!
Back to Part Two
Back to Part One
author: Anthony Calderon, publisher
Blackboard Media Group, Inc.
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