Athletic Information

5 Quick Tips to Help You Land a Scholarship

By Alan Stein


In my 10 years as a basketball strength coach I have been fortunate enough to have worked with hundreds of high school players who have gone on to play college basketball. These players have gone to schools ranging from Division III to major Division I. It is important to understand that only a very small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of kids who play high school basketball are fortunate enough to play in college, and an even smaller percentage play on scholarship. The competition is fierce!

If you are 7-foot, a scholarship will probably find you. If you play for a nationally renowned high school or AAU program, a scholarship will probably find you. But what if you don’t? What if you are one of the millions of kids across the world of average size, decent skill level, and a ton of heart? Do you have a chance? YES.

Here are five tips on how you can improve your chances of attaining a basketball scholarship:

Be an outstanding student. Being a great student expands the ranges of schools you can attend and shows a coach you are committed to excellence and are organized and disciplined enough to handle college academics and playing ball. Unless you are a bona fide All-American, coaches are tired of taking “risks” on kids who are poor students. This is the first question every coach asks.

Be a great teammate. Every coach I have ever talked too looks to recruit players that are coachable and who get along with their teammates. No one wants a jerk. Be the teammate everyone loves to play with because you are unselfish, are committed to team goals, and raise the level of those around you. Don’t take for granted how important enthusiasm is. Being a great teammate can raise your stock tremendously! I have seen players lose a coach’s interest because of bad body language or acting like a jerk when they don’t agree with a foul call or when they come out of the game. Before college coaches ask me to evaluate a player’s athletic ability, they always ask, “Is he a good guy?” “Do you like working with him?”

If you can’t, don’t. Stick to what you do best and play to your strengths. Stop doing what you think coaches want to see. If you aren’t a great 3-point shooter, STOP SHOOTING 3′s! Coaches want players who know, understand, and accept their role. Nothing can lose a scholarship faster than trying to show off for a coach during a practice or a game. All you are doing is exposing your weaknesses!

Do the little things. Contrary to what most high school players think, it is NOT all about scoring. To play college basketball, you need to do the little things that make a big difference like: have good footwork, know how to set screens, box out, share the ball, communicate, play solid defense, dive for loose balls, work hard, and be a leader on and off the court. These things alone will separate you from 95 percent of the players who are your size and skill level. The little things can earn you a big scholarship!

Maximize your ability. You can’t control your height, and certainly some folks are born “more athletic” than others. But you can make sure you are as strong as you can be and in as good of basketball shape as is humanly possible. You should be on a year-round strength and conditioning program and work on your ball handling and shooting daily. College players do this stuff year round. Do you?

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NCAA Eligibility

*Register With the NCAA

It used to be called the NCAA clearinghouse, but now it’s the NCAA Eligibility Center that students must register with to validate their status as an amateur athlete.  (This is to ensure an athlete isn’t secretly playing point guard for the LA Lakers during their high school career.)

The process is relatively pain-free; all you need is $50 and a Social Security number. But don’t leave it to the last minute. Every year a few student athletes miss out on the chance to play collegiately, because they fail to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center.

Quick Tip: Register with the NCAA by your junior year.

The NCAA Eligibility Center is responsible for determining the eligibility of every college-bound student-athlete in NCAA Divisions I and II using the following two areas:

  • Academic Certification.  Does the college-bound student-athlete meet the legislated minimum academic requirements?
  • Amateurism Certification.  Has the college-bound student-athlete jeopardized his or her amateur status?

Initial-Eligibility Overview: Academics

  • Academic:  initial-eligibility requirements are different for each of the three divisions.
  • It is possible for a college-bound student-athlete to be eligible in one division and not another.

NCAA Division I Academic Requirements

  • In order to practice, compete and receive institutional financial aid as a freshman, a student-athlete must:
    • Graduate from high school;
    • Earn a minimum required grade-point average (GPA) in 16 approved core courses; and
    • Earn a combined SAT or ACT sum score that matches the core-course GPA (refer to the “sliding scale” in the NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete.

NCAA Division II Academic Requirements

  • In order to practice, compete and receive institutional financial aid as a freshman, a student-athlete must:
    • Graduate from high school;
    • Earn at least a 2.0 GPA in 14 approved core courses; and
    • Earn a combined SAT score of at least 820 (critical reading and math) or an ACT sum score of at least 68.
  • No sliding scale for Division II

* Beginning August 1, 2013, students planning to attend an NCAA Division II institution will be required to complete 16 core courses.

NCAA Division III Academic Requirements

  • Unlike Divisions I and II, there is no uniform set of eligibility requirements for Division III schools.
  • Eligibility for admission, financial aid, practice and competition is determined by the institution.

Resource Downloads

Glossary of Basketball Recruiting Terms


College recruiting is a process that deserves its own dictionary. So here it is.

If you’re trying to become a college basketball player, chances are you will hear words like “dead period” or “letter of intent” or “unofficial visit” throughout the journey. It’s common lingo for those who have been around the recruiting world. But the truth is, young basketball players usually aren’t recruited more than once. It’s a new process for almost everybody, so don’t feel like you’re behind the 8-ball just because you don’t understand everything.

The NCAA recently defined several terms that are widely used in recruiting. Here’s a look at the recruiting process from start to finish, and some unfamiliar terms you might come across along the way:

Initial Interest

Prospective Student-Athlete: When a student enters ninth grade. It also applies when, before a student’s ninth-grade year, a college gives the student, the student’s relatives or their friends any financial aid or other benefits that the college does not generally provide to prospective students.

Contact: When a coach has any face-to-face contact with a prospective student-athlete or the prospect’s parents off the college’s campus and says more than hello. A contact also occurs if a coach has any contact with the prospective student-athlete or his or her parents at the prospective student-athlete’s high school or any location where the prospect is engaging in competition or practice.

Evaluation: An activity by a coach to evaluate a prospective student-athlete’s academic or athletics ability. This would include visiting the prospective student-athlete’s high school or watching the prospect practice or compete.

Recruiting Calendar Terms

Quiet Period: The college coach may not have any in-person contact with you or your parents off the college’s campus. The coach cannot watch you play or visit your high school during this period.

Contact Period: The college coach can talk to you or your family on or off campus, and can watch you play.

Dead Period: The college coach cannot have any in-person contact with you. However, the coach can write you or call you on the phone.

Evaluation Period: The college coach can watch you play or visit your high school, but can’t talk to you off the college’s campus.

Visiting a School

Official Visit: A prospective student-athlete’s visit to a college campus paid for by the college. The college can pay for transportation to and from the college, room and meals (three per day) while visiting and reasonable entertainment expenses, including three complimentary admissions to a home athletics contest. NCAA recruiting bylaws limit the number of official visits a recruit may take to five.

Unofficial Visit: Any visit by a prospective student-athlete and their parents to a college campus paid for by the prospective student-athlete or the prospect’s parents. The only expense the prospective student-athlete can receive from the college is three complimentary admissions to a home athletics contest. The prospect may make as many visits as he or she likes and may take the visits at any time. The only time the prospective student-athlete cannot talk with a coach during an unofficial visit is during a dead period.

Picking a School

Verbal Commitment: A college-bound student-athlete’s commitment to a school before he or she is able to sign a National Letter of Intent. A college-bound student-athlete can announce a verbal commitment at any time. Verbal commitments are popular, but they are not binding to either the student-athlete or the school.

National Letter of Intent: The document a prospective student-athlete signs when he or she agrees to attend the designated college or university for one academic year. According to the terms of the program, participating institutions agree to provide athletics financial aid for one academic year to the student-athlete, provided he or she is admitted to the institution and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules. An important provision of the National Letter of Intent program is a recruiting prohibition applied after a prospective student-athlete signs a National Letter of Intent. This prohibition requires participating institutions to cease recruitment of a prospective student-athlete once a a National Letter of Intent is signed with another school.