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6 Common Mistakes High School Players Make During the Recruiting Process

by Pat Freeman, on Jan 31, 2018 11:36:03 AM

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This article is the 2nd of a series from Pat Freeman of our partners at Midwest 3 on 3. We are very fortunate to work with Pat as he has tremendous experience within basketball training and coaching.

You can check out different basketball drills from Pat in the Dish Lab here! Also, read his 1st post: 8 Ways to be a Great Teammate.


Over the past 10 years I have been fortunate to go through the recruiting process with a number of players at the Division 1, 2, and 3 level.

Here’s what I found to be some common mistakes kids make during the recruiting process.

1. The odds are not in your favor

Many kids think they are better than they really are. If your friends, AAU coach, or trainer says you can play division 1 basketball that doesn’t necessarily mean you are a division 1 player. Have an honest conversation with influential people in your life that you wholeheartedly trust including your high school coach.

The odds: Realize that 3.4% of high school basketball players play NCAA division 1, 2 or 3 basketball. Just 1.0% of high school basketball players will play division 1 basketball (ncaa.org). Many players have the mindset, “D1 or bust.” That’s a great goal to have but be sure to keep as many options available as you can while going through the process. There is nothing wrong with D2, D3 or any other level of college basketball. Sometimes kids get too caught up in what level instead of finding the right fit where the coach believes in you.

2. Do your homework

Do your own research on the basketball program, coach, and team.  What’s their style of play, personality, and team culture? Ask them questions. Go watch a practice, get to a game, or listen to the pre-game or half-time speech. Get to know the players on the team – do you feel comfortable around them? If you had a serious injury, can you still see yourself going to that school without basketball as an option? You will spend the majority of your time with your teammates so getting along with them is paramount. Also ask yourself, does the college provide a degree that interests you? Is this a good fit academically? Seek to understand what’s important to you and ask yourself these questions!

3. Have a plan

You should know the answers to these questions before enrolling: Will I be okay going to a school farther away from home? Am I okay redshirting or not playing much as a freshman? Who are the players in my position ahead of me? What areas of my game do I need to improve before I get to college?  Realize where the team is at now and anticipate where they are going. Often times that is hard to predict. But consider this: Would you rather be the “go-to” player on a bad team or a role player on a great team? As you narrow down your list of schools, be honest with the coaches recruiting you. Coaches hear the words “no” all the time. If you know a certain school doesn’t interest you, thank them for their time and let them know you are going in a different direction.

4. Highlight films?

Personally I think highlight films are overrated. Most college coaches don’t see much value from them because anyone can make themselves look good in a highlight film. College coaches prefer to watch full games observing things like: ATTITUDE, character, effort, toughness, body language, how you treat your teammates, coaches and referees, etc.

5. Just because I’m good, coaches should recruit me.

Not true. If you are a liability academically and don’t take care of your grades, coaches won’t recruit you. If you have bad body language or have a selfish mindset, coaches won’t recruit you. Coaches are VERY particular in the players they recruit. They look for selfless players that put the TEAM first in all situations. A lot of players can score 20+ points per game but it’s the little things that set you apart – how are you distinguishing yourself from the competition?

6. The illusion of playing time.

Many players don’t realize how difficult it is to play right away at any college level. The collegiate game is MUCH more physical and faster than a high school game. Practices are more intense and demanding and it’s not an easy adjustment for most post-high school players. Freshman recruits who arrive in great physical and mental shape will help increase their chances to get on the court sooner than later.


Make sure to pass this article onto any players, parents, or coaches that may find this valuable! There are a ton of different factors that play into the recruiting process and we appreciate Pat sharing his inside view at what happens. 

Also, please feel free to leave a comment below on your thoughts on the recruiting process. Did we miss any mistakes? 

For countless basketball drills and workouts featuring Dr. Dish basketball shooting machines, click here. And as we always say, make sure to train hard, train smart, and train with a purpose. Let's get it, baby!

Topics:Basketball RecruitingHigh School Basketball

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