November 11, 2015 was the early signing day for college basketball. This is the day where teams such as Duke and Kentucky fill out their roster with top 100 prospects. But what happens to the seniors who did not sign with a Division I program? Should they give up on their Division I dreams? What should they do?
Recruiting is evolving and fortunately for many seniors, these changes could work to their benefit. To understand what these players should do, it is important to understand these changes.
- The new NCAA eligibility standards. Beginning in 2016, there will be a “2.3 or take a knee” rule. Now, players must have a 2.3 GPA in their core classes in order to be eligible to play Division I basketball. Some estimate that this regulation would cause up to 25% of current and future student athletes to be ineligible.
- Players are transferring. Transferring is an epidemic in college basketball. According to Verbal Commits, in 2015, there were upwards of 300 Division I transfers with 27% of them transferring Division II. For most programs, if a player decides to transfer it would allow for a scholarship opportunity for someone else.
- The NCAA is tightening the rope on elite high schools. Although most elite high schools follow NCAA regulations, some elite high schools have not followed NCAA academic protocol. This could result in players being declared ineligible, or in some cases school closure.
The seniors preparing for their final high school basketball season should not panic just yet. There is still an opportunity to play Division I basketball. However, having a great senior season may not earn that scholarship. If you are a senior looking to play college basketball, but have not signed, you need to understand the available options at your disposal.
- DII, DIII, NAIA. Division I basketball is not your only option. There is absolutely no shame in going DII, DIII, or NAIA. It is a privilege to continue your basketball career, and these options need to be seriously considered. But understand, these programs want the best available players, Division I caliber players if possible. They follow seniors very closely.
- Junior College. Junior colleges (Community Colleges) are the safety choice for players who will not qualify. It is not the only option, but if a player chooses an elite junior college program, it could lead to a DI scholarship (at the cost of two years of eligibility). Note, it is very important to choose an elite junior college in order to receive desired exposure. Choose the wrong junior college and it may lead to the end of your basketball career.
- Prep School. Prep school, or taking a fifth year is highly recommended for players who need experience and/or need to buy time to raise their SAT score. Prep schools often play both junior colleges and elite high schools. If you feel as though you just need another year of exposure, prep school may be the best available option. Note, not every prep school is the same, players need to be looking for a post grad program.
- AAU / Showcases. AAU is an option, however, most coaches look for rising seniors during the open period, not graduating seniors. If a player decides to take part in the open period, their best option would be attending unsigned senior showcases and/or juco showcases. Coaches who attend these showcases are looking for players who can play for their program immediately.
Time is ticking. Seniors looking to play collegiate basketball at the Division I level have very little time to make their dream a reality. These next few months will be difficult, but it is not an impossible task. Keep grinding. Make your dream a reality.
Note: For more information regarding prep school please contact our Basketball Finders scout/consultant Sam Rines 610 416 2603.
Highly recommended prep schools in no particular order:
IMG, Rocktop Academy, Elev8, Impact, St.Thomas More, South Kent, Putnam Science, Hargrave Military Academy, Fork Union Military Academy, St. John Military School