Prep schools are highly competitive, highly successful at placing their athletes in college, and transforming high school basketball as we know it. It is no secret that the ‘prep circuit’ is the most elite level of high school basketball, but what is prep school and how is it relevant to grassroots basketball?
Prep schools are no longer boarding schools for the rich, they are schools that focus narrowly on academics and athletics. While a normal prep school prepares their students for college, a basketball prep school prepares their students to become college athletes. Before one can understand what this means to grassroots basketball, he or she must understand the difference between the two main types of prep schools.
Postgraduate Prep School: The main reason for a player to attend a postgraduate prep school is to have an additional opportunity to qualify and/or receive the college exposure that he or she did not receive in high school or AAU. The NCAA allows, “college-bound student-athletes who graduate on-time to take one core course during the year after they graduate high school” (NCAA). Although this additional year counts as one of the five years a player has to play Division I basketball, it is an advantageous for student athletes who need to progress mentally, academically (via an additional core class and/or by increasing a SAT/ACT score) or athletically (via developing physically and/or building upon an athlete’s basketball skills).
High School Prep: High School Prep is private/boarding schools that play against the best competition in the country. In the past, players would repeat the grade at their local private schools, however, the NCAA restricted ‘repeaters’ by requiring that all student athletes complete 16 core courses in four years beginning their freshman year, 10 of which must be completed before they begin their senior year. Now, high school basketball, similar to AAU basketball, is rewarding scholarships to athletes that are competing at the highest level, in this case, the ‘prep circuit.’
Prep School is becoming a more recognized and acceptable route for student athletes who want to play basketball at the collegiate level. As the exposure gap grows in AAU basketball, so will the gap between prep school basketball and high school basketball. Sam Rines, head scout at Basketball Finders and former prep school coach at Rise Academy (produced Delon Wright and Kyle Kuzma), states, “prep school basketball is the EYBL of high school basketball. Sneaker deals are coming into play. Elite players are playing at this level. Unless a high school player is winning and/or is attending a traditional ‘basketball school,’ he may not receive as many opportunities to receive a basketball scholarship.”
Questions and Answers with Sam Rines (@CoachSamRines):
Q: How else does prep school benefit players?
A: It’s a resume builder. When you play teams at that level and do well, coaches notice. For players who need exposure and/or another year to mature, this level of competition can be the difference between receiving a scholarship and not receiving a scholarship. However, understand it only means something if you are receiving playing time.
Q: Is there any advice for players considering attending a prep school?
A: I would encourage every player to recruit the school, not have the school recruit them. Go somewhere you can play and be happy. Understand that if it is too good to be true it probably is. Do not fall for the promises of a scholarship. Ask how the school can help you, not how you can help the school.
Q: What prep schools do you recommend?
A: Not all prep schools are the same. Every player must find the right fit for them. However, here are some recommendations: