5 Mid-Major Programs Recruits Should Know

5 Mid-Major Programs Recruits Should Know


Dreams of stardom, aspirations of success at the professional level—they both depend heavily on the recruiting process. Many aspiring basketball players dream of playing for a big program in college. Schools such as Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, and Syracuse, which are some of the most prominent programs in men’s college basketball, immediately come to mind.


In the pursuit of a professional career, it becomes easy to believe that only players who attend large programs will compete at the highest level and receive attention from NBA teams. Unfortunately, these individuals choose to ignore any alternatives and forgo an excellent opportunity to compete for the attention of professional teams.  


The alternative?—playing for a mid-major program. Not only do mid-majors seek the same talent as larger programs, but offer sizeable scholarships that larger schools cannot supply to players ranking outside of the ESPN Top100.  In addition, players competing for mid-majors are afforded an opportunity to play in the spotlight, competing with larger schools in the NCAA Tournament.


At the conclusion of the 2012-2013 regular season, Gonzaga was ranked as the #1 team in the nation. Wichita State was a debatable jump-ball away from reaching the 2013 National Championship game. Two mid-major programs offered top 10 draft picks in this year’s NBA draft—UNLV forward, Anthony Bennett, was selected with the first pick in the NBA draft while Lehigh guard, C.J. McCollum, was drafted with the ninth selection. Furthermore, Mike Muscala, the star center for Bucknell, was also drafted in the first round with the 44th pick. These examples illustrate the opportunity for mid-major competitors to showcase and be rewarded for their talent.


Five mid-major programs have been drawn from the polls of,, and and ranked for recruits to consider. Although other quality mid-major programs exist, the following criterion was used to select the programs: current rankings, NCAA Tournament appearances within the past 10 seasons, tenure of the head coach, and the number of impactful graduating seniors who will need talented high school replacements.


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5. Saint Mary’s (28-7)



Boasting five NCAA Tournament appearances in the past 10 seasons—with three coming in the past five years—the Gaels have proven to be a tough test for larger programs, gaining recognition for their continual NCAA Tournament berths. Furthermore, players such as Matthew Dellavedova, who led the team in the 2012-2013 season with 15.8 PPG and 6.4 APG, drew national attention for their spectacular play.


With the coaching stability provided by Coach Randy Bennett, who has led the Gaels for the previous 11 seasons, Saint Mary’s is an excellent mid-major program to consider during the recruiting process. In addition, of the 16 players on last year’s NCAA Tournament team, five graduated, including Dellavedova. This leaves a void in talent that will require the infusion of skill supplied by incoming high school players.

4. Bucknell (28-6)







Under the guidance of Coach Dave Paulsen, the Bison reached the NCAA Tournament twice in the past five seasons. After a successful year, Bucknell graduated its biggest star, Mike Muscala. Muscala not only led the team in scoring, but also in rebounds and assists per game (18.7 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.3 APG)  before being drafted with the 44th selection in this year’s NBA draft. Additionally, Joe Willman and Bryson Johnson, Bucknell’s second leading rebounder and passer, respectively, have graduated.


In total, from the 2012-2013 team, four of the 15 members graduated. While the Bison lost very talented players, these vacancies will open opportunities for recruits to shine.

3. Belmont (26-7)



Coaching stability represents a key ingredient of a winning team, especially for mid-major programs. Coach Rick Byrd has developed a respectable program during his 28 seasons at Belmont, reaching the NCAA Tournament six times in the past ten years—three of which came in the previous five campaigns.


Belmont will face the 2013-2014 season without its top scorer, Ian Clark (18.2 PPG), leading rebounder, Trevor Noack (5.5 RPG), and its best facilitator, Kerron Johnson (4.8 APG), who all graduated. Like Bucknell, the loss of these key players will force others to step-up their game, creating room for ambitious recruits.   

2. Gonzaga (32-3)



One of the most renowned mid-major programs in the nation, Gonzaga held the #1 ranking in the nation at the end of the regular season. Additionally, the Bulldogs have played in each NCAA Tournament for the past 10 seasons. Such success can be largely attributed to Coach Mark Few’s ability to find and cultivate talent over the course of his 13 seasons at Gonzaga.


Much of the program’s recent achievements were correlated with the play of its top scorer and the 13th pick in the NBA draft, Kelly Olynyk. Another key contributor, Elias Harris, who was the Bulldogs second leading scorer at 14.6 PPG and the team’s leading rebounder with 7.4 RPG, graduated and is pursuing a professional career as well. With the program’s consistency, Gonzaga presents an exciting opportunity for recruits to realize their dreams.






1. Wichita State (30-9)



A Cinderella story in this year’s NCAA Tournament, Wichita State fell just short of reaching the National Championship Game. Four of the 14 players on the Shockers’ Final Four squad graduated, including their top rebounder, Carl Hall (6.8 RPG), and top passer, Malcolm Armstead (4.0 APG).


Over the course of his six seasons at Wichita State, Coach Gregg Marshall has led Wichita State to two NCAA Tournament berths. His moving speech in the aftermath of the Shockers heartbreaking Final Four defeat testifies to his personal investment in his team and players.


Sources from ESPN believe that Coach Marshall loves his life in Wichita, Kansas and would be very reluctant to leave for a slightly larger contract at another school. Prospective recruits can be confident that Coach Marshall remain at Wichita State for the foreseeable future, supporting them throughout their collegiate career.


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Other programs that ranked outside of the top five for the 2013-2014 season include Valparaiso, Creighton, Middle Tennessee, Stephen F. Austin, and Louisiana Tech.


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In the past five NCAA Tournaments, four mid-major programs have reached the Final Four. In back-to-back seasons, Butler was the national runner-up. When dreaming of the glory to be had in Cameron Indoor Stadium or Rupp Arena, remember that Butler was 3 points away from defeating Duke for the national championship in the 2009-2010 season. Remember that Anthony Bennett was drafted 1st in the 2013 NBA draft. Remember that other mid-major programs and players will continue to thrive.