5 Important Things Recruits Need to Know Before Going to College

A high school prospect is studied intensely by coaches from major universities.

Based on my experience as a recruit preparing for college sports, here are the 5 most important pieces of information that I think recruits need to know:

  1. Stardom is earned, not given.  High school rank means nothing once you step on the court for the first time as a college player.  You are not handed the starting job or given superstar status.  There are countless players who have outplayed their fellow recruiting classmates; take these studs for example:  Russ Smith, Louisville’s sharp-shooting guard and leading scorer during their title run was an unranked prospect coming out of high school.  Trey Burke, Michigan’s All-American point guard was the winner of the Naismith Trophy, Associated Press Player of the Year Award, Big Ten Player of the Year Award, and Wooden Award last season.  Receiving these accolades as a just sophomore is a tremendous feat, considering Burke was only the 16th best point guard coming out of high school.  IU forward Victor Oladipo came into Bloomington as the 54th overall small forward.  Three years later he became a First Team All-American, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, the National Co-Defensive Player of the Year, and the number 2 overall selection in the NBA Draft.  These are just some of the recent embodiments of players who exceed expectations and their high school rank.  No matter what your high school rank is or was, remember that you create your own success.
  2. Be grateful.  98% percent of high school athletes will never compete collegiately in ANY division.  You are one of the few that will hopefully be able to identify yourself as a college athlete.  Don’t take this rare opportunity for granted.  A vast majority of high school students simply aren’t gifted with the size and athletic ability to continue playing sports in college.  College is a blast, and you’re allowed to have fun.  Just don’t do anything that could screw up your extraordinary opportunity.  
  3. Have a backup plan and get your degree.  Here’s the harsh reality:  almost all of you won’t play in the NBA.  Only 1.2% of college basketball players will make it to the NBA.  Even if you do make an NBA roster, history dictates that you are more than likely to be done with basketball before you reach the age of 30.  The average NBA career is only 4.8 years long, taking into account the players that begin each year on an NBA roster.  With such limited space on rosters and a plethora of players fighting for those spots, it is a monumental challenge making a roster, let alone sustaining a lengthy career.  Let’s not forget that career-threatening injuries can happen at any time to any athlete.  My advice:  unless your name is Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, it would be wise to get your degree.  You will find a much more favorable job market.
  4. Follow the rules.  The NCAA has numerous bylaws, OBEY THEM.  While some may be questionable, they are still laws.  My college football coaches address this the day we report for training camp because they know how important this topic is.  The worst thing that could happen is having a player or group of players miss games for non-football related reasons that can easily be avoided with an education of the rules.  If you are not sure if something you want to do violates a rule, ASK SOMEBODY before proceeding.  Better to be safe than miss the biggest game on the schedule.

5.  Don’t create a bad reputation through social media.  We see players being constantly scrutinized on Sports Center for their poor decisions on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram.  The world of social media is a mine field of scavengers ready to jump on anything controversial that is associated with a star athlete.  Let’s take our friend Johnny Football, for example.  It seems like every week there’s a new picture or tweet that sparks controversy with the former Heisman Trophy winner.  While some of it is his own fault, the main cause is the media parade that follows the star quarterback wherever he goes.  And why wouldn’t they?  With Manziel’s celebrity-style offseason activities detailed on Twitter and Instagram, he should know that everyone wants to know what he’s going to do next.  Someone as famous as Manziel should not put himself in situations that could appear on social media sites and reflect negatively of him.  My point is this:  it’s perfectly fine to talk about various events that go on in your life, but be careful not to draw the wrong kind of attention to yourself like Johnny Football did.