The ABC's of Recruiting

Being a great recruiter is one of the most important skills that any college coach can possess.  You can be the best X's & O's guy in the world, but without the right people in your program, your success can be short lived.  It is our responsibility as coaches to accurately and effectively recruit  the student-athletes who will succeed in our program and ultimately benefit themselves and the university as a whole.  The foundation of being a great recruiter begins with these "ABC's."


It is very hard to win without talent, so the first step in recruiting a player needs to be an assessment of his abilities.  It is important that we gain an idea and form an opinion of the player as soon as we first lay eyes on him.  Raw athleticism and highlight worthy dunks are intriguing, but make sure that you do your due diligence and pay attention to the finer details of a player's game.  Does he see the floor well?  Can he dribble with his left hand?  Is his strength & conditioning at a place we can continue to build on?  Does he have a solid basketball IQ?  The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Don't be lured in by a player that can do a 360, but can't shoot, dribble, or defend.  Make sure that the attributes of his game will fit well in your program and be a solution to your needs as a team.  


Most coaches are pretty good at the first step of recruiting and can assess talent very well, but they lack the ability to build a relationship with that player.  High school and college age student-athletes want to be mentored and challenged by you as a coach, so take advantage of the opportunity to pour into their life as much as you possibly can.  I understand that there are rules and guidelines that make this step in recruiting difficult, but that shouldn't mean you can't do it.  Be creative and diligent in building quality relationships even if you are limited in the amount of time you can contact the recruit.  Use the time you have to ask questions about their friends, family, dreams, and life after college.  Don't limit your communication to only basketball related topics.  Make sure the recruits know that you care about them for more than just their ability to play basketball.  


This is easily the most difficult aspect of recruiting.  It's relatively easy to find talent and you can force yourself to build a relationship with recruits, but it is extremely hard to see what kind of person they truly are.  Players want to be recruited and they will do almost anything to make you think they deserve a scholarship, but how will they respond when adversity presents itself?  It is your job as a coach to look for signs of character throughout the recruiting process.  How does he respond to a bad call?  Is his body language telling me something positive or negative?  How does he talk to his parents?  Does he seek counsel or does he have all the answers?  How does he treat the people around him?  Again, the list could go on and on.  Obviously, there is no perfect kid out there who will never make a mistake, but it is the job of the coach to decide whether or not a player has the character that will represent your program's culture the way you want it.  Don't settle for poor character just because a recruit is an amazing athlete.  Talent is never enough and a player with no character will hurt your team more than they can help it.  

If you can effectively perform these "ABC's" while recruiting players for your team, I am confident that you will be setting your program up for future success!