The opportunity to play sports at a United States College is something that athletes throughout the world dream about. There are opportunities out there to play at a level that allows for continued development athletically while also receiving a quality education, all while gaining life-experience that is hard to replicate. However, that dream often seems to be out of reach to most international athletes who live thousands of miles away.
To achieve this dream, it’s important to understand there is never a shortcut for hard work as an athlete, or more importantly as a student. Ultimately, if you want to play college basketball, you must have both the athletic ability AND the qualifying academics to do so. If you can control nothing else in your recruitment, you CAN control the effort you put into improving yourself on the court and in the classroom.
It is also good to understand the biggest initial hurdles in the college recruiting process for everyone involved. On one side, there are the college’ coaches. Most of them LOVE the idea of recruiting international athletes! However the problem is that they struggle to identify suitable student-athletes. Although there may be millions of prospective recruits out there, most coaches do not have the resources or the knowledge of international landscapes to even begin considering them. On the other side, there are the student-athletes who not only struggle to find ways to let those college coaches know that they exist, but they also rarely have any knowledge of the thousands of universities available at the various levels of competition.
A few areas to consider in the recruiting process are:
Different levels of college sports: Any athlete in the recruiting process should take the ‘Level’ of a school completely out of their decision.
Social media and how it affects your recruitment: Be smart about the content you post online (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc). College coaches and future employers will check up on what you’ve posted. This can often determine what decision they make about your future at their college.
Academic requirements and how to prepare for them: Keep in mind there are specific core classes required between Years 9-13 for NCAA school eligibility, so check that you’re taking these. There are also standardized tests and qualifying scores needed to meet NCAA, NAIA requirements. And you’ll need to achieve a specific level of grade success from Year 9 through to Year 13.
Things to consider when choosing a university/college:
As mentioned, the ‘Level’ of a school should not be one of these. Your overall experience should be considered, so be sure to take things into consideration such as the school, the location, on-campus activities, housing, majors available, success of the school’s job placement post-graduation, and average class size etc.
In terms of athletics you’ll want to consider the potential to play early, how you fit in with the roster and the coaching staff, and the school’s facilities etc.
You’ll also need to consider if the school offers full athletic scholarships or only partial scholarships. Will there be additional financial obligations, such as tuition costs, housing and books. Are you willing to help cover some costs? If so, how much is realistically possible?
The process can be complex and most people will be looking for some advice as to what would benefit them and what their options are. There are many people willing to offer advice about this, but it’s our experience that people need to be careful what advice they take on board. So tread carefully and do your research if you’re seeking college opportunities. If you do this well, it’s likely you’ll be happy when you get there.