Five-Star All American Moses Moody of Little Rock, Arkansas, Class of 2020, In action during the Pangos All-American Elite Camp at Cerritos College in Norwalk, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

College Basketball: What it takes to be recruited division1

By Jack Williams

Often when people go on my website or to my Podcast, they often ask me am I a coach or am I associated with a division 1 college basketball team in anyway. Then the question that follows is, how do I get my son recruited by a major division 1 basketball team? First, I respond by saying that I am not a coach nor am I affiliated with any division 1 college basketball team. I’m just a fan of the game who likes to write and talk about it. Since I get that question so often, I’ve decided to dedicate a show to division 1 college basketball recruiting. So, these are the question that I get most often. Now keep in mind that I cover Men’s college basketball so most of my questions are geared towards Men’s College Basketball.

How early should I start preparing my son for basketball?

The answer to that question is as soon as he’s capable of bouncing a ball. Kids like to emulate what they see others do. If he see’s someone else bouncing a ball often he may pick it up as well. That is if he’s interested.

At what age should I get my son involved in organized basketball?

Organized AAU basketball starts as early as 7 years old. But make sure he’s ready for that and make sure that you have him to try out for the right team. There are some AAU programs in your state that have been established for years. Try them first. If that doesn’t work, try your local boys and girls club. Some AAU coaches play in boys and girls club tournaments every once in a and while to get their teams more playing hours. Therefore, if your son is a hard worker and grows to love the game some AAU coaches will pick up on that and will probably recruit him immediately. There are also AAU coaches who hold work outs for small children who are interested in playing basketball.

AAU Basketball

So, what’s the importance of AAU Basketball? For one, organized basketball on the school level doesn’t start unit junior high school. AAU gives a child the workout and playing hours needed to improve his game before playing organized school ball. And we’ll explain later why organized school ball is still important.

AAU also provides exposure for a young prospect. There are a lot of tournaments played around the country where most division 1 basketball recruiters are present. So, a young prospect can create a buzz amongst the professionals who make the decisions in division 1 college basketball. And if a prospect puts in the work and gets to play on an elite travel team in his state or surrounding state with other players like him, he may get the opportunity to play in an Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) where most elite AAU teams and players are invited. The Pangos Premier showcase is a well-known event where a lot of top prospects get to display their talent and skills amongst the elite recruiters. And that’s how the ranking process begin.

Now there are going to be a lot of fake starter AAU teams out there trying to get your money. There are frauds in AAU basketball just like there are frauds in everything else. There are going to be a whole lot of combines (basketball workouts) popping up all around the state claiming that they can get your son the exposure he needs to be recruited to division 1 college basketball. Some of them can but most of them can’t. However, it is always good to get in a little more playing time and drills so don’t burn your bridges.

Now there are some attributes and skills needed to make it to the division 1 level of college basketball that can’t be taught such as size, athleticism and body type. Some guys are just gifted in these areas. Skills, exposure, work ethic, grades, size, athleticism and body type combined are all factors in rating a prospect.

High School

Why is high school basketball still important? Some people say that high school isn’t relevant anymore but that’s a long way from being true. For one, high school keeps stats. Two, AAU is designed to get exposure amongst the professionals. Most people in the community aren’t going to be at AAU games. The community is very important when it comes down to creating buzz. Because of cell phone videos a buzz will travel much faster through the community because of social media. And third, academics counts. AAU doesn’t give you a school grade, but high school does. Most college basketball coaches get bonuses for having athletes with good grades. Therefore, they don’t want to deal with dummies because it may cost them money.

Division 1 College Basketball

To understand division 1 college basketball, you must realize that this is the next closest thing to going pro. Most players playing division 1 college basketball was, at some point, one of the best players in his state. Most players playing on the division 1 level were ranked as a two (2) to a five (5) star recruit at one point or another, which includes JUCO transfers. And don’t think that JUCO division 1 basketball is any different than playing division 1 college basketball on a four-year level. The only difference is the qualification. Some four (4) and five (5) star prospects play JUCO ball because they aren’t eligible grades wise to play d1 on the four-year college level. That’s the only difference.

Ranked Freshmen Recruits I heard one father say that ranking doesn’t mean anything. Then he goes on to say that his son can compete with any top ranked freshman prospect. That may be true. But what is not true is that rankings don’t mean anything. You must understand that there was a lot of hard work and money put into prospects ranked at a 3 to 5 stars. A lot of evaluating went into ranking that 3, 4, and 5-star player. And most of the time those rankings are right.,, and ESPN are the three biggest media ranking systems in the country. An average of the three gives scouts an idea of where a potential prospect stand.

A Five-Star Prospect

A five-star prospect is one that has put a lot the time and work into skill development. This prospect has what it takes to play amongst the elite prospects. Not only does he have the ability to play amongst the elite, he also has the mind-set, athleticism and body needed to compete on the Pro level. Now a five-star doesn’t guarantee that a prospect is going to go pro. Even a five-star must be able to elevate his game to another level in order to play pro ball.

A Four-Star Prospect

A four-star prospect is also one who has the skills, mind-set, and body to play amongst the elites and has the potential to play on the pro level. The difference between a five-star and four-star player is that the former may be ready to play on the pro level immediately while the latter may need just a little more time to elevate his game.

A Three-Star Prospect

A three-star prospect is one who is ready to play amongst the elites on the division 1 college level but need a lot of work to make it to the Pro level. As a matter of fact, it may be a bad idea for a three-star prospect to sign with a team in a major six (6) conference team as a freshman because the chance of him riding the bench for at least two years is great. However, its different if the prospect has proven himself on the mid-major level and has made it onto a major six level team via transfer.

One- or Two-star Prospects

A one- or two-star prospect is one who may be ready to play amongst the division 1 elites but more than likely must play on a lower level division 1 team or even a higher-level division 2 team. He may have what it takes to compete but is lacking in size, speed, and/or leaping ability. The chances of going pro gets slimmer as the ranking gets smaller.

Unranked Freshman Prospect

An Unranked freshman prospect still has a chance to play on the elite college basketball level. All is not lost. However, he is more likely will play on the division 2, 3, or NAIA level of college basketball. And there is nothing wrong with playing on these levels. The competition is still good because many of these players were still some of the best in their states at some point.

Major six (6) division 1 recruiting:

When I say major six (6), I mean the ACC, Big 10, Big East, Pac-12, Big 12, and the SEC. Most of teams who are in the top tier of these conference are looking to win immediately. These coaches must get their teams to the Sweat Sixteen or above consistently in order keep their jobs. And I say that because they are normally looking for prospects who could help them win now. Recruiters from the top tier teams of these conferences are more than likely to recruit five and/or four-star prospects because most of them have put in the work to play at the elite level. However, they are also likely to recruit one to five-star players who have proven themselves on a mid-major or lower level division 1 college basketball team, via transfer or graduate transfer. Top tier division 1 college basketball teams are less likely to recruit JUCO transfers than mid-majors and lower level division 1 teams are.

Mid-Major Recruiting:

More and more mid-major teams are starting to recruit like top tier major six (6) teams on the division 1 level. Teams such as Gonzaga and Nevada are recruiting four- and five-star prospects and are heavily recruiting mid-major transfers and graduate transfers who have proven themselves. But other mid-major teams try to get old and stay old in order to compete.

What are the chances for a division 2 player to transfer to division 1?

It happens. But to be honest with you it doesn’t happen often. You will find more division 1 players transferring to division 2 programs than division 2 players transferring to a division 1 program. And that’s why the competition on the division 2 level is just as high because a lot of those players were once division 1 players who couldn’t find their way on the division 1 level for some reason or another.