Basketball Recruiting Tips for July

AAU basketball
Photo Credit: klemencic/Flikr

By James Blackburn

Let’s face it, not every player is a 6’9” athletic PF who can jump out of the gym, shoot 3’s, and handle the ball. Most players are in the 6’0” to 6’5” range and blend in on the court, unless they do something exceptionally well (shooter, playmaker, athletic, etc.). The live period is about to begin in July and players from all over the country will be joining their AAU teams to compete in events in front of dozens of college coaches and scouts. What are you going to do to get noticed?

Below are just a few things that scouts and coaches will look for.

1. Run the floor….HARD!
This is something that is rarely seen anymore in high school and AAU basketball. It doesn’t matter what position you play, guards, wings, and post can and should run the floor. If you’re a power forward or center, run rim-to-rim and you will be amazed at how many easy buckets and offensive rebounds you will get. Wings run the floor as hard as you can and run wide; you will get lay-ups and dunks.

2. Be active….especially on the defensive end
It amazes me when I go to events, how few of players block shots, contest shots, and move on the defensive end. Energy and a high motor are appealing to coaches at the next level and will help set you apart from the pack. Again, being active does not exclude any positions on the floor. If you are a point guard pick up your man early and guard him to tight baseline to baseline. Be in his shirt, so that when he does get across half court he is too tired to try to score. A great example of this was a player that I saw a few months back at the PIT (Portsmouth Invitational Tournament) in Virginia. Zach Rosen (Penn, 6’1”) is the average looking player, not extremely athletic- doesn’t really pass the “look” test, but he wowed every scout in attendance because of his activity level on the defensive end and because of the pressure he put on the opposing ball handler.

If you are a post player, block shots and more importantly alter shots. If you are an athletic wing, don’t be lazy on the defensive end, you are not excluded from blocking shots too. Have active hands, showcase your length, and contest shots. Don’t let your hands be by your side. Play help defense, jump to the ball, and be alert and always ready to move.

By not doing these things that tells coaches and scouts alike that a) you are tired or b) you have a low motor and/or you don’t care about the defensive end.

3. Communicate
Communicating on the floor is very important. A coaching friend told me several years ago, that if you are not talking/communicating, then that must mean you don’t know what to say and you don’t know what you are doing yourself. By communicating on the floor, that tells coaches that you know what you are doing and that you are also confident enough to let others know. Be a leader on the floor and lead by example. Call out screens, let teammates know that you are there to help, and communicate with teammates about sets and defenses.

4. Be a good teammate and display good body language.
I see it all the time, a kid has all the talent and tools in the world, but he has a bad attitude on the court, he cries to the refs, doesn’t respect his coaches, and yells, disrespects teammates. This is a major turnoff to coaches at the next level. I heard a story not too long ago about a high school player who was getting some heavy interest from a particular college. When the college came to a game that season to watch him play, the player picked up a couple of early fouls and had to sit out. While on the bench, instead of pouting and having a bad attitude, this particular player continued to cheer on his teammates, helped get water for players coming off floor, and was involved with the huddles. The college coach walked out of the gym and called the high school coach the next day and offered the player a scholarship because of his demeanor and attitude on the bench.

By doing these things above, you will not only help your team win and succeed but you will stand out from your peers and impress both college coaches and scouts alike.

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