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SoCalHoops Recruiting News

Recruiting: Important Dates To Remember
& Things You Absolutely Must Know--(Aug. 4, 2000)

Now that the NCAA summer evaluation period has ended, August brings with it a time for players, parents and coaches to take a deep breath, sit back and think about what they've been through and where they're headed.   For many players, their recruiting will really pick up, as the college coaches return to their offices and to their phones, and they start sending out letters and making calls to prospective student-athletes in earnest.

And for students and their parents, it's time to take stock not only of which schools are calling (and sometimes which ones aren't) but it's also a time to make a checklist of things that every student has to do if he or she wants to be successfully recruited and ultimately wants the opportunity to continue to play basketball in college.

So, from our perspective, you'll need a sort of minimum checklist, something to remind you all of what needs to be done and what you may already have done or have yet to accomplish to take a more active role in the recruiting process.

There is plenty of information out there for you to read.   There are many books and guides about how to get recruited, how to attract a coach's attention (of course being a good, college-quality player doesn't hurt either).   That's not what this article is about.   What this is about is all the other things that college-quality players need to know about in order to have a successful recruiting experience, and ultimately gain admission and eligibility with the college of their choice.

First, you must (and that "must" reads as an absolute, mandatory, imperative) become familiar with the NCAA's "Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete" which covers most aspects of recruiting and which sets forth a nice calendar of what is going to happen and when it will take place.  Likewise, you must become familiar with the National Letter of Intent, when it can be signed, when it can't and what it means, and for that, you'll want to check the National Letter of Intent Website.

You also must register with the NCAA Clearinghouse

You must know the dates the SAT is given and when you can and should take the test.   And you must get a high enough score to gain admission to the college you want to attend, and you must get a high enough score to be eligible to play as a freshman (and the two scores are not necessarily the same).

As an alternative to the SAT, you can also take the ACT, and it's therefore important to know when that test is offered as well, and which schools use it and which schools do not.

In short, there's a lot to think about besides just who is calling and where you or your parents might want you to play basketball.  You'll need to be concerned about grades, test scores, registering as a prospective student athlete, and in short, focusing on getting the best grades you can so that you too don't become an academic casualty, restricted to playing JC ball, or sitting out a year as a Prop. 48 or a partial qualifier.  In an effort to assist players and parents, we've put together the following little handy compendium of things to do, and suggested target dates by which they will need to be accomplished.  Of course, we won't pretend to know all the answers to the entire college admissions process, and most every school in SoCal has an academic college counselor whose job it is to know this stuff.  Check with your counselor and get to know them because they can be of immeasurable assistance to you in the process of recruiting.  

Should I Become Involved In My Own Recruiting, or Leave It To My High School Coach?

This can be a pretty controversial topic, but it need not be.  The easy answer is never leave your recruiting to anyone else.  Never.   While there are many good and decent high school coaches who will undoubtedly have a network of friends in the college ranks who can assist you with your recruiting, remember, no matter how well-meaning or how well-connected your high school coach may be, and no matter how good his intentions, ultimately it's your life, and you ought to be involved, vitally involved in the process of determining where you will attend college.

For this reason, we would urge parents and players alike to take an active role in the preparation process of determining what college a student will attend.  Do not, therefore, leave the details of your college recruiting solely to your high school coach.  We realize that what we're about to say may rub some high school coaches the wrong way, but you would not believe how many kids we've spoken to over the past 8 or 10 years who had no idea that they were supposed to be involved in the process of their own college recruitment, who instead left it to their high school coaches, and those same players, good kids every one of them, wound up not only playing nowhere, they didn't understand what they needed to do just to gain admittance to the college of their choice.  Likewise, we've heard horror stories about players whose high school coaches don't turn over recruiting letters to the players, who either throw them away or don't let the kids know about the fact that a school might be interested, and while we don't know if that constitutes a felony in the State of California, it should be right up there with most other capital offenses.   We've spoken with kids who later hear from coaches who are shocked to learn that the college coach had been sending them letters and informational brochures for years, and yet the kid never knew because the high school coach didn't like the college, or didn't think his player fit or was good enough (or was too good) for that college.

To players who find themselves (or who suspect they are) in this situation, we have a suggestion:  Make a list of schools you are interested in attending.  Send a fax letter to each of those schools, or call the coaches, and give them your own home address.  Tell the colleges that if they wish to contact you directly, they can still send letters to your high school coach, but advise them to be certain to mail any important materials to your own home address.  Likewise, you don't even need to let your high school coach know you are doing this if you suspect he will in any way object or if you think it will affect your playing time.  Frankly, while your high school coach may be a great guy, one heck of a coach,  and even a qualified or dedicated educator who may even volunteer to assist with your recruiting process, it's ultimately not about your high school coach, not about who they know, or where they see you playing one day.  Picking a college is about you taking control of your own destiny, taking control of the learning process for yourself, from now and henceforth for the rest of your life.  So there's no reason to leave even one part of the process in someone else's hands.  Get involved. Take charge of your own recruiting.  Ask questions.  If you suspect that a high school coach is not giving you recruiting letters or withholding information from you, take control yourself.  It's your life.  Not everyone's dreams can be fulfilled, but at least when it comes to trying, you shouldn't have anyone else to blame but yourself if things don't go as you plan them.

A Recruiting Parable. . . Take Control Of Your Own Recruiting

Here's a true, honest to goodness story which actually happened about two weeks ago (during July 2000) which should serve as a great example of what we're talking about.  A senior point guard from a local LA City school, who was widely recruited and well-regarded as a frosh, soph and junior, signed early with an out-of-state college, signing a National Letter of Intent.  Some months later, before the player graduated high school, the coach at the college was terminated.  A new coach was hired.  Fortunately for the player (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), the new coach didn't want the player, and the player didn't want to attend the college with which he'd signed.  The coach persuaded the college to grant the player a release from his Letter of Intent, which in effect, put the player "back on the market".   This all occurred in late April of this year, about two months before the player graduated high school, with plenty of time for this player to start contacting other schools to get some renewed interest in his recruiting.   

And yet, during the middle of July, about a month after he had graduated from high school, we had occasion to speak with the player, and we were astonished to hear that he was still letting his former high school coach take control of his recruiting.  We asked him "So how's your recruiting going?  Who are you hearing from?"  to which he replied, "Well, I really don't know. . . Coach X is handling all of that for me, and he's been out of town on vacation for a few weeks, so I don't really know who has been calling or writing. . " 

Now this is a true story.  But it points out how naive some parents and players can be about the process of recruiting, and how important it is not to entrust it to someone who really has no stake in it.  This player will likely have to play two years of JUCO now, which is not necessarily the way things needed to turn out.  But instead of taking control of his own life, he left it to others, and predictably, they had their own lives to be concerned with and his priorities were not theirs, or more properly, he had not set any real priorities for himself.   An important, but costly lesson.

In any event, the process of recruiting is really about the process of getting into and gaining admission at the college of your choice, not just about basketball.  And as such, you'll need to take care of not only the "basketball stuff" but all the other things that go into getting admitted to a four year college or university.  Again, consult with your college admissions counselor, and get to know them well.  Get prepared early and take an active role in the process.  It's your life after all, and these are the things you'll need to do:

The National Letter of Intent:

As we noted above, you can find out just about everything you need to know about the National Letter of Intent by checking their website.  The important dates to remember for the LOI are listed below. Note: Do not sign prior to 7:00 a.m. (local time) on the following dates or after the final signing date listed, or the letter will be void.  Likewise, the LOI must be signed by a parent or a guardian in addition to being signed by the athlete, even if the athlete is over 18 years of age.

Early (Fall) LOI signing dates:

November 8, 2000 through  November 15, 2000

Late (Spring) LOI signing dates:

April 11, 2001 through May 15, 2001

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT):

In order to qualify for college admission, let alone qualify for freshman eligibility, you will need to take and "pass" (i.e., achieve a certain minimum score) on the SAT.  Different colleges have differing requirements, so merely achieving a minimum score for freshman eligibility may not guarantee you admission to some schools, who may require far higher test scores and GPA combinations than the minimum 2.5/820 combination for freshman eligibility.

You can get a lot of detail about the test, what it is like, which portions of the test you'll need to take at the ETS website, which has a whole section devoted just to the SAT

You'll need to take the SAT before you graduate, and you'll need to achieve at least a minimum score of 820 just to be able to play basketball as a freshman at the Division I level.   You can take the test more than once, and you need not take it as a senior if you think you've done well enough as a junior, but you can always take it again if you want to try to improve your score.   Remember also that you need to take the test before you can take any "official recruiting visits" (i.e., a paid trip) to a college, so from a timing point of view, you'll want to have at least taken the test by the fall of your senior year. . . and remember, you are permitted only 5 official visits.  You'll want to take the test early, usually during your junior year at least once. 

How often should you take the SAT?  The conventional wisdom is about two times during your senior year, but there are many colleges who advise their recruits to take it "every chance you get. . . "  (Stanford's letters suggest this course of action. . . you should check again with your college counselor to see what he or she thinks is best).

Here are the 2000-2001 dates for the administration of the SAT I and II:

Saturday Administrations

National Test Dates Test Registration Deadlines
U.S. and International++ U.S. Late
October 14, 2000* SAT I and SAT II September 12, 2000 September 16, 2000
November 4, 2000 SAT I, SAT II,
and Language Tests with Listening (including ELPT)+
September 29, 2000 October 11, 2000
December 2, 2000 SAT I and SAT II October 27, 2000 November 8, 2000
January 27, 2001* SAT I, SAT II, and ELPT+ December 22, 2000 January 3, 2001
March 31, 2001** SAT I only February 23, 2001 March 7, 2001
May 5, 2001* SAT I and SAT II March 29, 2001 April 13, 2001
June 2, 2001 SAT I and SAT II April 27, 2001 May 9, 2001

Note: Sunday test dates are scheduled following each Saturday test date for students who cannot test on Saturday because of a religious observance. In October 2000, the Sunday test date is one week earlier.

* SAT Question-and-Answer Service (QAS) is available. QAS is also available for the Sunday test date in May. In New York State, the SAT I might have to be offered only on those dates when the QAS is available -- under the New York State Standardized Testing Law.

**On this date, only the SAT I is offered, and only in the United States, U.S. territories, and Puerto Rico.

The American College Test (ACT):

You can find out just about everything you need to know about the ACT, including the dates it will be offered, by checking the ACT (American College Test) website.   The SAT happens to be the test of choice for most students in California, and that's likely because the University of California doesn't accept the ACT, but instead requires the SAT.   Both tests are similar, and although the numerical scores are interpreted differently, they have the same function.  If you are planning to attend any school besides a UC, then by all means, take the ACT in addition to the SAT.  The ACT will be offered during the following dates:

September 23, 2000
October 28, 2000
December 9, 2000
February 10, 2001
April 7, 2001
June 9, 2001

You can register for it online at the ACT website.

The NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse

You will have to register with the Clearinghouse (which is the official arm of the NCAA which determines whether you are eligible to compete as a freshman), and you will have to do so before you graduate.  Take care of this when you arrive back at school during September of your senior year (or you can do it sooner if you wish).

You will have to complete the necessary forms.  They are probably kept at your high school with your academic counselor, but if they don't know what you are asking for, or don't have any more copies for you to fill out, you should have them call the Clearinghouse in order to obtain the forms (at no cost) or you can get them yourself by calling  319/337-1492. 

In order to be registered with the Clearinghouse, you must complete the necessary student-release form and mail or fax the top (white) copy of the form to the Clearinghouse along with the $27 registration fee. Give the yellow and pink copies of the form to a high-school official who then sends the yellow copy, along with an official copy of your high-school transcript, to the clearinghouse. Your high school should keep the pink copy for its files. After graduation and before the school closes for the summer, your school also must send the clearinghouse a copy of your final transcript that confirms graduation from high school. 

If you can't afford to pay the $27 registration fee, your high-school counselors can waive the Clearinghouse fee if you have previously qualified for and received a waiver of the ACT or SAT fee. Fee-waiver information is specified on the student-release form. 

There are without a doubt many other topics to cover concerning recruiting, but these are the absolute, bare essentials from our point of view.  Get familiar with them.   There's more to know than just what time the next game tip-off is during the next open evaluation period. . . . A lot more.  And remember, it's your life, so take some responsibility and exercise control over your own recruiting.  

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