Three points to ponder
After the end of the college basketball season in 2021, more than 1,700 Division I men’s players entered the transfer portal. If you added all those transfers together, you’d have the equivalent of more than 106 DI basketball rosters. That number is even more staggering when you consider that just 10 years ago, only 532 DI players transferred. As the 2021-22 college basketball season got underway, roughly 25% of all the players in DI were playing at new schools.
How much of that player movement can be attributed to the NCAA’s new one-time transfer rule and or the extra year of eligibility granted to every player because of the pandemic is hard to determine. However, it’s very clear that college basketball recruiting as it’s traditionally operated is changing rapidly. What’s causing those changes and how could your own recruiting be affected? Consider:
Rosters Are In A Constant State Of Flux
Roster turnover has been a minor annoyance for college basketball coaches since the NBA lowered its draft-eligible age to 19. However, now that any player can leave for another school or the NBA at just about any time, more college coaches have to plug more holes in the roster more often. And for all but the elite talents, that may mean coaches will wait longer to see who transfers out and who’s transferring in before they start recruiting high school players.
If you’re looking to get recruited to play college basketball, that may mean that you’ll have to be a bit more patient and wait until a team’s roster picture gets clearer before a coach gets serious about scholarship offers. On the upside, however, that same roster flux could create unexpected openings, and that could lead to more opportunities for you.
Coaches Can Fill Holes Faster Via Transfers
The easy access to transfers means, should a college coach have several open roster spots, he or she can quickly reload via the transfer portal rather than rebuild through recruiting and development. That’s because a college player in the transfer portal likely has more experience and weight room time than an incoming freshman. That those players have demonstrated they can handle the pace of DI play, as well as the academic load, making a basketball player in the transfer portal a known quantity that can step in and play immediately.
Given that, it’s easy to see why many coaches are looking for transfers before they consider new recruits. For all but the elite talents, coaches roll the dice that a high school recruit will be able to adapt to a higher level of play while also being responsible enough to keep up their grades and handle the freedom afforded college students.
On the risk to reward scale, college coaches see transfers as low risk, high reward. Conversely, being a mostly unproven quantity, a high school recruit carries more risk, and that means scholarship opportunities that once went to high school basketball players may now land with transfers.
How can you make yourself appear “less risky” to a college coach? Keep up your grades to start, as the higher your grades and entrance exam scores, the more confidence a coach will have that you can handle the load in college. On the court, work to be mature in your game and in your attitude. Show a coach that you can adjust your game to a higher level and that you’ve got the maturity to adapt to that system and to adversity.
Basketball Players Have More Options
In addition to the option of transferring to another school, college players can opt to go pro and play in Europe. Or, they can sign on with the NBA G League Ignite, the NBA’s talent incubator team for players under age 19. All of those options may mean more spots for incoming freshmen in Division I, and other divisions as well.
If you’re a high school recruit who’s not an elite talent, your best option may still be to pursue a college scholarship. Just remember that the recruiting landscape is changing rapidly, so you’ll need to be flexible and keep all your options open. The scholarship you think you have today could instead be given to a surprise transfer tomorrow, so don’t close any doors until the letter of intent is ready to be signed.
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