It’s recruiting season.  The NCAA D1 men’s transfer portal for men’s basketball has over 1300 athletes and counting.  That’s one-third of all the players.  When you add the thousands of junior college, postgrad, and high school players that are out there, the question is. What are college coaches looking for?

It’s a complicated “formula” that is different for every coach and every program.  At the end of the day, it’s a combination of these factors.

1. Eye test. Do they look like they belong on my team?  Size. Athletic ability. Are you in shape?

2.  Skill set.  Are the decisions a player makes good ones and can they execute them at a level that will translate? This is with and without the ball and on offense and defense.  Many players can’t make the best decisions because they don’t have the skill set to execute them.  Some players make good decisions but aren’t able to execute them at a high enough level with enough consistency.  Some players do things that just won’t translate at higher levels. This is why the transfer portal is so attractive to coaches.  They don’t have to worry as much if things will translate.  These players have already proven what they can (or can’t do)  against a known level of competition. There are of course players who are transferring because they aren’t getting to play.  Those players still have the experience of being in practice every day against players who are better than most players coming out of high school.

What are the skills?  The list is long and varies with each program.  Efficiency in catch and shoot situations.  Being able to finish efficiently in a variety of situations.  Creating their own shot and making it efficiently.  Creating shots for others.  Handling pressure.  Movement off the ball.  Screening and reading screens.  Defending the ball.  Defending off the ball. Ability to transition from offense to defense or defense to offense quickly.  Ability to play within a system. Ability to counter any defensive tactic. This is a short list that could be broken down into many more specific things.

3. Intangibles. Effort level, competitiveness, character.  Do you work hard in practice and play hard in games? Are you all about winning?  Are you a good teammate?

4. Academics It’s not the first thing most scholarship level coaches look at but it can be the first thing that gets you eliminated from the equation.

If all those things are 10 out of 10, you can go anywhere you want. If they aren’t, and most players aren’t, then that determines your options.  Steph Curry didn’t pass the eye test in high school, but he is truly elite in so many other areas.  Giannis passes the eye test, but he’s limited in his shooting ability.  That’s two different ends of the spectrum.  But then the question is…where do you fit in?  

And every coach places more value on certain things than others depending on their preferences and what they already have on their team. Do they want more of the same or are they looking for something different?  Each player needs to maximize the things that they can control and learn how to work around the areas that they can’t.  

Be aware.

Scholarship schools are recruiting in this order

1. Their own players to try to get them to not transfer
2. Transfers
3. JuCo
4. Postgrads
5. Seniors
6. Everybody else

Unless a player has elite size recruitment at younger ages won’t really happen and it’s going to happen less and less if things stay the same with the transfer portal.

Keep in mind if you’re not in college, you’re not competing against other high school players.  Your competition is the transfer portal.  Older, stronger, more experienced, and proven athletes who know what college athletics is about.  Like we tell everyone we work with.  You have to be undeniable.  Not just good enough.  UNDENIABLE. Then you’ll get to ask the questions and evaluate your options.



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