So while I'm no hall of famer, I have long considered myself a great recruiter but terrible coach. I've turned several bad teams around and made them good teams which makes me think I can help a new person.
As we all know, this game requires learning a lot and having patience to stay in the game, so many coaches quit after a year because the game makes no sense to them. I wrote this recruiting guide for a new coach last season and he really liked it so I thought I would share it. This could be a great post for other vets to add things to, or you could let it fall off the main page if you think it isn't worth much. I think most new coaches would like something like this.
It is very basic and by no means all someone needs to know, just as others might feel differently about things but I wanted to share this with everyone and see if it is helpful to rookies or if vets think it is a good idea to have it on the board. I wrote it specifically for one team so there are references to specific teams that will not apply but all of the main points still remain. With that enjoy or let me know what you think.
Ok I'm going to try to break recruiting down for you as much and simply as possible, just know the truth is you will learn as you go. Everyone has bad recruiting classes, guys they wish they never recruited and money they wish they could have back after blowing it. Don't get discouraged at any point just learn from what happened and move on. I'll try to break this down into key topics. This is a long read but should help answer a lot of questions.
1. The Basics
- Recruiting cycles run every 3 hours (2 hours for the first one) meaning recruiting starts at 6 PM, the next cycle is 8 PM, 11 Pm, 2 AM, AM, 8 AM, 11 AM, 2 PM, 5 PM etc...
-You will only get a response at each cycle, what that means is you can put money into a guy at 8:02 PM or at 10:59 PM and you will hear back at 11:01 so you have 3 hours to make any moves you want then just wait for the cycle.
- Avoid battles at D3. I can't stress this enough, you don't have enough money to battle and there aren't many players that don't have a similar player out there. Now if you are an A prestige you can try to take a player from a lower school and probably succeed, but again you have to ask yourself is he worth that money or could you find someone just as good? Every 1/3 a letter grade of prestige a school has over you is equal to a couple thousand dollars more of effort you need to spend. Not really worth it because losing a battle at D3 can cost you your entire class.
2. Recruiting effort
-It is important to understand the value of each recruiting thing you can do, the ones you will use are:
a. Phone call- basically tells you if a player would consider you or not
b. call coach- same as phone call but you may find out what O/D a player plays also
these two you basically use once at the beginning and don't use again
c. scouting trip- A good way to find out info on the player, you will find out potential for 4 or 5 areas plus what O or D he runs. You will also get a comment about what kind of character the kid has. These are how you do pull downs which I'll tell you about in a bit.
d. Home Visit- You go visit the player
e. Campus visit- The player visits you
These visits are where the majority of your money is spent
Offer scholarship is pretty explanatory as is promise minute or promise start, make sure if you promise those things you plan to keep them or the player may leave and hurt your reputation.
Never use a psychological exam its useless, and Boosters don't apply in D3 so no issue.
3. The Players/Ratings
- Most important thing about finding players is don’t get concerned with overall ratings. You might see a PG with a 460 rating but a 12 for speed, 2 for ball handling and 11 for passing and then a 99 stamina, 99 Work ethic and 90 rebounding which won’t help a PG. At the same time you can find a PG who is a 390 overall rating but is a 70 speed 65 BH and 75 PA but low in other areas that don’t matter. Always use the players core ratings to judge him. Which for a guard are speed, ath, bh, pa, per. For a big man Ath, reb, lp, spd.
- Also remember you can play a player at any position. My team for example is heavy on PGs, however one starts at SG because he has high PER and one starts at SF because he has average LP and average PER but not strong enough in either category to be a guard or big man. If you find a Center with high BH, Pa and speed, run him at PG and you’ll be ok. That is rare but realize a guys position doesn’t really matter.
- Now just as important as ratings is potential. This is why FSS is usually a must, you can’t afford to scout every player you are interested in at D3 so you have to know who is worth it and who isn’t. When you get FSS you can see a player’s potential in every category which is very important. Low potential means to expect about 0-5 points of improvement, Avergage is about 7-14 and high is about 14-20+ points of improvement.
What that means is a player might look great at 60 Speed and 60 BH compared to a player with 50 Spd and 50 BH, but if player 1 has low potential in both areas and Player 2 has high player 2 will wind up the better player.
-Dropdowns, every team outside of the top 50 D1 teams rely on dropdowns in some way. A dropdown is basically a player who valued himself too highly. What that means is basically the following happens. A low rated D1 player realizes he isn’t going to D1 and he goes to D2 instead. The higher D2 players go to the lower D2 schools and then the lower D2 players go to the higher D3 schools which of course sends the higher D3 players to the lower D3 schools. At a C prestige you can get D2 dropdowns as well. I’ll go through a typical recruiting effort on a player in a bit to show you how.
- Pulldowns are like drop downs but instead of being patient you spend a bunch of money on a player to get him to consider coming to your school instead of even waiting for a D2 school to like him. The only way to do this is to send a ton of scouting trips and a scholarship. The reason it has to be scouting trips is because a player can reject your other efforts like home visits but he can’t reject a scouting trip. These are high risk high reward as you might wind up spending a ton of money trying to pull down a player who never even gives you a second look. I wouldn’t advise this for you early on or at a lower prestige school, but atleast you know they exist.
4. How to recruit
Ok so you have an idea of what you are looking for in players, now what does recruiting actually look like.
- The #1 rule for recruiting at D3 and for recruiting with lower prestige schools is PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE I can not stress that enough. There is no need to freak out about how many open spots you have and fill them as quick as possible with the first players available, remember that guys will drop to you, sometimes not for a few days though. The recruiting period is longer than you think.
- Start by assessing your needs and figuring out what kind of players you want and what positions you need to fill. Then start with a local search say about 300 miles. At D3 it is best to stay close to home as the farther away a player is the more money he costs. If you look at my team I have 8 players from a state that touches Minnesota. You can get players from further away but it is best to start local first. Look for D2 guys and if you find some D3 guys you like add them to your list as well.
- See if you have states with lots of players from your list on it. Most likely Minnesota will be there and buy the FSS for it. You will need to determine how many states to buy, you don’t want to waste to much money on FSS for states you aren’t even going to wind up getting any players from. I try to start with 1 or 2 states and buy more from there as recruiting goes on based on how much money I have.
- Once you have a good recruiting watch list, figure out who you want more than others knowing that you won’t get everyone you want and that many of your best players on the list will go to a better school than yours. Again don’t just fall in love with a player and fight over him when you aren’t going to win the battle.
- At the very first cycle 6 PM tomorrow you send all of your D2 players a phone call and that is it. What happens when you send a phone call is 1 of 4 things. He will either reject your call which will wind up costing you no money. You’ll know this happened because you won’t get a response from him at 8:01 and he cost you nothing This means he is not interested, don’t spend another cent on him. Second he could give you a mean response, something like oh if this is the coach from Macalaster don’t bother leaving a message. This means he has no interest and you should remove him from your list and move on. Third he could say Macalaster sounds pretty good tell me more or something positive like that, this means he is interested and will respond to your effort. The 4th thing you may get is a backup message, something like you are a fallback option for me stay in touch. This means he still thinks he can go to a better school but if he doesn’t get an offer than he will consider you. This is where pulldowns and dropdowns come in. When you get that message leave him on your list and just wait. If you see him consider another school then get rid of him. If he doesn’t get the attention he will eventually send you an email saying he loves you now and wants to know more. That is when you can recruit.
- An average effort on a player who you wind up not battling for will look something like this- keep in mind this is just a sample and can vary by coach or player, this is not a secret formula for landing a player
a. First cycle phone call with backup message
b. Eventually you hear back that he is now interested
c. Send him a campus visit and scholarship offer
d. He either comes back considering you or he needs more effort
e. Repeat until you are on his list
f. Once you are on his list and nobody else is you don’t have to do anything else, the only way you can fall from a player’s list is if another school outspends you so much that you get knocked off. There is no reason to keep sinking money into a player that is going to sign with you. Battles of course are a different story
So again to wrap up, find some guys with good cores and good potential, call them and hope for a backup message, and then wait. I promise you guys will drop to you even though it feels like they wont. As recruiting goes longer and teams begin to sign players you will also notice FSS prices begin to drop. Even if players you noticed at the beginning of recruiting don’t fall to you you will now be able to buy FSS for some further away states and get the drop downs in those states that more local schools didn’t wait for. The key again is Patience.
The last thing to address is Walk Ons. If you don’t fill your scholarship you will take a walk on. A walk on is awful and should get no minutes for your team. If you take one he will be gone next year unless you offer him a scholarship (DON’T!) It is ok to take a walk on or two, some of the best teams do it. I would rather take a walk on and use the scholarship next year on a good player then sign a crappy player I’ll be stuck with for 4 years just to fill my scholarships. However when you have more than 2 walk ons it effects your teams practices so you should never take more than 2. Just know taking 1 or 2 is not a sign of failure and I often have a walk on on my teams.