5 Tips for Choosing a Summer Basketball Team
In today's landscape of high school and club basketball, players don't really get a break between seasons so much as change uniforms. As playoffs and state tournaments crown their champions the club teams are in the gym getting ready for the ever busier spring and summer schedule.
Whether you're staying with a club you've played with in the past or moving to a new program, get some assurances before investing your time and recruitment prospects with any group or individual.
With so much of the collegiate recruiting process based on nonscholastic teams and events, there's way too much on the line to settle for less than you deserve from a club coach or program director.
Look for a club that offers continued skill development. It's a critical time in the career of any high school recruit and simply playing games doesn't serve the top-ranked prospects or those just hoping to gain some attention. Sadder still are the number of squads that hold a minimal number of team practices if they hold any at all.
Demand that your coach gets you on the floor beyond just game time. Get a guarantee that they'll do their best to both make you a better player individually as well as prepare your team for the events you're going to compete in. It's not enough to play the game; you have to work at it, too.
Check the club's schedule of events closely. Before you commit to a team be sure you know definitively what events they're going to be playing in this spring and summer. Don't simply take their word that they're going to be at "all the top events." Ask them to provide the complete schedule up front. You need to let recruiters know where you'll be playing and your family needs to be able to make travel plans.
Also be sure what bracket or tier they may be playing in during each event. Playing in the third or fourth division at an event isn't going to get too many recruiters courtside. Additionally, if it's a talented, young group ask if they'll be "playing up." It's important to be challenged by older and better competition to show college coaches your true potential. Playing in a younger age group may help you constantly win by 20 and take home some trophies, but won't do much to advance your game.
Be careful about overscheduling. Obviously the spring evaluation period only allows for one event, but July has the potential to be a real problem. There are two separate 10-day evaluation segments with a five day break in between. Playing two events each segment doesn't overextend the athletes and allows for travel time.
In the past, teams who have tried to squeeze three events into one or both segments have ended up exhausted and it showed in their play. The extra events aren't worth the price you pay and in terms of fatigue, risk of injury and poor performance. Besides, if coaches can't find the time to see you play in the other four tournaments, you're probably not at the top of their list.
Check out your club's roster. Be sure you know up front what position you'll be playing and how many others on the team will occupy that same spot. If you're a high school post hoping to play the wing during the summer you don't want to be playing for a team lacking inside players. One injury or some bad performances and you'll be back on the block missing your opportunity to expand and grow your game.
Do your homework on the talent level of your potential teammates as well. There's nothing advantageous about being the go-to player if you don't have any help around you. Conversely, if you're in over your head, it will be hard to be evaluated and recruited while sitting on the bench.
The club coach's relationship with college coaches is not as important as you think. When club coaches make their "pitch" to athletes and parents, this is one of the most overplayed selling points. No doubt it's important, but not remotely to the degree some would have you believe. If recruiters see you play and they like what you do they'll be there whether they know your coach or not. An established relationship with the college crowd can sometimes get them in the gym to see you play, but it won't get you an offer.
If you're talented enough and playing well, they'll find you anyway. Recruiters are a resourceful and greedy bunch. With job security being extraordinarily fragile these days, college coaches have more riding on every recruit than ever before. The word of even the most reliable club coach by itself isn't enough to get a good evaluator past any concerns they may have with aspects of your game. It's up to you to do that on the floor.
Somewhere along the line club coaches and program directors became de facto recruiting coordinators and many aspects of club basketball got bumped down the priority list.
There are a limitless number of concerns that could be raised by different players and parents, each looking for different things from their club experience. The most important thing is to ask questions and get confirmation on what you'll be getting from a particular coach or team.
Even if it's a coach you've played with for years, he or she still needs to provide you with the answers to your questions. New team or old team, the failure to ask can lead to a long, "hot" summer.