“It’s not just playing ball when you’re at a D1 school,” James Ingram, the Head Men’s Basketball Coach told a group of eager-to-advance SFS club players before a recent practice. “Your work ethic becomes everything.” The Northeast Lakeview Coach and Owner of Sportz Highlightz Sports Marketing spoke with the Stone Oak based club team about what it takes to be recruited today, especially amid a pandemic.
Ingram led his discussion with the current state of recruitment and eligibility due to the impact of COVID-19. According to Ingram, the number one and perhaps biggest change any student looking at playing at the college level will currently see is the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes. According to ncsasports.org, athletes in NCAA Divisions 1, 2, and 3 as well as those in the NAIA and NJCAA, have been granted an extra year of eligibility whether they compete in the 2020-21 season or not. The Division 3 committee went further. It is allowing 2020-21 spring sport athletes an extra year of eligibility too.
What does this mean for athletes not yet competing at the college level? The ruling will likely affect coaches upcoming rosters, namely, how many new recruits they’ll pick up. “Looking at a school’s roster will be very important,” said Ingram.
For those new to the idea of college athletic recruitment, the process can be overwhelming. Ingram should know. Years ago he helped his own daughter navigate a journey that ultimately landed her a scholarship opportunity with Alcon State University. But it wasn’t easy. He had to be bold. He had to spend hours upon hours researching. He tirelessly made phone calls and sent emails around the clock. Quickly, Ingram learned that the kind of persistence needed to help get his daughter on the college basketball radar and eventually a college court would have to be fierce.
As a result, what Ingram learned during his journey to help his daughter nab a college scholarship he decided to share with people outside his immediate circle. Knowing he could help a variety of athletes as he did his daughter, Ingram launched a sports marketing company.
Having the unique perspective of both the college basketball coach and sports marketer, Ingram was kind enough to highlight what he believes are some of the must-do, beginning steps athletes of any sport can and should take when looking to enter the college recruiting process.
They were as follows:
- Register and be certified in the NCAA Eligibility Center. Once a player is registered he is assigned a number. The number is how the NCAA Eligibility Center tracks status and certification. Players should start their process by their sophomore year in high school.
- Search college teams’ rosters. “You can go to a roster and tell right away what a specific coach wants,” Ingram said. “Then you ask yourself where might I fit in.” Specifically Ingram directed the SFS players to look at the height and weight of players on a college roster, as well as a player’s academic accomplishments, which should be listed. Read the bios of the players.
- Begin saving footage for a highlight video.
- When creating a highlight tape, put your best stuff first and show variety. The highlight tape also should include a full game, too. Ingram told the high school athletes that their game film is their resume.
- Strive for your absolute best grade point average. The minimum GPA for a D1 athlete is a 2.3. “College coaches get paid by team GPA so trust me, that matters,” said Ingram. Several times during the talk Ingram compared two athletes with different stats and which he’d go with, sharing the perspective of a coach. He always prioritized academics.
- Maintain a positive relationship and reputation with your high school coach. Ingram said he almost always calls a potential recruit’s high school coach to learn what the player’s like both on and off the court. Ingram added, “I need to know if the kid is a cancer of a team. Does he party too much? Does he get good grades? Is he a good teammate?”.
- Do not overlook school questionnaires. Fill them out.
- Conduct yourself appropriately on social media. Ingram said most coaches have someone whose sole job is to monitor players’ social media.
In addition to specific tips, Ingram talked to high school players about keeping their real and ultimate purpose in mind, when going through the recruiting process. Ingram said it’s not always about playing. Instead, he stressed that it should be about an opportunity for an education. Also, Ingram said too many up and coming high school stand outs today zone in on D1 as if that’s the only option. Or a big D1 school at that. Sure, some players get recruited to play at big D1 schools and quickly get play time. But most do not, according to Ingram. With a brutal sense of honesty, Ingram reminded students to remain realistic and humble.
To recognize the value in playing at a smaller school or division.
In fact, humbleness, maintaining a strong work ethic, a sense of being grounded, and high academics were the key concepts SFS players walked away with, after the hour with James Ingram. They are hardly new concepts, however, to our up and coming players. The desire to work harder than everyone else around you while remaining grounded despite the level of success achieved and to always put school work first are among Shooting For Success’ core values that Coach David Jones hammers home to his players time and time again. And more importantly, expects them to demonstrate in return. Knowing, that if these important characteristics – core values – are adopted early and thoroughly, they’ll likely take these SFS players far. Probably helping them to land on a college basketball roster one day soon.