Choosing A School (Part 2)
They say when you get to college you can throw rankings out the window, for the most part, this is true. Rankings for what they're worth is not a guarantee for success in college. Outside of entertainment value, rankings can range from an identifier of talent to totally worthless. If a player can play, it doesn't necessarily mean that she will be ranked or that her ranking reflects her skill level and on the same token, if a player is ranked it doesn't necessarily mean that she can play at the level of her ranking. Many will agree with the previous statement about rankings not guaranteeing success in college, but to be totally honest, neither does talent.
Many talented players have found careers for themselves on college benches and I'm not sure if there's an absolute formula to determine whether or not a player will play. Certainly a division one player riding the bench doesn't by any means indicate that the player was a bust. This has been shown many times as a player leaves for a new team (sometimes a better team than the previous one) and her career takes off.
I'm not one to advocate transfers, as the idiom "the grass is always greener..." So eloquently states. I actually would rather players work out their current situations and remember why they loved the school in the first place. In my days of playing and coaching, college coaches routinely drafted players with the thought of them playing in two to three years of joining the team to replace the graduating senior. Freshmen or sophomores rarely got a lot of playing time unless they were a "blue chip" player or there was an injury. Fast forward to present day NCAA, freshmen come in with the expectation to play immediately and to keep up with recruiting pretty much every college coach will promise that they will play. The end result is coaches with 20-25% of their roster confused and unhappy. With only a fraction of players actually fortunate enough to get a college scholarship whatever your playing status is, can players really be miserable? The purpose here is to figure out how to pick the right school for you to get on the floor.
Picking the right school trumps rankings and talent and is the most effective way to having a successful career. Let's face it, prolonged time on the pine can break even the best of players and confident players reach their full potential. Here's a short list of do's that may help in picking a school that will get you on the floor.
1) Team Dynamics - Look carefully at the roster that you will enter on. How many players are at your perspective position?
2) Be recruited, don't recruit - See how persistent the school is in getting your services. Are you trying to sell yourself to the coach more than he is selling the program to you?
3) Do the math - Coaches can only play 5 players at a time and no more than 8 players can play significant minutes. Are you joining 15 player roster, what number are you in the depth chart?
4) Choose down - Choose a school a level down from where you think you should be playing.
5) Be patient - Don't commit out of emotion or fear. Time sensitive offers isn't a good indicator of future playing time.
6) Don't believe the hype - You are a high school player and like all high school players you can improve. Don't let your ego be fed to believe you are the "next big thing", it's a sure path to unhappiness.
7) Don't chase names - Pretty much every division one campus has the same thing presented differently. Discrediting smaller programs for the big name could be a disaster.
8) Enjoy what you do - Whether or not your on the floor have fun, don't let playing time define you and don't give anyone the power to dictate whether you will be happy or sad by how much playing time they give you. Find things outside of the game that truly make you happy and embrace them and you will be successful.
9) Stay positive - This is for parents, believe it or not most kids want to please their parents more than they actually want to play. If you constantly reaffirm how proud you are of them and minimize the emphasis on playing time and performance they will be much happier players.
10) Have a plan - As you've heard me say many times before, always have a Plan B.