What does it take to play basketball in college? And how to improve your chances.

College basketball coaches typically look for basketball players who have good basketball fundamentals, put in the extra effort to be great, can handle pressure well, are team players, and are competitive. Conversely, basketball coaches won’t typically recruit basketball players who are lazy or lack basketball skills. To best find these talented basketball players, college basketball coaches rely on scouting services to evaluate and rank high school basketball players.

The chances of a high school basketball player making it to the “next level” and playing college ball are exceedingly rare. In reality, just 3.4 percent of high school students go on to play collegiate basketball. Even more dramatically, just 0.8% of NBA draft picks come from colleges in Division I or higher.

In other words, it means that only 0.03 percent of high school basketball players will ever play in the NBA! Here are some more intriguing statistics on the number of college basketball scholarships available compared to the number of high school basketball players. But let’s take things a step at a time and focus on how players can perform ball in college,

Many factors go into whether a player will be recruited for a college basketball team, including the following

  • The player’s height and weight can make or break their chances of being recruited by a coach
  • The level of competition they have been playing at is also important to consider when looking into recruiting players 
  • A good GPA and test scores could help players get noticed by coaches from other schools 
  • The amount of time you’ll have to practice outside of school hours 


What does it take to make a college basketball team?

You must love the game

It’s painfully obvious that not everyone enjoys the game. Players enjoy being the center of attention or receiving awards, or they play because their parents like it, or simply because they’re tall. Players who play for reasons other than the love of the game tend not to perform at the collegiate level.

Why? Because college basketball is difficult! It’s a demanding full-time job! College basketball players frequently miss out on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as spring breaks. In addition, there is much more pressure in college hoops.

Because college teams want to win

In college, you’re playing against the best players in the country. Players who are not passionate about basketball and only play to win may feel overwhelmed by the competition level and eventually give up. Schools want to win, and coaches’ jobs are on the line! Practices are rigorous, lasting three hours or more. That doesn’t include conditioning, looking at the tape, and your regular college workload.

You must be able to listen and accept coaching

Players who cannot take criticism or who think they know everything will have a difficult time playing for a college team. Coaches will push players to work harder and perform better. If you don’t accept coaching or try to do things your way, it won’t be easy for you to play at the college level, because chances are that your coach won’t let you!

You must have an excellent work ethic

To reach the college level, you must have a strong work ethic to improve your skills. To practice your game, sacrifices will be required. Parties may need to be skipped, leisure time with friends might need to be put on hold, and holidays may have to be delayed; all of this is disregarded by those who have a strong work ethic.

You must keep your grades up

To play in college, you must maintain a certain GPA and take the required courses. This is especially true for Division I schools, where scholarship players are expected to meet or exceed academic requirements to maintain their scholarships. You need to watch your daily habits that could affect your schoolwork. Can’t miss a class? You can’t play.

You must pass NCAA Clearinghouse Eligibility Requirements

To play in college, you must be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center. This process is in place to ensure that only players who meet academic and amateurism standards are able to compete.  The NCAA Clearinghouse Eligibility Requirements are not difficult to meet but must be completed to compete at the collegiate level.

Playing basketball in college is a commitment. It’s a full-time job that requires many hours of practice, time spent with coaches, and excellent grades. If you’re not passionate about the game and don’t play to win, you won’t make it far in college hoops.

Advanced basketball skills

Basic basketball fundamentals don’t cut it; you must have advanced basketball skills to complete at the next level. College coaches want players who can shoot, pass, rebound and defend. If one or more of these areas is lacking, then your chances of being recruited by that college coach are slim to none!

You must have the physical attributes

In addition to advanced basketball skills, you must have the physical attributes to compete in college. College players are bigger, faster, and stronger than high school players. If you can’t keep up with the competition level, you won’t make it far.

Players who don’t meet these requirements shouldn’t be discouraged; there are other options such as playing in a lower level of college basketball or playing at a junior college.


Basketball is usually better suited for taller people, as anyone who has seen a professional basketball game or turned on the television knows. Taller players are generally more effective.

Again, a small player may still have a chance to play at the next level, such as Mugsey Bogues or Spudd Webb, but they’ll need to make up for it in other areas, like speed and quickness.


Simply said, players must be able to pass, catch, dribble, shoot, and so on while running, jumping, diving, and sliding.


Athleticism is required of NCAA prospects. Players don’t need to be as athletic as Russell Westbrook, but they should be coordinated and able to leap, slide, and run frequently and quickly.


Players who are out of shape, overweight, and limited to only a few sprints up and down the court never reach their potential, no matter how talented they are.

Set realistic expectations

Not all players can attend schools like North Carolina, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, and others. Not every player can play at the Division 1 level. Junior College and Prep Schools are two excellent choices for many players. Some players may need to go to Junior College first. It may be beneficial to consider a Prep School to be recruited by the college of their choice.

This, in my view, is one of the most difficult areas for players and parents to grasp: they are unrealistic. So, how can a player or parent tell if he or she is being realistic? If a kid wants to play at Duke but isn’t regarded among the top 25-50 players nationally in his or her class, there’s not

If a player believes he or she is a Division 1 player but isn’t “recruited” (phone calls, emails, letters, etc.) by any DI programs, that player is most likely incorrect. That player will generally be heavily recruited by schools on the level that that individual is probably capable of playing whether it’s DII, III, or junior college.

How to improve your chances of playing college basketball

Find the Right AAU Team

There are a number of misconceptions about college recruiting and the NCAAEliteAcademyAu. While it is true that some organizations have been accused of “targeting” particular players, this could not be farther from the truth when compared to other methods for exposing players to higher levels of competition beginning in middle school through high school, junior colleges into

Attend Elite and/or Showcase Camps

Attendance at a certain college’s “elite” camp is usually worth it if a player has particular colleges in mind that they’d like to potentially play for. A lot of their recruits visit for a few days. Not all schools do this, although most do have some sort of “elite” camp and players can typically discover information about it from their high school coach or from the college’s website.

Showcase camps, on the other hand, are often privately run by organizations without any particular school affiliation. In reality, like AAU basketball, the showcase camp environment has been over-run and is frequently packed with individuals who make all types of promises but cannot deliver.

Create a Basketball Highlight Video

Create a semi-professional-looking video with highlights and a half-game or full game. These two parts may be on the same video or on separate videos, but coaches must view both.

A basketball highlight video is often the first encounter a college coach has with a player. If you’re fortunate, this might lead to becoming a prospect. The highlights are included in the video so that a college coach may evaluate a player’s strengths while the half or whole game allows the coach to have a much better feel for the player’s entire game

Make List of Colleges and Email Them

Once a player has the list of schools and corresponding emails, that player should create a personalized email for each particular college’s coaching staff and send them an email that includes:

  • A personalized introduction
  • Why you are interested in playing basketball AND attending THEIR school?
  • Personal and basketball experience, including recent basketball statistics
  • Name, address, and phone number of the player, parent(s), high school coach, and AAU coach
  • Should include highlight video and game video in addition to recruiting videos — should be included.
  • Basketball season upcoming high school varsity schedule or AAU team schedule

In conclusion, making a college basketball team is not easy. It requires players to have a love for the game, be able to take coaching, and have a strong work ethic. Players must also possess advanced basketball skills to compete at the collegiate level. If you’re thinking about playing basketball in college, these are things you’ll want to consider. Remember, it’s important to be realistic when it comes to your abilities and set achievable goals. There are many levels of college basketball and players can find the best fit for their skills and interests.

If you don’t play at the next level it doesn’t mean you can’t continue to improve your game and enjoy the game of basketball for years to come.


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