The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be. -Oprah Winfrey
I talk to so many student-athletes every month desperate for any direction, advice or "road map" on how to get to college; and with much more urgency, how to get exposure to college coaches. I have started using the 3-Legged Stool analogy with most of my student-athletes (SAs) because I think it is simple enough to believe in and significant enough to inspire and motivate each of the passionate young people to spend a little more time on their complete person and not so much just on their athletic acumen.
I always ask the student-athlete what happens when you knock a leg off of a 3-legged stool. The answer of "it falls down" usually quickly comes out of their mouth. I go on to explain that their respective recruitment works the very same way. Without three very strong, stable legs, coaches will have a hard time making a genuine investment of time (let alone scholarship) in them.
Leg #1: The first question I always asked of my assistants, a scout or a high school coach who may have reached out to me about a prospective player was "what is his/her grades and test scores?" 99% of the college coaches in the country are going to ask the same question verbatim. Without strong grades and test scores, coaches know that they cannot get that student-athlete through the admissions process at their school. They also know that it will be difficult, even if that SA does get admitted, for that family to receive a financial package that will suit the average families needs. So, without the grades/test scores, coaches will not waste their time recruiting you if they don't think it will be possible to admit you or help you financially.
Leg #2: I also have SAs that reach out to me for an evaluation who have awesome grades and test scores and cannot understand why coaches or more coaches are not knocking on their door. The second leg of that stool is obviously ability. What most SAs and their families do not understand is that coaches do NOT need to recruit you. Ability is much more than the natural gift to throw or shoot the ball. Coaches are looking for size, experience, significant competition levels (HS and Club), and an athleticism and skill set that is unique to the other young men/women they are recruiting. You have to be able to play, but you must have skills, size, and experience that sets you a part from your competition. Even if you are the best player in your small community and are averaging 35 points per game, your 5"10" size may keep coaches from even considering you a viable recruit if you are not big enough nor playing against good enough competition.
Leg #3: It is funny how Leg #3 often becomes the determining factor in the first 5 minutes of my evaluation with a SA. The third leg often is treated like the black sheep of the recruitment checklist, but it is equally important to grades and ability. A SA's character, values, humility, drive, determination, leadership...or lack of...can make or break a recruit's bid to get a scholarship or get recruited at all. I often tell the story of the 6'8" center that my staff sent me 6 hours in a car to go see. They were so impressed with his skill set, size, and grades that they assumed sending their boss on a 6-hour journey to see this "diamond in the rough" play would be a valuable use of my time and a feather in their cap in my evaluation of them as recruiters. As I walked into the gym that night, sat down, and opened up my briefcase, that particular young man and his team ran onto the floor for warm-ups. I knew who he was immediately because he was a giant compared to the other 25 young men on both ends of the floor. Nevertheless, I didn't even get a chance to pull out my notebook before I was packing up and walking out of the gym to drive home. In the first 2 minutes of being in this young man's presence, he lazily air-balled two lifeless finger-roll lay-ups, nonchalantly disregarded his teammates attempts to give him "five" as he passed them, and then brushed off his coach when the coach (as it seemed to me) asked him to put some true effort into warm-ups. As you can imagine, I was quickly back in my car for the long journey home not watching one-second of that young man play in a game. I then spent portions of the next 6 hours on my cell phone "educating" my young staff on the importance of doing their due diligence in researching a young man's character before putting me on the road to evaluate a young man who was not recruitable.
Like any strong stool, the legs cannot stand on their own. A good stool needs a strong seat holding the legs together. Keeping to this analogy, the seat of a SA's recruitment is commitment. Believe it or not, I talk to a handful of kids each week with great grades, awesome ability, and tremendous character who are simply not sure if they want to continue to put this great effort into athletics after high school. If you are not committed to continue to work to improve, compete for 4 more years and be recruited by coaches across your region or country, than you are an impossible prospect. There is no such thing as "pretty committed" or "kinda committed." You might as well tell a coach that you are "NOT Committed."
As you talk to yourself (student-athletes) or your players (coaches) about the recruitment process, stress to them the value of that 3-legged stool. If they are serious about competing in college, they must be realistic about how sturdy their 3-legged stool really is.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about this or recruitment in general!
Have a great day! Go make your dreams come true!
Coach Matt Rogers
Head National Scout
NCSA Athletic Recruiting