Each Maine high school basketball season, many players have the dream of becoming a scholarship player at a Division I college. How realistic is this dream?
There are usually just one or two Maine high school players each year, from the boys and girls senior classes, who get offered a free ride to a DI college anywhere in the country right out of high school.
What does it take to become a DI prospect?
First, the players by the beginning of their junior years should become 13-monthers: crowding in 13 months of basketball and training into a 12-month year.
— be involved in a full-time strength program for basketball players,
— be involved in a speed and quickness program for basketball players,
— work on their game constantly,
— work on their fundamental weaknesses and not on their strengths, and
— become involved with a high-quality AAU basketball program.
They should also develop high basketball IQs for the ability to make great basketball decisions. Another important consideration is attending a prep school as they should be good enough to receive a full prep school scholarship to be considered a legitimate DI scholarship prospect.
They also must understand that their 12- to 15-week high school basketball season is all about team and not about an individual. Their responsibility is to help their team to become as good as it can be at the expense of their own individual development. It is not a high school basketball coach's responsibility to develop players for college.
A DI prospect's off-season program is designed to make him or her a better player as an individual and that is where a strong AAU program can be of great advantage. It gives the prospect an opportunity for far more individual exposure to DI coaches.
The importance of attending prep school is of the utmost for any Maine player with DI aspirations. It will give the player another year to mature physically and mentally and, most important, it will give the player the same kind of time commitment, travel, 30-plus-game schedule and fall workouts that the colleges do at all levels. This means that a prospect will start with a fall workout and playing time from the opening of school until the basketball season starts in mid-October and ends in March and then head to spring workouts.
But most important of all, by attending a prep school it will truly give the player the answer to what level of college basketball they really belong and if they are DI prospects deserving of a scholarship.
By going to prep school it should eliminate the need to redshirt in college as a college player has five years to play four years from the time the player enters a four-year college program. The advantage of going to prep school over attending a junior college is that in junior college your five years to play four years time clock is ticking, but in prep school, it is not.
A high school player from Maine has never played in the NBA. There are approximately 600 high school seniors from each gender playing basketball in Maine each season, but only one or two will be offered a DI scholarship. These players should really consider DII and NAIA DI/DII as they also give scholarships. DIII colleges offer no basketball scholarships.
Remember, the most important thing in selecting a college is to get the type of education you want for your future and then the basketball should come second.
Bob Cimbollek is a retired high school basketball coach and is a basketball official.