• 55°

Athlete Overlooked

It seems each and every year there is a great athlete that hasn’t been approached by any college. He or she is a star on their team and gives 100 percent on and off the court. They practice hard, they compete hard and they do all the right things off the court but for a strange and unknown reason the offers do not come or are basically inadequate.

It is stated that one athlete out of 14 actually get to college and one out of 54 actually play Division I athletics. There over 1,200 NCAA colleges and the NAIA adds a few hundred more. The difference is that the NCAA offers more athletic programs and full scholarships where NAIA offers scholarship opportunities but not many offer full rides. The average for NAIA is around $7,000 and they have less athletic programs.

It is said to get noticed in high school nowadays the athlete must make a highlight video about seven minutes long and send the link to colleges. Social media is a big plus as is coaching showcases. Of course he or she needs to keep grades up and be involved in the community. Participation in travel teams is also recommended.

Now when you see this happening and the athlete is still overlooked it is bewildering. He or she has done everything right but has nothing to show for it. With so many schools and programs why do great players get overlooked?

Yes, injuries do play a role in all of this but so does the location of the high school itself. Why would a recruiter come to one school at a distance so far away from a second location where he can see multiple athletes, many on the same day of recruiting? This is true in academia as well.

Coach Corey McGinnis said this about why a player may not be recruited, “I’m not really sure, maybe in some cases it’s because the player was a late bloomer.”

Claiborne Lady Bulldogs coach Ariel Nickell had another explanation, “Unfortunately sometimes it is the coaches not getting the players names out there.”

Cory Cheek coaches boys basketball at Cumberland Gap offered this opinion, “A lot of families in our area are low in socioeconomic status and can’t afford quality AAU programs, plus our middle schools have to get better at teaching a “big kid” for example 6’2” or 6’3” or 6’4” not to just be a post because that is the height of a college guard. A lot of big kids get parked under the basket from the start of their basketball career and are not taught the fundamentals necessary for guard play. To me, players in this area don’t get the exposure they need. That starts with a coach. The coach has to help his players create highlight films and send them to college coaches.”

Cheek added, “Also, I think this area has a stigma for players going to college and quitting with the grind of college ball. Can you name the last player from our area who went and started at a college basketball program and didn’t quit after one or two years? In college, you wake up, go to class, go to an individual workout, eat lunch, go back to class, go to practice, then have film study, then do homework, and wake up and repeat. I don’t think a lot of kids are prepared for that grind. So, I believe it’s a multitude of things that contribute to players getting overlooked from our area. The biggest being coaches having connections and being willing to expose their athletes.”

Local athletes can do everything right but still not get the break they need but if they practice and play hard, keep their grades up, get involved in travel teams, visit the coaches showcases and be sure to spread a highlight film over social media they will increase their chances of getting to sign that letter of intent. COVID-19 has made this process even harder but don’t give up, fight through whatever gets in the way and maybe- just maybe- you will succeed.