High School Players – Learn What I Didn’t!

By Mason Waters

prowler sled

I’m writing to you preparing for my last season EVER playing basketball. This is my senior year of college, and this final season is going to be something special.

Well, that could be the opening line of this post had I known more about college basketball when I graduated high school a few years ago. I’m not a college basketball player, and won’t be, but I absolutely could have been. What I didn’t know and my own pride took me on a different course (and I’m appreciative it did).

High school players that aren’t in the NBPA’s top 100 nor have any amount of stars next to your name on Rivals.com, this post is for you. I want to share with you three things I wish I had known as a high school player so that you can benefit. Here they are:


Playing at ANY level of college basketball (Division 1, 2, 3, NAIA, JUCO, etc.) is amazing.

The game is the game no matter what level, and every single player in college basketball can hoop. I promise you. The first Division Two game I saw in my first year of college left this phrase, “Dang. These guys are good” playing over and over in my head. For real, they good.


Consider that scholarship out of state.

We humans grow in all areas, emotionally, spiritually, developmentally, and all the rest when we are challenged. When we are in a foreign environment. When we’re a little “off”. Your only scholarship might be from a small school 10 hours away. To me as a high school player, that sounded awful coming out of high school. But with just 4 years of life experienced gained from those days, it sounds really attractive. I wish I had the time in this post to explain how many college students I know that went to a school that wasn’t at the top of their list that they ended up absolutely loving. And vice versa. I know as many students who went to their “dream school” and had fun, but their experience didn’t meet their expectations and when graduation rolled around, they had been ready to leave for a year. Don’t pre-determine the quality of your college experience before you even get there. Think, “This random college I had never heard about might hold an amazing experience for me.”


Sell yourself (& 8 specific ways to do this).

I was a run of the mill guy. You know the phrase, “If you’re talented enough, the college coaches will find you”? Well, that wasn’t true for me. I don’t know if that was a lie, or I wasn’t good enough to get looks, probably the latter. If college coaches aren’t beating down your door, you’ve got to sell yourself.

  1. Ask your high school or club coaches what level they think you are best suited for. Then ask if they have any schools in mind that you could reach out to. Also, be honest and humble. If 4/5 of your coaches and mentors say you’re a D3 player, humbly accept you’re probably a D3 player (If you want to play D2 or D3 absolutely go for it, walk on, etc).
  2. Develop communication skills. When you go to a camp, invite experienced coaches into your recruitment. Camp and summer counselors aren’t just summer counselors. They are often high school, college, or NBA guys who have experience at multiple levels that can get you in contact with a school, coach, or evaluator that can help your journey.
  3. Tell the college coach about your work ethic, your morales. (Obviously, this advice isn’t for everyone). If you have never touched alcohol, smoked anything, or you have a strict daily workout schedule that you are dedicated to, tell the college coach that. Let them know you wake up everyday at 5:30 before school to shoot a thousand shots or whatever it is that you are proud of. I think there are a lot of college coaches at each level of basketball who would love a disciplined, good-teammate, well behaved, high character player.
  4. Have amazing social media. Twitter won’t get you a scholarship alone, but it can contribute to one. Tweet at your teammates and give them shoutouts. That shows you’re a great teammate. Instagram a picture of your 6 am workout. (You have to actually be working though!) Retweet accounts that are all about success and winning.
  5. Do well in school. Easy enough?
  6. Surround yourself with the right people. Want to be a Division 1 player upon graduating high school? Find where the D1 players workout in your city, or find the trainer and coaches who send guys to the D1 level often. That will help elevate your game. Also, don’t hangout with knuckleheads. “If you sleep with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas.” “The quality and direction of your life will be determined by the five closest people in your life.” Surround yourself with the type of people that you want to become.
  7. Train like a college player. If I wanted to sell myself as a high school player to Coach K and Duke, I would master the 1-mile run and 3/4 court sprint. Why? Because those two tests are very important metrics to the Duke Basketball team. I learned that coaching alongside their strength coach, Will Stephens, this summer at their camp. As a high school player, if the coaching staff saw a student-athlete already training like the team and valuing the type of physical tests they value, well, that would be a big positive.
  8. Write hand written letters. There’s something attractive about people who just do things differently. Every single high school player is texting or tweeting their potential college coach. But how many are writing hand written letters? Very few. Write a letter to each member of a coaching staff that you’d like to play for and include things mentioned above. Write them weekly, bi-monthly, or however often you want.

That’s it… For now

These are a few considerations that will benefit your shots at a scholarship if you put them into practice. I appreciate you reading this article and I hope it adds value to you. If you could share this post on social media or text it to a teammate, I would greatly appreciate so that more people would hear this message.

Optimistic for your career,

MW

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Mason Waters is a recent college graduate from the University of North Georgia, and an assistant coach at West Forsyth High School transitioning into the college game. You can find out more about him by visiting www.masonwaters.live.

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