This article was written by Tigh Compton. He is in his fifth season (13-14) as an assistant coach at the University of Pikeville. During his time on the bench at UPIKE, he has helped guide the Bears to the 2011 NAIA Division I National Championship, as well as the 2014 Mid-South Conference Championship.
Ask any coach around and they will tell you that successful recruiting is key if you want to have a successful program. Many times success is less about the X’s and O’s, and more about the “Jimmy’s and Joe’s”. As a coach, finding a talented player for your program may not be enough.
How a player “fits” into your school, program, and even community can be just as important. I believe in using the recruiting ABC’s (Academics, Basketball, Character) to help identify how a player may or may not be the right fit for our program.
It should be every coach’s priority to make sure their student athletes are willing and capable of handling their business in the classroom. It should be every athlete’s priority to make sure they are upholding the student commitment in being a student-athlete. However, it is not always that easy.
When recruiting a player, it is important to make sure that each player can be successful academically at YOUR institution. In the same way that each player and their abilities to perform in the classroom differ, each institution and their academic resources and academic assistance also differ. Make sure that your respective institution and program can meet the need of each student athlete you recruit.
This is the easiest of the ABC’s for most coaches to evaluate. What are your team’s needs? What positions do you need to fill? It is important to have a vision for your team, and if you are an assistant coach, your head coach’s vision for the team.
Are you recruiting players to your program that fit the vision of your team or the vision of your head coach? Will the recruit be successful in your team’s style of play? Is the recruit a good teammate, and will their personality give them a chance to be successful in your program, school, and community? Talent alone can certainly get a player on the board, but it must be a good overall fit for both the player and the team or else neither will reach their full potential.
Character may be last on the list, but it is certainly not the least important. Evaluating character can be a very tough thing to do. However, with so much social media available today, it is easier than ever to see into the day-to-day lives and actions of a potential recruit. Can the recruit represent your program, school, and community in a manner that is acceptable to you or to your head coach?
This must be one of the first questions you ask yourself. Making sure a player’s character fits into the vision you or your head coach has for the program is crucial to achieving success. Does the player have the mentality on and off the court to handle the style of coaching he will be receiving at your institution? How does the player handle adversity or pressure?
As it is with any evaluation process, it is impossible to always get it right. There is always a bit of guesswork involved in each decision. Program priorities change from time to time, as well as the wants and needs of the student-athlete. However, one way to make the evaluation process easier is to make sure you know what you are looking for. Once you know what you stand for, it is easier to make the tough decisions that are necessary for a coach to make. Decide what is important for you and your program, and find players that have a great chance to be successful in all aspects program, school, and community. Hopefully the recruiting ABC’s help you when it comes time to narrow down those recruiting lists this summer.