So I’ve had this lingering headache over the last few days and I wasn’t exactly sure what it was until this morning.
The diagnosis: Club basketball season is upon us.
Spring and summer hoops is a glorious (kidding) time when you hear “coaches” screaming offensive strategies like “Run!” “Push it!” “Iso!” and “Do him!”
A time when you see players “getting buckets,” going 1-on-5 and throwing up a wild shot, waving off screens to “expose” the guy guarding him, “catching a body,” or a big man trying to lead a fast break, and then some of those same players switch teams when they don’t get the amount of shots they want.
As someone who communicates regularly with college coaches at all levels, the traits mentioned above aren’t things that will get you recruited, especially if you’re not 6-foot-10 Kevin Durant clone, and how many of you reading this are the next KD? I’d venture to guess a big ol’ goose egg.
There are things - beyond dropping 40 points or throwing down a nasty dunk off of a lob - that will make you stand out to scouts and college coaches this spring and summer.
Here are five of the most important characteristics, both on and off the court, I look for when scouting spring and summer AAU basketball:
Is the prospect a good teammate?
It’s frustrating when you throw a pinpoint pass and the guy you dished to blows the layup. I get pissed at dudes who blow my assists at 24 Hour Fitness, so trust me, I know the feeling. But instead of throwing your hands up in disgust and yelling something negative at culprit, try picking him up with something positive. Clap your hands, give him a high-five and encourage him to get the next one.
Does the prospect display a good attitude?
This goes hand-in-hand with being a good teammate, but it also extends to the bench, in warmups and off the court. Any scout or coach will tell you that body language is KEY. Sure, it’s tough to be locked-in when playing four to five games in a day, but remember it’s one of the more important things coaches and scouts (at least this scout) look for.
Below are a few examples of poor body language attributes I examine:
Does the player sit at the end of the bench when subbed out, slumped in his chair, not engaged with what’s happening on the court?
Does he dick-around with teammates on the bench?
Does he stay in his seat and not join huddles during timeouts?
Does he walk off the court when subbed out?
Does he roll his shoulders and drop his head if his team is getting run out of the gym?
Does he gloat and taunt when his team is running a team out of the gym? Playing with passion is great - I don’t like players to be robots - just don’t be disrespectful about it.
Is he overly-critical and demonstrative when a teammate makes a mistake?
Does he go through the motions during warmups? Or is he focused and going game speed?
Is the prospect coachable?
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen a kid roll his eyes at a coach, walk away before the coach is done talking to him or flat-out look in another direction when being spoken to. If a college coach sees something to that effect during live viewing period, do you think an offer is coming in the near future? Probably not. No coach wants to deal with that kind of behavior.
If your coach calls you over while the opponent is shooting free throws, run (don’t walk) over, look him in his or her eyes, listen intently and go execute whatever it is he or she relayed to you.
Does the prospect make the intangible, fundamental and winning plays?
If there’s a loose ball, dive on it. If you see a guy barreling out of control into the paint, step over and take a charge. Sit down in a defensive stance. Talk on defense. Rub shoulder-to-shoulder off of a screener. Set a hard screen. Don’t leave your feet to pass. Jump-stop in the lane. Use your pivot-foot. Back the ball out if you don’t have numbers. Throw a bounce pass. Most importantly, make the extra pass.
What kind of Social Media presence does the prospect maintain?
Worldstar videos are funny, sure, but do you think college coaches are interested in that kind of humor? Some kids follow and retweet Twitter accounts that post videos of people beating the shit out of each other; college coaches are definitely not interested in seeing that. Most kids utilize Twitter and other social media in harmless way to communicate and joke with their friends, which is all fine and dandy, but there are lines that get crossed more often than not.
All schools monitor the social media use of players they are recruiting and sometimes have a single person responsible for researching a prospects’ activity across social media platforms. Offers are earned and lost with the decision to hit the “send” button or not. If you think what you’re about to post might strike the wrong cord, don’t hit send.