What makes a good basketball Prospect?

High School
Nevada

Posted On: 02/1/18 11:35 AM

In this day and age there are so many people who write about kids and talk about kids playing sports, especially basketball.  As an ex-coach and current writer I think that we need to look some of the fallacies about things people say what makes a good prospect for college.  Now I emphasize “college” not a future pro.  There is a huge difference there.

How important is scoring?:  This is it.  A kid must be able to score if he wants to play in college.  Every kid going into college basketball of any level must have a toolbox of ways to score in the game.  Typically it is looked at in three areas: at the basket, mid-range, and long distance.  The very best prospects have that covered and can finish with both hands in multiple ways besides dunking.  You won’t be able to dunk that easy in college so you better learn to finish.  Coaches don’t want to teach you how to score once they sign you.

Passing is good thing….  There are players who make their mark by being the setup man during a game.  Assists are a key stat as they usually dictate team success and winning.  Two areas I would track were total rebounding margin and assist totals.  They usually correlate to wins.  Passing is a underrated skill.  Let’s be honest, no kid spends his spare time working on passing.  Its ball handling and shooting.  Therefore great passers are rare because kids don’t practice the skill as much.

What about playing defense? Every kid should be able to play defense but let’s break this down into two areas, on the ball and help side.  On the ball defense is about staying in front, reading ball screens and how to get around them.  Help side defense is about rotations, reading two things at once and that is the hardest for most kids starting college.  A player I sent to a division I school told me the eye opening thing was how fast the defense rotates.  You might get past the first guy but the help side is there before you know it.  There is also a defensive specialist now that we refer to as “rim protectors” and this is a valued position.  You can be a tall player who blocks shots and grabs boards.  On the offensive side you will set ball screens.  College kids make a career that way.  I will say coaches will often think they can teach this in college.  Therefore this is a bonus if you can understand the nuances to help rotations.

Remember Charles Barkley? This is important.  Traditionally the biggest guy doesn’t always get the rebound in many situations.  Its the guy who wants it the most.  Tenacity and technique for rebounding is key.  80% of kids were taught some form of boxing out but they don’t do it.  Watch a game and see if any of them really put a player on his butt.  It can be position relevant as well.  Bigs are valued for their scoring, rebounding and rim protecting.  If a guard rebounds well than it pushes his stock further.

Ball Handling: This one is a given for most guard positions.  You either have it or you don’t.  It can also separate kids from different levels based on their change of direction ability.

Intangibles:   Mental makeup, off court issues, Grades, leadership, are all valuable.  Academic details of a prospect are very important.

As one can see there are many things that we look at.  Playing this game is not as simple as beating your man and getting to the rim.  Scoring is often the number 1 valued stat.  Every player that comes to a high level school can score.  It is the other elements that make a player the complete package.