Say No To A “Division-I-Or-Bust” Mindset

Posted On: 03/20/18 10:02 AM

This time of year in the prep high school season you can touch base with a number of seniors and juniors for that matter regarding the next level and discover that their goals, or better yet their plans for the collegiate level are extremely misguided and uneducated.

Often times, with kids who have the skill set and basketball IQ to play at the next level, it is solely a Division I or bust mentality. Obviously, it is great to have that as the goal, but to discredit any sort of other level as a possibility is downright foolish.

Here are a few reasons why considering a lower level, or any offer and interest is wise for recruits.

Every path has to start somewhere

No matter the level you ultimately are seeking to play at, every single player’s journey has been different in getting there before you. There have been numerous examples of players that reached the professional ranks from lower level colleges, it is a fact and it certainly can be done.

Now more than ever, players at the Division I level are jockeying position, transferring after a season, using and sometimes abusing the platform. Once you arrive at the Division I level, does not mean you are good to go for the rest of your career, the work you put in before has just started all over again.

But, to simply put off any other opportunities that could lead you to the Division I level or beyond is something so many kids do, because they feel like they are being overlooked, or they think a path will not be there if they don’t play Division I basketball. This is not true.

As cliché as it may sound, hard work will get you to where you want to go. Whether it is at the JUCO level or NAIA, every player has had to start somewhere, and you can write your story without a Division I or bust mentality.

Expand your circle

Coaches have a fraternity. At every level, coaches are connected and have connections that reach beyond their current team or situation. So, that coach recruiting you to come play at his D2 team has a pedigree, he has connections and resources that have got him to that job. Use this to your advantage.

If you standout on and off the court for a coach in a lower level collegiate setting, chances are your coach or someone on that staff can recommend you to people outside of any circle you would have not had access to before joining that program. It’s called resourcing. It is a great way to build up your brand, and your notice as a player while getting high quality coaching along the way.

The quality of coaches below the Division I level is absolutely crazy, so many of them have had some sort of connection to the Division I level, but are currently on their own path for future success. Jumping in with a lower level program who’s coaches are connected well outside of the program to other areas is the best way to expand your circle. Communication and information has never been easier, but word of mouth from trusted resources still remains incredibly strong and valuable. Coaches believe this.

The next level is more talented than you think

Chew on this, the recent NAIA Final Four teams had six former Division I players who played in the Big 12, Mid-American Conference, Ohio Valley Conference, Missouri Valley Conference, and Western Athletic Conference, the Big 12 player played at Kansas.

The talent at the NAIA level is extremely high, go and see for yourself, go watch a game, the players are just as gifted and talented as you think you are. Players from this level also go on to have professional playing opportunities because again, they are super talented.

Don’t simply discredit the competition level because it is not Division I. This is a huge mistake and quite simply a lazy approach. Professional international teams sift through every level in the collegiate ranks to find potential contributors to their teams. If you stay domestically, there are numerous tryout and combine opportunities once you finish your collegiate career where your playing career will be valued and analyzed even if is not at the Division I ranks.

The basketball talent pool is as deep as it has ever been, you can and will be challenged at any collegiate level or junior college level, it is a numbers game at this point. Go and be challenged, don’t wait for a Division I offer, because it may never come at all and you will be sitting on the sidelines rather than competing against top-level talent at another level.

Don’t have a Division I or bust mindset, you are cheating yourself of so much if you do.