The recruitment of basketball varsity programs in all age levels are ongoing for the next school year. I myself as a parent would have my son attend the basketball varsity try-outs for the 12-under age group, hoping that he could make it not only for the opportunity of playing for the school varsity, but more importantly, being able to train on a high level and be instilled with more skills, discipline, and values that are needed to build character inside and outside the court.

In today’s basketball landscape in schools, colleges, and universities, many factors come into play, like the school’s tradition and values, the coach, his basketball and values system, and team sponsors and benefactors. Let’s discuss the green and red flags of varsity recruitment so as to help parents be able to have their children play in a school team that can help them not only advance their playing career but also holistically in their academic life, values system, and character.

  1. The School’s Tradition Values System

I placed this one first on the list because the school will be your children’s second home. They actually spend more time now in school than in your respective homes, so this one’s crucial. Evaluate the school’s academic and athletic tradition. Ask yourselves the following questions: Will my child be employable if he or she graduates from this school? Will my child learn to be a good business person if he/she earns a degree from this school? Will my child be a person of values and high character after their stint in this school? If the answer to these questions is in the affirmative, then proceed. Also, check on the alumni of the school. Schools usually use their prestigious alumni to market their institutions. Check also the academic policies of the school regarding student-athletes. If the school helps the student-athletes balance their schedule and discipline them holistically, then it’s a GO.

Talk also to former student-athletes of the school. Listen to their experiences. If a school is lax academically to student-athletes, then it’s a big red flag. That kind of culture reduces the school to just a diploma mill. Remember, the school will be forever connected to your child.

  1. The Coach – Basketball System, Values System, Attitude, and the Company they keep

The role of the coach is undeniably one of the biggest if not the biggest factor to consider. They are the child’s second parents in sports. They could make or break the future of an athlete. Parents by now must know their child’s skill set and strengths and weaknesses. First step is for parents to talk to the coach and know their needs. If the skill set of the child is aligned with the system of the coach, then have the child work out with the team so that the coach can evaluate if the skills that the child would bring in would fit the system. I remember talking to a friend who had a son already playing well for a school team. A coach approached him and recruited his son. The boy is tall but plays the shooting guard or small forward position. He could stretch the defense with his good outside shooting. But to the father’s dismay, his son’s three years in that particular school was wasted because the coach was playing the boy out of his position. The coach wanted to play the boy at the post where he was not accustomed. The boy ended up transferring to another school with half of his basketball dreams shattered.

Another thing to consider about coaches is their values, attitude, and the company they keep. Check the track record of the coach. When we say track record, it’s not just only his or her win-loss card or how many championships they have won. Check the last school they coached. How many years did they spend there? What is the culture they instilled in their players? If the coach just transferred to the school your child is enrolled, check why they left their previous employers. Were they kicked out by the school? Did they have any run-ins with their previous employers? Did they live and coach contrary to the values the school preached? If yes, stop right there and go to the next school. Don’t let your child be coached by someone who thinks bigger than themselves, even bigger than the school. Remember, as second parents of your children, you would not want your child to imbibe those bad attitudes. 

Also, listen to how the coach talks. If the coach curses too much or their words are crass, consider that as a red flag.

Check also the company that the coach keeps. Remember the saying, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” Know the coach’s circle. If they are surrounded with coaches who are into “selling” players for finder’s fee, avoid them. If they’re friends with shady personalities involved in suspected game-fixing issues, quit it.

Stick with coaches who have a high standard and regard for values such as honesty, integrity, and principles. Align your children with coaches who value education and not just winning, or worse, winning at all costs. Lastly, avoid coaches who will ask you for money to have your child be in the line-up or get minutes in the game. Let’s go back to the player I mentioned earlier. Not only did the coach ruin his career by having him play out of position, he also sat on the bench most of the time because some parents of his teammates paid the coach to give them more minutes inside the court.

  1. The team sponsors and benefactors

In this day and age in school-based basketball, team sponsors and benefactors play a big role, if not the biggest role, in making or breaking the program. The monetary contributions of patrons are valuable. They augment the needs of the players in terms of housing, gears, food, and allowances. For parents, check the integrity of the patron. Make sure they support student-athletes and not just athletes. Meaning, the patron must encourage athletes to do good in their studies and attend classes and training. Investigate if the sponsor has a history of having run-ins against school officials. Take a look if they value the student-athletes’ loyalty to the school rather than being loyal to them. Check if they have a record in terms of issues on game-fixing or sports gambling. It’s not bad to have program boosters around. Their vision must also be aligned with the school’s values not just for a winning program, but more importantly, giving these athletes a good and bright future. 

All of us parents of aspiring athletes would want our children to make it big. They will make it if we check for these green and red flags. There are still many to be considered but evaluating these three will initially help parents consider the different programs of schools, coaches, and sponsors that are presented to them. Choose carefully and wisely.