Today's online tools to use in the recruiting process; information from our experience so far.
Way back in my own U18s days. A few guys were recruited but this was all word of mouth, with very few of the tools and services available today. This was a very successful team packed with talent, would recruiting have been different today for this team? 1 of my team mates here played High Major D1 ball at Kansas State University but this was due to moving to the States to play High School Basketball.
Recruiting has changed substantially since back in my playing days. The rare athlete that got recruited out of Adelaide, South Australia was normally due to word of mouth, moving over to the US for High School or from an American tour.
Today, Junior worlds help, the reputation of Aussie talent (means coaches are much more proactive in looking in Australia), AAU tournaments that Aussies can play in exposing them to so many coaches, and of course online tools provide so much exposure, knowledge and information.
I decided to share some experience and knowledge from highperformancehoopsnetwork.com that have been tested and tried over the past 2 yrs and how you can use these tools.
First and foremost, we have begun to try and think of building brand. A friend volunteered to design a logo before the website was released and that has become a part of our brand, along with the animation at the start of our highlight clips. The objective is NEVER to generate revenue but to create awareness among college coaches for the athletes we work with in the State of South Australia and broader, if required.
Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/user/22janx
Highlights on our youtube are regularly receiving 1000+ views, heavily concentrated in the United States.
Youtube is the best way to get footage out there. You can plug the video into various platforms and media from that.
Ultimately interested coaches at D1 levels will want to see fullgames so do not be fooled, the highlights package alone will not get you recruited.
I've seen some horrid youtube clips that do more harm than good, even from fantastic players. In my opinion show the highest level of competition you have played at. Don't show HS basketball if you have played national championships for example. In my experience College Coaches are generally well tuned in to the various levels in Australia and regardless they are good at what they do. If you show yourself dominating a low level basketball game they will very easily figure out the level.
College coaches want to see athleticsm, length, versatility (at both ends of the floor), ability to play on both side of your body with the ball, work ethic, good decision making and skillset in highlights. They don't always spend much time watching before deciding if they want more. Don't show free throws, they can tell if you can shoot or not in game situations and free throws don't show too much. I try to show some basic highlights upfront, then show collections of highlights game by game. Doing it it game by game means that coaches can see that you have not grabbed the best footage from 100s of games and slapped them together to look good. I also like to group the highlights by various categories that I want to show for the player, then mix those highlights up per each game. IE if I have 3 categories then try to pull 1 clip from each category together, then keep going, game by game. I like to include background music (make sure no swearing or offensive words) but I am not sure of its value, I know when I have recruited US talent as a coach I just tended to like the highlights packages with some background music for some strange reason.
Our videos on our Youtube page are getting 100s of hits per day at the moment. Most of the hits are becoming heavily focused in the United States. The videos are also being reposted in forums etc. by observers in the USA and often major spikes happen when the videos are reposted.
Field Level - www.fieldlevel.com
Early in the process this was a huge help. It provides the platform (a little like Facebook) for coaches to create player profiles and includes a lot of information on players. The profile is only live once the player approves but coaches can post comments on their players for college coaches without the players seeing what was posted so this does add some credibility to the process for college coaches. Players can include lots of information such as their GPA, teams, contact information, physical and testing attributes etc. It is very, very easy to contact coaches emasse via this means. This was great in the early days but I suspect with the simplicity of mass contacts going out to that many college coaches, that the coaches began to mark the emails as spam. I suspect that Jucos and NAIA schools are the ideal targets for this medium as D1 coaches get inundated with emails on international players. It is still worthwhile setting up a profile here because coaches can still do searches, and the tool itself is excellent, it is just that direct mailouts of your info via Fieldlevel no longer will be very effective in my opinion.
A very useful tool that has proven itself in past experience.
Kelvin Taylor's - Showtime Basketball - Database -http://www.showtimebasketball.com.au/getting-to-college
Kelvin Taylor runs a touring company which includes tours inbound into Australia for college teams. Each year he brings out some great schools on their tours and this is providing some great exposure for Aussie Hoops. In order for him to develop relationships with colleges he also keeps a player database on Aussie talent for college coaches to look up players. He promotes his database, players and events on social media which has an extensive following of college coaches.
Featured Athletes on www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com and I have developed some great networks and relationships initiated through Kelvin. He is a great guy, very helpful, that understands to run a business in hoops you have to sacrifice revenue opportunities in some areas, as is the case with his free database, to make it in other areas (his tours). From my personal experience I recommend D1/2 prospects get on his database.
Verbal commits - www.verbalcommits.com
Boise State University profile on Verbal Commits showing signings, news, depth charts, rankings and other teams in the Mountain West.
Verbal commits is almost like THE go to on college programs and a great help with prospects. It is fairly much not for profit (they may make revenue from advertising by the looks( but includes great information on colleges, conferences and prospects. It is so useful. We use it to learn about schools, the conference they are in because all schools and conferences are given a strength score. It also shows, for each school, the depth charts of players on scholarship, redshirted, offers, interest, available scholarships for each position, year on year. This is not always 100% accurate but it is a great guide to use. You can also notify the managers and submit information on players who has shown interest in them, who has offered them and post their highlights.
It also has good feeds from Twitter and other news sites and normally is the first place you can find a verbal commit, other than than the committing player's Twitter account.
This can create interest but also streamline the recruiting process somewhat as schools do watch this site and if they notice a kid is being recruiting a by High Majors it will give them a feel for their chances of getting the player.
This is similar to Verbal Commits but with a better navigation interface in my opinion but the key thing I use this for is to see visits. It shows the scheduled visits (not always accurate) of players and also rates each player's likelihood of signing to a particular school. Again these measures are people's opinions but they do tend to be pretty accurate.
We use this to understand the inner workings of a programs recruitment and how the school's recruiting will playout, what they are really looking for and where they are at the process with athletes in certain positions.
Social Media - EG: https://twitter.com/janx_22
There is lots of information on social media management for athletes.
I can give you a quick story. Last yr a player we know well had some slightly inappropriate pictures on social media. Nothing too bad but may have raised eyebrows. We discussed the recruiting period with this young kid and that schools will look around. He removed the pictures and 18 mths he is being recruited by a number of High Major D1 and many Mid Major programs. Social media is also useful to find out about schools and coaches. Twitter is a great one because it is all about sharing brief updates and news and this is often ideal to find out about what is going on with programs.
We have made a range of initial new connections via Twitter, Facebook and other platforms and run a Facebook page which has over 1000 members currently and rapidly growing.
PhenomReport - www.phenomreport.com
The Phenom report is a large provider of exposure camps and combines across the USA. Highperformancehoopsnetwork.com provides them with their international reports out of Australia on South Australian athletes. They are well connected through social media and a repost will often lead to influx of coaches visiting youtube footage on our athletes.
AUSA Hoops provide rankings, exposure, development and AAU tours for Aussie kids. They are very well connected, knowledgeable and US Coaches do follow their news and rankings. Their rankings are definately not the be all and end all, and the US coaches do recognise that the rankings are the opinions of a few people delivering services to the kids. But, the coaches definitely do look at the rankings to provide them with some awareness of athletes in Australia. When listing on their rankings page AUSA Hoops will include highlights and details.
AUSA Hoops have provided us with a range of High Major, Mid Major networks and often have initiated very promising recruiting for the featured athletes.
We hope this article has provided some great information for everyone on what works for us. We have not highlighted all the tools and services out there, or even all the ones we have utilised. It is a great time in basketball in Australia where athletes with big dreams, willing to work hard now have a more clearly defined path, more transparency and opportunity to playing in the United States than it has been in the past.