• Linda Hank

A parent's view on Division 1 college recruitment. Our daughter’s recruitment journey

Updated: Apr 13


Synopsis

Do you want to get real life, first hand insights onto the Division 1 college recruiting journey?

In this article we will capture the recruiting process and years leading up to that for Division 1 college basketball prospects!!

We provide you with firsthand insights from Coach Janx gained through the dozen or so athletes he and his team has worked closely with to support their journeys to division 1 college basketball. We then will move into the focus of the article, a parent’s perspective. The main body of the article has kindly been provided by Linda Hank whom, amazingly, has 2 children (Brent and Hannah) about to be playing Division 1 College basketball.

A great article for athletes and parents to learn about the journey of getting recruited, hints, tips, ideas and real life, firsthand examples. If you want unique, personal insights from those truly in the know then this is definitely an article you need to read.

Preface by Janx…

Every athlete is different with their recruiting process. How we support them, our relationship with them and their family is also always unique. This is a great part of being small, working with elite youth prospects, based on personal relationships. Invariably our work with featured athletes goes well beyond helping them with their pathways. Almost always they have played for us during their key development years so we genuinely care and are invested in their success on and off the floor. We mould our services (always free by the way) around the athlete's needs and we can do that because we know them and their families so well and get an understanding of what they need and how they want to use us.

A good example is Lat.......

Ring, ring hello Andrew this is Mike Dunlap from Loyola Marymount University calling about Lat Mayen

PICTURED: Mike Dunlap during his days in the NBA coaching the Charlotte Bobcats.

Ring, ring hello Andrew this is David Patrick from TCU calling about Lat Mayen

PICTURED: David Patrick on the right and some other blokes. DP is one of the most successful Aussies in American College basketball.

Ring, ring hello Andrew this is Mark Turgeon from the Maryland Terrapins calling about Lat Mayen

PICTURED: Mark Turgeon coaching Maryland in the NCAA Sweet 16

Ring, ring hello Andrew this is Buzz Williams from Virginia Tech Hookies calling about Lat Mayen

PCITURED: Buzz being Buzz.

Ring, ring hello Andrew this is Tommy Connor from the University of Utah Utes calling about Lat Mayen

PICTURED: Tommy Connor, all class, now as the Associate Head Coach with Utah Utes.

Ring, ring hello Andrew this is Kerry Rupp from Oregon State University calling about Lat Mayen

PICTURED: Kerry Rupp, with Oregon State, has good links to Aussie Hoops having previously Assisted Brian Goorjian with the Aussie Boomers.

These were just some of the calls, and people I got to know, in regards to Lat Mayen during his recruiting process. Some big names, from big time college programs were on the other end of my phone! Today I am lucky to have most them as friends, advisors and contacts. For Lat we were allowed to be involved thanks to him, his brother (Aciek Mayen) and coaches in the programs (Centre of Excellence at the AIS) he had gone on to participate in. We were requested to provide a "wall" around him somewhat, initially vetting contacts, because we all knew how heavy his recruitment would be. In his case it was vital that he was able to focus on school and the other workload that goes with being a Centre of Excellence (CoE) athlete.

In the case of Lat our involvement was appropriate. He had played at Sturt (a club here in Adelaide), with me as his coach, Paul Mesecke (who assists us with our platform too) as Director of Coaching at the club, probably during his most significant development phase in the sport. Coming from U16 Division 5 at another club 18 months earlier, still incredibly raw the start of that year with us. His team mates in this team drove excellence from each other, a team that would later include 5 Division 1 College commits. We are quite certain this is more than any local club level team in history in the country. The athletes in this team developed each other and I was willing to do whatever I could to ensure their efforts into each other were rewarded.

How did Lat get into the CoE trial is an interesting story that we can tell now it is a few years gone by.....

With his Sturt team mate, due to go to CoE trial camp, unfortunately going down with an injury Mesecke and I kicked into gear to beg and aggressively push decision makers to offer that spot to Lat. We always knew what Lat could do having seen him perform at our sessions week in week out. We had also just seen Lat train at his school practice in front of some visiting friends from a Division 1 NCAA school in the West Coast Conference and we knew the CoE coaches should see what we had been seeing with Lat. This kid had a chance to be really good. We enlisted our friends from the WCC to support our evaluation, they had told us “this kid could be special, we won’t recruit him because we’d be wasting our time” and when coaches at that level say that we know all too well what that means.

We also had been garnering offers for him, with the help of someone very much in the inner circle of the Ben Simmon’s camp, to get him to a prep school. Top prep schools like Montverde (Ben’s school in Florida) and Blair Academy (New Jersey) amongst the suitors, my personal preference was for him to join the CoE. It makes much more sense to do that when you have such an opportunity, really is a no-brainer of a choice between the CoE/NBA Academy these days in my opinion. So we emailed, rang, begged for Lat be included in the trial informing them of the evaluations of the WCC coaches that had seen him too and also the likelihood if he did not have a pathway at CoE he would be going to Montverde (the top prep school in America - where Ben Simmons had attended about 18 months earlier), potentially lost to the Australian pathway forever (as we put it to them). 2 days later after our Sunday morning calls and emails to the powers that be (here in SA and abroad) we were told Lat was allowed to trial with the CoE and he did not let us down once he got there.

It was appropriate we helped Lat in this way with his college recruitment. Not only for the fact he had developed so much whilst being in our program, we knew him and his family well and had built a lots of trust over that time. This had happened because I had gotten to know him in the 1hr car rides to and from home each Sunday, often stopping by Subway for a meal to talk about hoops and life, our team trips to Melbourne, as well as we had heavily been working with him and his brother generating a range of mid major division 1 college leads for him at the time. Mesecke, Lat, Aciek and I had had numerous goal setting, “college recruiting update” sessions throughout the 12 months prior so Aciek and Lat and had built up a lot of trust on how hard we would work for him and his interest was our sole priority.

VIDEO: Lat would eventually commit to the booming TCU, now one of the top 25 college programs in American basketball.

It was a fun process and I care so much about Lat as an athlete but more so as a person to this day, I could not be more proud of the man he is today and also his resilience and desire demonstrated during his recent injury challenges. Head Coach of Jamie Dixon recently letting us know on social media that “Lat is 100%” after a 12 point game by Lat vs household name, West Virginia.

PICTURED: Lat now plays for TCU in the Big 12. In this game he dropped 12 pts against West Virginia.

My main point is, other than the above being an interesting story, is the role we play is always going to be different. Mentor, friend, family friend, brother, "manager", "agent", workout coach, team coach and everything in between. We are different at www.highperformancehoopnsetwork.com to any other College agent or recruiting service in Australia, infact recruiting service is not even the right word for what we do. We are able to identify talent, develop and open doors for that talent because of our track record in doing so, work ethic, integrity in doing so. We aim to be world class at that.

Anyway, this is “Hannah’s recruiting story”. Hannah may infact be our most heavily recruited featured athlete yet. Infact she joins other players in Morgan Yaeger (U of Oregon), Taylor Ortlepp (Boston College) and Darcy Rees (U of Washington) as one of four female high major division 1 players out of South Australia.

It was impressive with the speed and ferocity of her recruitment and the fact her abilities were so highly regarded from college coaches many just jumped in straight from the tape we sent out. With that in mind I’ve asked her mother Linda to write a blog on this process. Recruiting for Aussie families is often daunting and strange compared to what they are used to. Australian basketball is under resourced compared to the USA and in most environments high performance athletes are left to their own devices to get guidance, feedback and information. Suddenly, you have adults from the other side of the world you don’t know contacting your kids to say we want you in our program, you suddenly have a myriad of people you’ve never met or barely know wanting to be “advisors”, guide, to latch on, often profiteer in many creative ways. Massive basketball programs flying over to see your child and meet you, then willing to invest $10,000 plus in having you visit their program. I feel there are many things of interest, lessons to be learned for all parents in this story, to get prepared for, it happens so quickly often. A great performance at an event, making a national squad list etc and overnight things can change. Amazingly, Linda has been involved in this process twice. With her son Brent currently at U at Albany, a Division 1 program in the America East Conference (here is Brent’s story: https://www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com/single-post/2017/04/12/Brent-Hank-From-Pt-Lincoln-to-New-York), too.

PICTURED: Brent Hank attends University at Albany one of the most dominant programs of the America East Conference over the past decade.

Over to Linda……

It's important for me to start by saying that this blog is just one opinion, in this case mine. Right or wrong hopefully some of you considering college as a pathway for your kids might get something out of this that helps you along the way. Now where to begin.

Was college always the goal? Not when we left Port Lincoln to move to Adelaide, we didn’t even really know or understand about USA college as a pathway. It had been spoken about to us by coaches etc but Brent was going into year 8 and Hannah year 6 so it seemed a long way off. All we knew was that they both had the physical attributes to play basketball and both had a passion for the game.

PICTURED: Great people. Linda and Chris Hank at their Oyster farm, Pure Coffin Bay Oysters. Went to amazing links to support their kids in basketball and education and fantastic to them achieve success.

Did our kids say to me in year 6 and year 8 that they wanted to go to college in the USA? No, of course they didn’t. I believe Chris and I have treated our kid’s basketball journey as a very long corridor with doors along each side. We started off with all doors open and endless possibilities but as the journey progressed and the years went by some doors closed along the way and others remained open to explore further. Through those open doors we continued to support them by encouraging them to embrace the opportunities awarded to them. Some of these included state representative teams, NITP squads, Australian squads, school basketball, elite trainings with the Adelaide 36ers or Adelaide Lightning. One of these doors was USA college basketball. Don’t be complacent. You can’t sit around and expect others to tell you what you need to know about college recruitment. There are lots of opportunities available for gaining an understanding of the requirements of attending college in the USA, online information, coaches, possibly teachers at your school, paid professionals, talks given at Australian Championships, talks given at basketball camps, just to name a few.

VIDEO: Hannah's recruiting video after U18 National Championships in April 2018.

Misconception is that its easy. I personally don’t believe that to be the case, it took effort and lots of it. As we always say to our kids, “you only get out of life what you are prepared to put into it” so as a family we were prepared to make the effort to make sure the kids were eligible for USA college in case they decided that’s what they wanted. It was a joint effort. The kids did their part by working hard at school and at their basketball. They understood that they were marketing themselves along the way to potential college coaches of the future. College coaches would want to know how they got along with their teachers, peers, coaches and team mates. Were they hard working. Were they coachable. How they conducted themselves in the public forum, e.g. social media etc. Our part was to support them in this pursuit which included educating ourselves about the USA college pathway.

It's the last 4 years of school that you need to get right. Year 9 and Year 10 were pretty simple. Trinity college students in these two years automatically cover 9 of the 16 required core subjects. During these two years we only concentrated on the kids trying their best at school and trying their best at basketball. Year 11 and 12 need to be planned together to make sure you cover the final 7 core subjects required as part of your eligibility. You need to get this checked by someone who fully understands the requirements, so you get this part right. These final two years are going to be tough. If your kids are good enough players to go to USA college then they are going to be very busy kids. In Australia we play basketball all year round. If you are representing your state in basketball then that is a 6 month commitment every year, plus Australian squad tryouts or Australian development camp, East Coast Challenge, NITP, school basketball, Premier League, Premier League reserves, U18’s Adelaide District competition and the list goes on. Add in gym workouts, fitness, shooting sessions, a school tutor, travel to and from all of these commitments and homework life gets pretty crazy so they are going to need their parents help because they are very time poor. On top of all of this they need to pass school well to keep the hope of Division 1 basketball a possibility.

I did get early advice about other important information such as start your SAT tests in year 11, sign up with the NCAA eligibility centre and keep that team information up to date. Get your year 9-11 school transcripts sent early and then send a final one after year 12. All of this advice helped in our kids recruitment. USA college basketball is big business and recruitment moves very fast. Coaches are looking at lots of kids so if you have all of this squared away early it means that coaches can be serious about you sooner, have confidence that you will meet their college eligibility requirements, can bring you for a visit sooner and make offers earlier. No college recruitment timelines will be the same as it's all about what coach sees you, hears about you and when they hear/see you, how quickly they want to react to this.

Editor's note. To read more ensuring academic eligibility for college you can checkout Luke Allen's (Luke manages the girls side of HPHN and was also one of Hannah's junior coaches) article. Luke’s article: Things to watch for if you want to be NCAA D1 college eligible, academically

Most importantly is you need to surround yourselves with trusted coaches and basketball professionals who can help you. You need to have coaches working with your kids that are planning for the big picture and not just the team they are playing in that season. Development as a player for the future is critical so that you aren’t pigeon holed as a player and can reach your full potential. You will also need help with film of games and highlights of their game, getting film and then making it available to coaches. USA coaches want to talk with basketball professionals involved with your kids to gain an understanding of basketball in your area, where your child fits in the picture and an understanding of their thoughts about your child. If you don’t have a video camera get one as you will need to be that parent videoing lots of games. Start early as you need tape ready to go in year 10 as although college recruiting begins in year 11 they start looking before then. Thankfully more and more of the elite games are now live streamed which you can share to coaches interested in your child. As parents we need basketball mentors to talk with about recruitment along the way, to bounce thoughts around about the pros and cons of each college and coach etc. You need others perspective so you look at the recruitment from many angles and not one.

When coaches start making contact be proactive. College recruiting can move really fast. Don’t treat it like a competition and compare your kids to other kids. You are trying to find the best fit for your child with a coach that really wants them. It can get really crazy at times and its tiring for your children juggling school and basketball and then add in talking, messaging and emailing coaches. Once emails start to come in you will understand the level of college basketball you can expect to be recruited at for your child. I am a firm believer in not wasting coaches or my time so if it didn’t feel right I would tell them straight away that it wasn’t a good fit so they could move on to other players. A personal dislike was coaches that target only recruiting direct to your child from the start. I believe it's different for parents in Australia as the whole family needs to be recruited as we are trusting a coach, college and basketball program to look after our child who will be a very long way from home. We needed there to be a trust relationship from a parents point of view too. As parents we were looking for the genuine people reaching out to us and our kids.

There is truly some wonderful people in the USA college basketball system so hopefully you get to know a few too. Player promotion and USA college trips. If college is a goal then your kids need marketing. A gateway for this to happen is working with basketball professionals that can forward a factsheet and highlights of your child out to multiple college coaches to put them on their radar. We did this with both Brent and Hannah early. As for USA trips it's interesting talking to American college coaches, as they can’t believe how many kids come over on basketball trips from Australia. We did send Brent on a trip to the USA in year 12 to play at tournaments with college coaches in attendance, he already had a lot of Div 1 interest and some offers and talks of visits prior to the trip. We didn’t send Hannah on a trip but to a USA run camp in Melbourne with USA college coaches in attendance in year 11 early in her recruitment. This cost a lot less and as it was early in her recruitment timeline it was very beneficial with immediate offers and requests for visits. Be realistic about what is your child's college level. The head coach calling you is a very good sign that they want your child at their college in their program. You are one of the top picks of their list. If its a good school with a quality reputation then sit up and take notice.

As for a timeline of decision making, you can plan one but I wouldn’t expect you will stick to it. I believe you just need to stay proactive in communicating with the coaches and colleges that you feel like could be a possibility for your child. I would recommend honesty as the best policy. How can you have a genuine trust relationship with coaches if you aren’t proactively doing that yourself. If you get an offer with a visit attached thats the time to reach out to any other colleges that are showing strong interest and tell them. That allows them the opportunity to put their cards on the table too. Each college recruitment will be different with each student athlete so travel your own journey, be open, ask questions. After that all you can do is act accordingly as the situations unfolds.

Don’t be afraid to ask what you think are the hard questions, trust me the coaches have heard them all before. Make sure you have a list of whats important in selecting a college, this may change as you go along but when it comes to visits and you are comparing good quality colleges to each other this list will become very important. Be sure you will be happy at the college regardless of the coaches and team as these can change during your time there. Reach out to past players and families of current and old players and ask lots of questions. When will you know it's the right college. There is no point stressing and worrying about this as you can’t force it, the decision will come when the time is right.

College visits is the fun stuff, so enjoy it. But you need to come for the right reasons, that you are seriously considering them as an option and not waste colleges time or money. When you arrive, be ready, it's going to be busy. It only seems fair that you put in as much effort into the visit as they do and trust me they put in a lot of effort to show you why they want your kid to come to their college and to make sure you enjoy your time with them. We got off the plane with the attitude that we would survive on adrenaline and coffee, not drag ourselves around tired but instead hit the ground running to make the most of the experience. Thats the least we could do for all their efforts in paying for us all to come and see their college. Your child needs to take the lead here and be prepared with their questions and list of what they want to compare from college to college. Each night before bed we would have a debrief as a family and put notes down on paper, think about what questions had not been covered yet, and on leaving each college write a pros and cons list. It was suggested to us to take a lot of photos and we are so grateful we did as after three colleges in a row by the time we got home it was great to go back and be reminded of what exactly we saw and did at each one.

PICTURED BELOW: The following pics are of Hannah and her family during their visit to Clemson in early 2018.

What can college offer? A full scholarship. Australians as a nation don’t understand how wonderful an opportunity that is. But when you go and visit a USA college you gain an understanding of how amazing it will be. A high quality education, food and board, all books etc, health cover and insurance all as part of the scholarship. But as a parent who has spent a lot of time co ordinating playing, training and preparing your kids for basketball all of a sudden that stops. It's all taken care of for you at an elite level. Your child will have a commitment from a coach and basketball program to train and develop your child for a 4 year period with everything they need at their fingertips. Courts, training, great teams mates, athletic development, multiple coaches, all their training gear etc. Now all of these are fantastic but then there is more. They are going to develop all of your child. Round them out as a person. The team will volunteer in the community, personal development courses, leadership, tutors as required, academic advisors and the list goes on. Whats not to like about it. I left the visits wishing I was the one being recruited for college and excited about the opportunities that my kids had before them.

PICTURED: After a rocky journey through no fault of her own (due to a coaching change) Hannah decommitted from Boston College in the ACC and committed to Clemson July 2018.

What happens if things don’t work out as expected. It happens and did to us along the way. Hannah did 3 visits of her 5 allowed and picked a college that she loved. She verbally committed to the college and a couple of months later the head coach advised her that he would no longer be continuing with that college and basketball program. As it was a verbal commitment and a signing period had not occurred we were not sure what would happen next. After speaking with the athletic department at the college we understood that the scholarship did not stand with thec ollege anymore and it would be up to the new head coach. It was very disappointing for Hannah but completely outside of her control. The decision was made to reopen up her recruitment and another trip to the USA for her final 2 college visits. Two lessons here, nothing is certain until you sign your NLI and you think 5 college visits is heaps but as it turns out its not, so use them wisely!

PICTURED: The venue Hannah will be playing out of for Clemson from 2019/20 season the 10,000+ seat Littlejohn Coliseum

Why choose college as a pathway? I have seen a movement at home in Australia for elite players to stay as development players for our elite NBL and WNBL teams. The same as with the Basketball Centre of Excellence (AIS) the NBL and WNBL can’t develop all the masses of players striving for a professional career in basketball. USA college basketball certainly can help Australian student athletes keep this door open. If you can prove yourself on the college basketball stage over your time there that you are good enough, get developed well and help the team succeed then your possibility of a paid professional career door is still open. If you don’t then you have a higher education than when you started and a wonderful life experience to move on into the rest of your life with where ever that may be. I never meant this to be so long. Hopefully something here helps in your journey. Good luck!


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