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By Paul Mesecke | Lessons on College Pathways – With a focus on great females that have come through

Preface by Janx

Paul Mesecke has agreed to be the first "partner". Those that closely know the evolution of this would not be surprised of Paul's involvement in this capacity, he has been involved throughout the whole process as the idea evolved continuously into the platform it has become today.

I'm honored and humbled to have Paul involved, Paul may well be one of the very top junior coaches in the country in terms of depth of experience, success and background. He has provided great support for many coaches and players throughout Australia, including some of the players featured on this site.

Paul has just completed a role during a period of unprecedented success in South Australia where he was Operations Manager at Sturt from 2000 to 2016, with the exception of 2003, when he was based at the Australian Institute of Sport as a coach, during his time at Sturt the club was the number 1 ranked club in the state every single year, except 2012. He has also coached SA Metro sides, winning medals at National Championships, a rare feat indeed given our state’s small population base.

Paul will be taking care of the Elite Women's side of the site for girls playing in the state of South Australia. He has a lot of experience in working with elite players that have gone onto play college basketball and maintaining positive, successful, working relationships with those players once they are in the college system and supporting and guiding them in their journey to get there.

As an introduction to this new stream for I have asked him to blog on the elite girls that have come through South Australian Hoops in recent years and how they got there. The athletes mention were more than happy to have their stories and lessons learned to help other athletes (the same ideas generally apply to male and female athletes).

I am looking forward to Paul's contribution and am currently open to hear from "partners" interstate in Elite Male, Elite Female or Emerging Talent categories.

Paul is currently based in Singapore and so will have the challenge of working remotely from the featured athletes but I feel with Paul's work ethic, knowledge, networks, experience and skillsets it will compensate for the mitigating factor of distance. After U18 Nationals next April the site will undergo some minor changes to include the female featured athletes and in the meantime some of the female athletes below (who have kindly agreed to be referred to in this article) will be developing some blogs on their experience.

Over to Paul......

Over the past 15 years, due to my role in basketball, I have been involved in athletes and their recruitment into different levels of US college basketball. For different athlete’s I have taken different levels of involvement depending on their needs.

What I have learnt here is that there is no one ‘right’ process. As different players have different opportunities for exposure the athlete has to promote themselves and their abilities to the schools which are willing to recruit them.

Angela Marino was the first player who I was coaching that was recruited to college. She had just had a setback after missing out on selection to the AIS and was looking at her options. A coach visited Australia for his first visit and made a point of coming to Adelaide to meet Angela and recruit her too his school. We all met for lunch and listened to his recruitment pitch. It was clear that he was very interested in her attending his school. We had regular contact for the next 9 months while he was trying to organise a commitment. Angela was lucky enough to have option to play WNBL the next season.More importantly, she was also focused on her education and chose to study Law at Adelaide University. While this experience ultimately ended with her choosing to stay in Australia it was an invaluable experience in the process. And Angela went on to be a duel Olympian and play nearly 200 WNBL games.

Lesson Learnt 1/ College isn’t for everyone. Females (more often than men) can begin playing WNBL straight out of junior basketball. If you have a professional basketball career option post junior basketball, you can have a great career without college.

Emma Langford and Jess McPhail were two players from the same recruiting class but both had different recruitment experiences. Emma was a member of the AIS and National Junior Teams while Jess was a 4 year SA Metro State player who played senior PL basketball while still a junior. Both Emma and Jess were interested in attending college so we began by cold calling schools by email to gauge their interest in Australian athletes. This was a point in time when Australian players attending college was quite new and less likely that what it is today. We began by targeting different schools for each as we viewed Emma as having the ability to play at higher ranked schools. We began by choosing conferences we thought would be interested in them and then targeted schools who already had Australians on their teams. We continued emailing more and more schools until a number of schools showed interest. As schools become more interested we sent video (this was back when VHS was usual and we were only beginning to use DVD’s near the end of the recruitment process). Both players and their families handled the interested schools and ultimately signed with D1NCAA schools, University of Wyoming for Emma, and Northwestern State University for Jess. Both had strong college careers where they had opportunity to start and enjoyed their college experience.

Emma Langford at University of Wyoming

Lesson Learnt #2/ The athlete marketing process process is possible as schools are looking for recruits that can help their teams and they will respond to first contacts with requests for video footage to assess talent.

Lesson Learnt #3/ There are schools for players of different levels and it’s important to work out what players will be recruited at what level to focus on these schools.

A couple years later Bree Farley was a deciding about future potential pathways. Before being selected on attending the AIS, she had decided that the WNBL was her preferred pathway post AIS. However, she agreed to leave the college door open and began her recruitment process. After 18 months at the AIS her recruitment process had changed her opinion on what pathway she was considering. She had a few initial college options which fell through as they sign local US athlete’s. After the initial schools pulled out one of her former AIS team mates spoke to her college coach and subsequent to that Bree was offered a scholarship to attend Fresno State University. Ultimately she decided to accept her position at Fresno and had and rewarding college experience where she was named team captain her senior year where her team played in the NCAA tournament.

Lesson Learnt #4/ Schools often change their minds, things change at a rapid pace. Always keep the door open, both the option to attend college, but also to different schools so that you don’t miss out if schools change their recruitment targets.

Lesson Learnt #5/ There are different people (former team mates, scouts, your current/former coaches, visiting college coaches etc.) who can help you get recruited to schools as well as different pathways.

Nicole Seekamp was a player that from a young age had decided she wanted to attend US college as a part of her pathway. She began early in organising her process by using a firm to assist her in the recruitment process. However, this was at odds with her other goals of representing Australia and attending the AIS as she may not have been able to attend the World Championships. After looking at her option she decided that she had far greater opportunities through the AIS so she put her recruitment on hold and aimed for the AIS where she was able to achieve a scholarship.

During her time at the AIS, many schools came to recruit her and she secured a scholarship to the University of South Dakota. However, after her graduation she continued playing WNBL for the Adelaide lightning and the NCAA changed their rules and decided that players were not allowed to play organised basketball after 1 year following their graduation from high school. As such she was deemed ineligible and had to red shirt her first season, which means she wasn’t allowed to play for the season. After much discussion with her school and the NCAA she was deemed to be allowed to play her 4th season where she become the schools second leading scorer and led her team to the NCAA tournament.

Nicoke Seekamp had a dominant career with University of South Dakota

Lesson Learnt #6/ Your goals need to be prioritised so that you don’t miss out on opportunities during the process. Create a list, rank your goals and what you want in your pathway. Work with those in basketball that are knowledgeable and experienced on this process.

Lesson Learnt #7/ The NCAA often changes the rules, and it’s important to make sure you are compliant. Again do your own research and seek the correct advice.

These are just some of the athlete’s I have worked with over the past 15 years, but they all provided valuable lessons in the process and most importantly that each athlete is different and that the process for each athlete is different. But that ultimately, if you work diligently you can achieve an opportunity for most players.

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