By Luke Allen | Things to watch for if you want to be NCAA D1 college eligible, academically
PICTURED: The opportunity to secure US Athletic Scholarship is a great one but you must be fully prepared to be eligible through High School.
We are in the midst of a very significant point in time for South Australian basketball, Australian basketball for that matter. More and more athletes are currently on active, Division 1 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball scholarships than ever (History made in South Australian Basketball - FOUR Athletes Commit to NCAA Div 1 Men's programs in the 2017 class | https://goo.gl/obmHPl), proving that the goals and dreams of South Australian athletes participating in major college basketball in the US is a reality. This is probably the same with other states but SA is batting well above our weight in this regard at the moment.
In decades gone by every minute was spent with a ball in your hands. If you dreamed of playing basketball at the highest level it meant practicing to be better than the next player, sun up till sun down.
There was no time made for anything else and the obsession of making sure you were putting in more hours than anyone else dominated your life with little regard for anything else- except to perhaps catch a game when the tank was empty. Looking back, we were largely naive, as a nation, to the requirements of what it took to play basketball beyond our own shores, particularly college basketball.
We all know about the great commitment and sacrifice athletes in SA and around Australia make to focus on reaching their goals; hours on the court, hundreds of shots a day, individual workouts, strength/agility training, endless travel, financial strain, team and state commitments. Likewise, also significant, are the commitments by their support group in their families and mentors.
If you coach, mentor or work with an elite athlete (or someone striving to be) you know all to well just how jam packed their timetable really is. But, unlike in years gone past, in the mix of this schedule of early morning workouts and late-night practice, it is evident that time is always set aside to meet the needs of their academic work.
Persuing a college basketball career is not for everyone as Paul Mesecke described in his blog ‘Lessons on College Pathways’ (https://goo.gl/mRoonJ ) but, if playing college basketball is a goal of yours or your child’s’ there are important factors you need to consider in planning a pathway and it requires more than just being an elite dedicated athlete.
College recruiters look for hard working, high character people who take pride in the classroom not just students with glowing basketball credentials. One of the first questions a college coach will ask us when they are seriously interested in the athlete are in relation to academics. Will they be a qualifier? Have they done their SATs? Can we please have their academic transcripts?
To be eligible for NCAA registration and recruitment, you must meet minimum academic standards in a strict subject criterion from years 9 throughout 12 in Australia. Admittedly for most young adult’s year 9 is far to early to truly recognize what direction they want their future to go. But, if you cover these bases along the way you will be putting yourself in good stead should you decide that playing ‘college ball’ is a goal.
To meet eligibility to compete in NCAA Division 1 conferences you will need to undertake 16 "core subjects" which run from years 9 throughout 12:
• 4 years of English
• 3 years of maths (algebra I or higher – algebra I is usually a Year 9 course in the US)
• 2 years of natural or physical science (including one year of lab science if offered by your school)
• 1 extra year of English, maths or natural or physical science
• 2 years of social science (this would include subjects such as geography, history, psychology, sociology, government, international relations, economics and legal studies)
• 4 years of extra core courses (from any category above, or foreign language, nondoctrinal religion or philosophy)
It is worth noting the following subjects are NOT recognised:
• Physical Education/Movement
• Business studies
• Graphics Performing/Visual Arts/Drama/Music
• Technology classes
• English as a Second Language (ESL)
So in short during years 9, 10, 11 & 12 your study plan should include 1 of each of the following subjects; English, Maths, Science & Social Sciences/Humanities.
To add to this, a minimum standard must also be met in your Grade Point Average (GPA) results of these aforementioned ‘core’ subjects. The minimum GPA is 2.3 which in Australian High School translates to somewhere between a B (3.0) and a C (2.0). Considering this, aiming for B’s in your subjects will comfortably see you over the line.
Here is an example of GPA calculations worksheet formulated by Janx for one of our male featured athletes (all grades and subjects have been changed to be de-identified). This should be a great help for families trying to get an idea if their athlete is looking like being eligible or not, and if there is a problem they can seek expert advice to get on track. Worksheet here: https://goo.gl/jq3Cdw. We suggest you down load a copy and use the sheet to help calculate GPA and also 16 core subject requirements.
PICTURED: NCAA Sliding scale source: http://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/2018DIEC_Requirements_Fact_Sheet_20180117.pdf
You will need to visit and become familiar with the NCAA Eligibility Centre website (https://web3.ncaa.org/ecwr3/ ) and during year 11 is recommended that you create a personal account/profile here; https://web3.ncaa.org/ecwr3/register/CERTIFICATION. This will cost you ~AU$175.
Once you have created an NCAA Eligibility account/profile you should periodically provide official academic transcripts from your school by uploading them to your profile. To be explicit here, I am NOT referring to your ‘reports’ but rather your ‘official academic transcripts’ which are available on request through your school’s administration service. Doing this will make the process more streamlined towards the end of the process.
The final step will be to take (and pass) the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) as early as practical during year 11 or 12 (https://www.collegeboard.org/ ). You can sit the SAT as many times as you like to get your best score. Keep in mind each SAT will cost around AU$130. SATs are broken down into 2 sections; reading and writing and Math. Following this this link will provide you with important information on SAT Dates and and testing centres in Australia: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/find-test-centers.
The minimum score you will need on your SAT is based on a sliding scale. If you look at the sliding scale table above it will show that the better your GPA, the lower your SAT score can be. The lower your GPA the higher your SAT score will need to be.
You also need to be mindful that some schools will have their own GPA and SAT requirements for you to be admitted into their institution. This can be significantly in excess of the NCAA minimum requirements in some cases too.
Pictured: from one a www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com featured athlete's SAT report. Shows breakdown of Total test score, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math.
If you are not completely eligible you have some options but you obviously do create problems for yourself going down these pathways.
One option if you don't have the required GPA or 16 core subjects is to undertake some extra studies post-matriculation. You can do these courses at a prep-school in the USA, online in Australia or attend an adult college such as Marden Senior College (an adult specific High School in South Australia). You are restricted to 1 yrs worth of a single subject though if you undertake this option. Obviously this path might mean that any schools recruiting you might move on to another prospect, offering them a scholarship spot instead.
If you fit into the academic redshirt range, as indicated in the sliding scale above this will still mean a school can offer you a scholarship but you will not be be allowed to play in the team in your first year and must meet certain academic requirements in that year in order to keep your scholarship. Lat Mayen (2017 TCU Freshman) was an academic redshirt for example this season. He will still be eligible to have 4 years at TCU after this year because he has redshirted, which is the same with any athlete in this situation.
If you become one of the fortunate few who has earned offers of a US scholarship you must now decide on path of academic study. There seems to be a train of thought in Australia that US college degrees are worthless in here, but this is far from the truth. In fact, some US degrees could be held in higher regard than comparable degrees earned in Australia. Featured athlete Isaac White's (2017 Stanford Freshman) Stanford Degree for example will hold him in VERY good stead. On the flip side, there are some degrees which indeed have little use or relevance here. For instance, degrees with a focus on law in the US will be somewhat irrelevant and may not attract credentials when returning to Australia. There are many examples of degrees that will be recognised in Australia including those with a focus on IT, Science, Engineering and the Arts to name a few. Obviously this does vary from institution to institution and there are other variables too. I suggest that when deciding on a study/career path through your US scholarship that you contact Admissions sector of several Australian universities to request a ‘pre-credit assessment of your chosen degree. Also contacting your preferred industry professional association/guild/registration body will be able to offer assistance in regards to becoming professionally accredited for that industry based on your US University Degree (EG: Australian Computer Society, Australian Medical Association, South Australian Teachers Registration Board, Australian Physiotherapy Association etc). Our most important advice is to make these decisions fully informed, with your eyes open, based on facts and not heresay and non-expert opinions.
We hope that this information helps everyone understand their requirements which must be understood as early in the process as possible to prevent problems later on.
What are some of the things High Performance Hoops network does?
At High Performance Hoops Network, we assist athletes with initiating this process and mentor them through it;
We do have a package of questions that player's being recruited should ask and consider themselves.
We are experts on Australian Junior basketball and have outstanding experience and knowledge on athletes that are coming through, or have been through, our pathways.
More and more coaches than ever before are visiting South Australia and more broadly Australia. We believe that relationships matter for US coaches looking to recruit Aussie talent. Coaches visiting are in a different city and need to maximise the use of their valuable time. We assist division 1 visiting coaches with any logistics as required and will organise school or home visits as required.
What we don’t do;
We are not "advisors" to kids or parents in order to select schools, outside of quantifiable research we can provide.
We do not charge fees to athletes, their families or colleges and coaches.