NCAA Basketball Scholarships?
One recurring question that I receive at thebettergame.com is how do players inside and outside of the U.S. earn NCAA basketball scholarships?
Basketball, one of the most popular games of this era, is played by people of all ages. But at a certain point, players can decide if they want to pursue basketball further or just play for fun. If you are a player who decides to pursue basketball further, then the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) may be an important stop on your basketball journey.
NCAA basketball players are the best amateurs in the world. Of those players who secure a spot on an NCAA team, some players will then be invited to play professionally in Europe, but only a handful will make it to the NBA. I’m not here to talk about the odds and how possible it is.
I will just ask you the same question I asked myself: Is it impossible?
Nothing is impossible.
When I was in my late teens, I was told that it wasn’t possible for me to attain any NCAA basketball scholarship. After a near-death experience with pneumonia, and as a resident of the U.K, I still received a few NCAA basketball scholarships.
Don’t let anybody tell you can’t do it, especially people who don’t have the drive and ambition to make to the NCAA level themselves.
There are 3 NCAA college levels, NCAA Division I, II, III. In most cases, if you are not a Division I prospect by your sophomore/junior year in high school, your chances of playing Division I are low. (Later I will show you how you can defeat those odds.) Before we get deeper into how to get a basketball scholarship, let’s go over the structure of the NCAA and the eligibility requirements
How To Apply?
Currently, NCAA Division I and Division II schools offer more than $2.7 billion annually in sports scholarships and these scholarships benefit more than 150,000 student-athletes. The students looking for NCAA basketball scholarships must participate in basketball in their high schools, AAU and/or national league U18 teams to get seen. Students who excel in the game are then recruited by colleges. A student will then start college visits and register in the NCAA eligibility clearinghouse to be eligible.
The three divisions of the NCAA have different eligibility criteria. Students who are interested in NCAA basketball scholarships must know the different criteria for each division.
NCAA basketball scholarships have eligibility requirements to help one be prepared for success in the college classrooms; these are based on the high school academic records.
To play at a Division I school, the student-athlete must:
- Graduate from a high school.
- If registering before 1st August 2016, students must complete at least 16 core courses mentioned by the NCAA eligibility center. Your SAT score combined with your GPA will determine if you are eligible. Click here for more information.
- If applying after 1st August 2016, the player must achieve a minimum GPA of 2.3 and complete 10 core courses including Math, English and Natural/Physical Science. A player will not be able to repeat or replace any of these 10 courses to improve his/her GPA.
At Division II schools, must complete the steps above. If applying before 1st August 2018, players must complete 16 core courses with a minimum GPA of 2.0 and an SAT combined score of 820 (New 1600 scale) or ACT score of 68.
There are no Division III NCAA basketball scholarships, however; 75% of the student-athletes in Division III programs receive some financial support depending on academic records.
Other Important Information
In the NCAA eligibility center, GPA is calculated on a 4.00 scale. Here numerical scores are converted into the letter grades A, B, C and D and every grade has its own weighted value.
If your high school notifies the NCAA eligibility center, then grades for advanced placement or honors classes will be weighted accordingly.
There is no plus or minus grade. If you just pass a course then the NCAA assigns the lowest grade for that course as D. If you get an A then you will be given 4 points in that course. Similarly, for the grade B, C, and D you will be given 3, 2 and 1 point respectively.
For student-athletes applying from outside the U.S, your grades will be converted to a GPA to determine your status of eligibility.
Increasing Your Chance Of Getting NCAA Basketball Scholarships
Find A Team
Register with a team that will give you exposure; this can be your high school team, U18’s team, a European pro team (where you are NOT being paid) or a summer team. If you really want exposure, play on every team mentioned above.
Although I started organized basketball at 16, which is very late, the team I played for during my time was one of the best youth teams in London and the whole U.K.
My team helped me attain exposure on a world stage, by not only playing in youth tournaments against players that are now big names in the NBA and Europe but by also playing NCAA Division I schools when they toured Europe.
Better Your Game
Practice and work on your game. Add more versatility to your offensive game and become a threat from any point on the court. Click here
Contact NCAA Affiliate Schools
If you are always waiting for someone to do something for you, then you will not get very far. Do it yourself!
Visit the websites of Division I schools and email all of the Head/Assistant Coaches.
Email them something like this:
Subject: NCAA Basketball Scholarships
My name is XYZ. I am an 18-year-old basketball player from London. I am interested in applying for NCAA basketball scholarships and playing for your program. I have my high school grades and I’m waiting on my SAT scores. What do I have to do to play for the University of ZXY?
Please get back to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss my future as a Tiger.
Almost all coaches responded with “Let us see some game tape and we can talk further.”
Let’s summarize this section before we move on:
- Research email addresses of the coaches at NCAA Division I and II schools or save time and go to a freelancer site Fiverr or Upwork and pay someone to collect all of the emails for you.
- Email all schools where you might be a fit.
- Send videotapes – your highlight reel- to coaches
If you want good exposure attending a few summer camps is a must. I received NCAA interest letters because I attended basketball camps in the U.S. Go online and contact the organizers of the camps and ask if you can attend.
If you want it bad enough you will make it happen. I made a deal with my parents that if I came up with half of the total cost (transatlantic flight + camps) they would pay half. I worked 2 part-time jobs at the time, so I knew I would come up with the money. Get a job if it is necessary.
Watch NCAA Basketball
If you are looking for NCAA basketball scholarships, you should watch as many college games as possible. If you are in a country where they do not televise NCAA basketball games, go to The Better Game’s youtube channel TheBetterGame24 and watch full NCAA basketball games. (Games courtesy of ESPN)
The tools you need to increase your chances of receiving NCAA basketball scholarships:
- Join multiple teams to ensure you are playing and being exposed all year round.
- Research the schools in which you are interested and make a list of all the coaches’ emails or find a freelancer who can do so. Better your game! ( Practice )
- Attend summer camps.
- Prepare your own highlight reel.
- Get a job if necessary.
If you do all these things your chances of receiving NCAA basketball scholarships will be higher and you will be on your way to playing pro and getting a good education. Good Luck!