It is the peak of the summer basketball season and college coaches are out in abundance, evaluating, recruiting and scouting youth basketball talent. For the player, the camps they attend and the games they play are all chances to impress and give a demonstration of their physical resume. Players who want to continue on to play college basketball need to understand what the coaches they are “interviewing” for are looking for and how they can best maximize every minute they are in their presence.
Firstly, the mentality of the player must be addressed. It can be a nerve-racking time to play in front of prominent coaches especially when you know they hold the keys to your future if they so decide to offer scholarships and spots on their respective teams. Let me assure you, coaches are smart, they are experienced, and they have seen thousands of players. You don’t have to do anything more than just simply being yourself and playing your own game. Coaches can tell right away if you are forcing it, cracking under the pressure, and playing like a robot. The best advice in this situation is for you to take the weight of all the eyes watching and evaluating and use it for good. Feel motivated, feel energized, and feel honored that you even have a chance to audition. Remember, playing basketball is fun and that enjoyment of playing should never be taken away from you by anyone.
Now on to the list of things of questions coaches ask themselves as they are watching and evaluating a player at a summer exposure camp or AAU tournament:
1. Is the player active? Do they play hard on every possession?
Unfortunately, playing hard has become a skill, instead of just being a mandatory requirement to even get on the court. Just look at guys like Joakim Noah and Kenneth Faried who game-in and game-out outwork their opponents. High energy players are always in demand. You can have a game where your shot isn’t falling, or you are a step slow on defense but never should you fall prey to being lazy and inactive. Playing hard is something you have complete control over.
2. Does the player seem engaged on offense as well as (and more importantly) on defense? Does he/she look self-motivated and driven?
At exposure camp games or AAU tournaments it seems that there are some players who only play one side of the ball, with that one side usually being offense. On defense these same players look lost, play out of a stance, and seem downright disinterested in playing defense all together. At the next level, the defensive emphasis is greater than you think. If you look at the difference between a college and high school basketball practice, the time spent on mastering defense is noticeable. And when it comes to being disengaged on offense, there is the player that simply stands still the entire possession waiting to get the ball to finally try to do something themselves. In the heat of the summer where on-lookers are amazed at the nice moves and dunks, coaches are assessing whether you are motivated and self driven enough to make things happen on offense and defense with an without the ball. Take pride in shutting down your man, helping your teammates and moving intelligently on offense.