With thousands of athletes from across the nation all competing for a finite number of spots on a team’s roster, standing out is a difficult task.
Monday night inside the Woodstock High School auditorium, former National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics executive John McCarthy shed some light on the recruiting process in front of many interested high school student athletes and their parents who were in attendance at his Star Athletes recruiting seminar.
A former head basketball coach at Wilmington (Del.) University, athletic director of Lynn (Fla.) University and the founder of the Collegiate Basketball Invitational — which ran from 2006-08 and focused on promoting the basketball seniors from small college around the country — McCarthy was more than happy to share his knowledge on what college coaches are looking for when they scout talent, and what any prospective high school athlete should do to make themselves a worthy recruit.
For every high school athlete who hopes to move on to the next level of their respective sport, McCarthy believes certain essentials exist that each student-athlete needs to possess.
McCarthy’s first essential — possessing a high level of talent and skill — is perhaps the most obvious.
“Well, first off, you have to be a good athlete,” said McCarthy, who first began his coaching career at Wilmington in 1992 as an assistant coach. “Let’s be honest. At the end of the day, coaches want people with the ability to play. But what is important for students to understand is that there are more than enough athletes in this country to play every sport.”
For McCarthy, it is in the field of academics that many hopeful high school athletes are able to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
“I don’t know if I can emphasize enough how genuinely important the academic side of things really is,” McCarthy said. “Most coaches have a limited amount of athletic money that they can spend while filling their roster. The more academic scholarships a student earns, the less money a coach has to put forward to bring you in. By recruiting athletes that are also good students, a coach can stretch his amount of athletic money farther to get more athletes.”
McCarthy also felt that it was vital for students to understand that a major difference exists between being academically eligible to attend a school and actually being accepted.
“Just because you’re eligible doesn’t mean that you’re going to get in,” he said.
The third essential McCarthy felt was that all up-and-coming athletes should showcase themselves positively while being recruited — both on and off the court.
“I know coaches that will literally walk out of gyms if a recruit displays a bad attitude,” McCarthy said. “For some coaches, if they see a player that rolls their eyes or talks back to their parents or even their coach, they will stop recruiting them right there.”
Even if an athlete may possess the talent, grades and attitude necessary to break in to college athletics, McCarthy was quick to stress one last essential that he felt no athlete could survive without — the will to work hard.
“Talent is God-given, but skill is man-made,” McCarthy said. “It is earned. Sure, you’re going to get better in practice, but so is everyone else. It’s the extra reps you put in after practice that make the difference. Coaches are interested in students with great work ethic, because they know you will keep getting better.”