In the spirit of summer tournaments and off-season workouts, I talked with the Sanford Power Basketball Academy Director Patrick Coughlin about what high school players who dream of making it to the collegiate level can do to improve their chances of getting noticed by potential schools. The former USF basketball player now travels across the country overseeing tournaments and camps (is currently doing so in the Bahamas!), and facilitates communication lines between collegiate programs and prospective players. So, I thought who better to run through a Q&A than someone who has not only been through the recruitment process himself, but who now provides college coaches with player information, while mentoring athletes who are going through their own process?
What should be the biggest focus during the off-season for athletes hoping to play at the next level?
Patrick Coughlin: The biggest focus should be to continue to get in the gym and grow as a player. There are many opportunities and ways to do so. Attending camps and workouts is one way. Getting daily shots at your high school gym, playing on summer teams to expand your view point, and play with and against new athletes and competition. It’s important to stay connected with your high school programs and teammates. It’s also just as important to spend time in the weight room as in the gym. Working on your body is crucial to playing at the next level. Weight training, agility training, and nutrition are all extremely important to getting yourself at your peak level. No matter where you play at the next level, the speed and physicality of the game are always the two consistent things players have to get comfortable with when they make that jump from high school to college.
What kind of programs do you run during the summer for high school athletes?
PC: We run a variety of programs for high school athletes in the summer months. We offer many skill-specific camps, weekly workout sessions that run for a month at a time, and we focus on a variety of different skills during those month-long sessions touching on many areas of the game. We pair those workouts with training sessions with our strength and conditioning staff at the Sanford Fieldhouse to offer a well-rounded opportunity for athletes. We have our summer teams that consist of athletes from across the region that compete at several events during the summer months. Those teams’ practice and play in roughly 5-6 events over the course of the summer. We also have high school summer leagues for high school programs that run for several weeks in the summer. It allows high school teams the opportunity to stay connected and play against other schools during those summer months.
Out of those, are there specific tournaments should they make sure they’re involved in?
There are many options for tournaments throughout the country. Another area of consideration are the “live” and “dead” periods that apply to division I and II programs throughout the summer. It’s good to get a mix for in-state and out-of-state tournaments to get a well-rounded summer basketball experience to play against athletes from outside your normal region. It pushes athletes and opens them up to different styles of play and different experiences.
Expanding your reach when playing can’t hurt when hoping to be heard about or noticed! You talk to college coaches, what’s the number one thing they ask about when looking at one of your athletes?
PC: Can they helps us be successful. That’s a very broad question in that it’s not always the statistics they are talking about. Those things are important, but the intangibles are always a big focus for coaches when looking at players. Are they a good teammate, how do they carry themselves on and off the floor, how is their body language throughout the game as there are ups and downs? How do they interact with teammates and their coaches? Are they positive and building others around them up? The details are what coaches look for in players just as much as their ability. They have a culture at their respective universities, and they want to make sure they recruit players that would fit and help grow their culture and program.
The intangibles are crucial in a recruit. Is there a specific time when the players should begin to make a highlight reel?
PC: I wouldn’t say there is hard time frame of when to consider setting up a highlight reel or Hudl reel. More often than not, a majority of an athletes potential recruiting will begin taking place the summer before their junior year through their senior year. Hudl has opened up the world of recruiting in a big way. It allows coaches to view potential recruits and there film online with just a few clicks. It has given players and coaches a lot more freedom both ways to be noticed and to find, or recruit potential athletes for their programs. So, I would say definitely be involved and active on that site.
Great information, thanks so much, Patrick! If you want to check out more on what the academy offers, head on over to sanfordpentagon.com/basketball.