By Joe Henricksen

Division I is not the be-all, end-all

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By Joe Henricksen

Without trying to sound too much like a public service announcement for Division II, Division III and NAIA basketball schools, high school basketball players, their parents and even some recruiting evaluators have to get a grip. Every player is not a Division I prospect.

And you know what? It's not that bad if they aren't and, in some cases, it's better they aren't.

As many seniors await Division I offers or are set to sign their letter-of-intent with a Division I school a little later this month, the urgency and anxiousness is there for many in the Class of 2009. Will they get an offer? Where are the offers? There are seniors and even more younger players who have not given a thought to playing small college basketball. A lot of the Division II, Division III and NAIA coaches sit and wait for reality to set in for many of these players.

And in many cases, the reality is a better situation often exists at a smaller school. Sure, there are several players that are "Division I caliber". What is the most common question the Hoops Report gets from fans, parents, media and even college coaches when it comes to an individual player? "Is he a Division I player?" The problem is most of those players, parents and fans are talking a little higher level Division I than they should be. But there are many schools where these marginal Division I prospects can play at. After all, Utah Valley State, North Carolina Central, Houston Baptist, Central Arkansas and good 'ol Chicago State are Division I schools. Longwood, Seattle and Bryant are, too. But is that really the best fit for that player? Simply put, there is nothing wrong with not getting a Division I offer or -- gasp! -- overlooking, ignoring or turning down a Division I offer for the best possible fit.

Obviously the best fit is in the mind and eyes of the individual player. But going hundreds of miles away from home, to an average academic school to play in front of 340 fans a night for a program that has no realistic chance of playing in the postseason just to say "I play Division I basketball?" No, thank you.

There are so many players (and parents) that just don't get it. They don't understand the talent level at the highest Division III, Division II and NAIA levels. There are so many of these "small school" teams that can actually play with and beat some of these low-Division I schools. And many are better academic institutions and play in front of enthusiastic fans that actually fill a gym. In addition, they may have a chance to play more earlier in their career, be more productive as a player and experience more success.

I understand the need for some to get school paid for and to proclaim "I am a Division I basketball player." Thus, the goal of playing Division I basketball is ingrained in their head from the first day they lace'em up for their club basketball team in 7th grade. But again, Division II and NAIA schools offer scholarships, and often times Division III schools can put together some affordable financial aid packages.

And often it's simply more fun playing at a lower level. Go check out an Augustana-Illinois Wesleyan Division III matchup on a Saturday night to see and feel the atmosphere of a "lower-level" college basketball game. Then go catch the New Jersey Institute of Technology matchup with Utah Valley on Feb. 3 (yes, both are Division I basketball schools).

If the Division I schools don't come calling or if the right one just isn't the right fit or doesn't feel quite right, there are options. Very good options. In the end, give the small schools some time, respect and a chance. You just may be very thankful in four years.


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17 Comments

IN OTHER WORDS DON'T BE A ROUND PEG AND TRY TO FIT IN
A SQUARE HOLE, TO BREAK IT DOWN YOU SIGN WITH A D-1,
THEY REALLY DIDN'T WANT YOU, BUT THEY LOST THE PERSON
THEY REALLY WANTED, THEY SIGN YOU, YOU DON'T PAN OUT,
NOW YOUR SECOND YEAR YOU HAVE TO TRANSFER TO PROBABLY
A JUCO, (JUNIOR COLLEGE) AND NOW YOU HAVE TO RE-INVENT
YOURSELF AND FIND ANOTHER SCHOOL, BUT ALL OF THIS COULD
HAVE BEEN AVOIDED IF YOU WOULD FIND A SCHOOL THAT WANTS
YOU FOR YOU, WHETHER IT BE A D-2, D-3, NAIA, A SCHOOL
THAT WANTS YOU, WHERE YOU PLAY AND GET AN EDUCATION!
AND PLEASE BE A GOOD CITIZEN WHEN YOU ARRIVE ON CAMPUS,
YOUR ATTITUDE WILL DETERMINE YOUR ALTITUDE!

John Smith - Winona St. University (D2) - playing in the NBDL and nearly made the Lakers 16 man roster. If you work hard enough you will be rewarded.

Very well put and analyzed! Hopefully all the marginal Division I talent in Illinois reads this and takes notice!

Everybody sets goals in their lives but it's important to remember that a goal should be realistic and attainable. To me it seems like too many people are filling these athletes heads with unrealistic expectations. Especially from the parents! I enjoyed reading your opinion and praise for schools other than Division 1 and hope that it helps some of these crazy parents.

Great read! If I was a coach, I would steal your line "not everyone is a Division I athlete". Actually, I would do more than that! I would print this article out and hand it out to every parent whose kid is in the program.

Great Article. I just had the same conversation with my son who dreams of Div.II or III basketball. He just wants to play and have fun and get his education.

GREAT PLUG FOR WINONA STATE, DIVISION 2 NATIONAL
CHAMPS, AND THEY JUST SIGNED TWO YOUNGSTERS FROM THE
CHICAGO AREA!
I WAS JUST ON THE AMTRAK, THIS SCHOOL HAS ITS OWN
AMTRAK STATION BY THE WAY, AND THE CAMPUS WAS VERY
WELL KEPT AND LOOKED GREAT!

The article is very well written,what it not said is that everybody wants to be a superstar,and get newspapers articles adn recruiting sites follow them.How much coverage do d2/juco/naia basketball get? next to none.I think if the media gave more coverage to college basketball at other levels kids would not have a mindset of d1 or nothing.

You are right and you have it right with Illinois Wesleyan University in D3. While reading the first half of your post, I said to myself, "oh yeah, you should see an Illinois Wesleyan mens basketball game in the CCIW conference." And then you said it! I've been able to catch some IWU games over the last 15 years. Total passion. The players are tough and smart, and the fans are die-hard-loyal at every game. Then you get very strong academics and class act Athletics Director Dennie Bridges as well. No, I am not an alum, nor a Bloomington resident; just a convert fan to exciting D3 sports. Go catch a good D3 rivalry game, you'll see what I'm talking about!

Heck, a lot of D1 gyms are not as nice as IWU's Shirk Center:

http://www.iwuhoops.com/

THE CCIW IS NO JOKE, GREAT BASKETBALL, JACK SIKMA
HAS GIVEN ALOT OF MONEY TO HIS ALMA MATER ILLINOIS
WESLEYAN, THAT FIELD HOUSE IS STATE OF THE ART!
ELMHURST, NORTH PARK, NORTH CENTRAL, AUGUSTANA,
MILLIKEN, ILLINOIS WESLEYAN, WHEATON, CARTHAGE ALL MAKE
UP THE CCIW!

I KNOW THIS IS A BASKETBALL SITE, BUT JUST FOR
INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES, TUSKEGEE UNIVERSITY, HAS NOT
LOST A FOOTBALL GAME IN 3 YEARS!
THIS IS A DIVISION 2 SCHOOL, THAT HAS DEFEATED D-1
SCHOOLS THE LAST 3 YEARS, THEY HAVE DEFEATED ALABAMA
STATE TWICE AND THIS SEASON THEY DEFEATED ALABAMA A&M
AT THE CIRCLE CITY CLASSIC IN INDIANAPOLIS!
THEY HAVE PRODUCED PROFESSIONALS- DRAYTON FLORENCE
CURRENTLY WITH JACKSONVILLE, FRANK WALKER CURRENTLY
WITH THE BALTIMORE RAVENS, ROOSEVELT WILLIAMS FORMER
DRAFT PICK OF THE BEARS CURRENTLY PLAYS IN CANADA!
THIS IS THE ONLY HBCU WITH A VETERINARIAN SCHOOL ON
ITS CAMPUS!

I agree totally and as derrius said i too had a conversation with my son whose all conference at evergreen pk highschool in the south suburban conference and a senior this year...all he wants to do is play college basketball he does'nt care whether it's div 1 div 2 or 3. I shared this article with him and he was very excited and feels that he's got a good chance to play college ball...Thank you for this post!!! awesome advice!!!

What is that guy talking about?

I have to disagree with that last comment...doesn't make sense

When I read a really great article I go ahead and do one of three thing:

1.Forward it to all the close contacts.

2.keep it in all my best social sharing websites.

3.Be sure to come back to the website where I came accross the article.

After reading this article I am seriously thinking of going ahead and doing all 3.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on November 5, 2008 5:41 PM.

Eastern Illinois lands a steal in Pratl was the previous entry in this blog.

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