How to Play College Basketball – 5 Men’s Basketball Coaches Answer

By Steve O’Brien – Goal: College Athlete

AT GCA, we have asked hundreds of Men’s College Basketball Coaches this question:

Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?

We have received a range of thoughtful and relevant responses from Men’s College Basketball Coaches across Divisions I, II and III. We wanted to share some of the best answers to give young/high school men’s basketball players some perspectives that they might be overlooking and motivating them to put more emphasis on these qualities to reach their goals and become a College Basketball player:

Dick Meader – University of Maine at Farmington – Head Coach

I am attaching a “Program Ideals” that indicates the characteristics that we would like to have in our program. If a recruit has those qualities, we would be very pleased. I think the difference in many athletes is how goal orientated are they. The more solid they are as a student, the more reliable they will be as an athlete.



Off Season Development

Skill Development

Strength Training


Practice Attitudes

Be a great practice player

Become better each day

Game speed each day

Academic Responsibilities

Go to every class

Be prepared for class

Be attentive in class


In any situation, do the right thing

Treat everyone with respect

Be a great teammate


Challenge your limits – not limit your challenges

Play with Enthusiasm

Play Together

Play Hard

Adam Turner – Bard College – Head Coach

We are looking for 6 intangible qualities that make up championship level players and people. If you are in the range of talent that fits our level it is the these traits that matter the most. Spirit, Communication, Hustle, Approach, Precision, and ability to Enhance their environment. We look for these traits on the court (what is your approach to a teammates mistake, how much do you hustle, how precise are you in a practice or workout, what kind of spirit do you bring on the bench or court, how much do you talk, are you leading your teammates and enhancing what they can do). We ideally want to find players that have all 6 categories but the biggest thing is you CAN NOT have a negative approach, no spirit, never talk, etc… We know we can teach a player with average communication skills to talk more but if the player is just QUIET and doesn’t seem to want to change we won’t touch them. Obviously the more talent a player has the more of a chance we will take them on if they aren’t quite as adept in each area but no matter how talented they are they can’t display negative traits in these areas. If you are a lower skilled/athletic player you can stand out by displaying these traits.

Kareem Brown – Long Island University (CW Campus) – Assistant Coach

When looking for a student-athlete, we first must have some type of interest:

* Does this player have potential or above average talent (Talent that is good enough to play division 1). Most often we look at the players’ offensive talent.

* Then we look at does this player fit in the way our program likes to play.

* Another quality is how hard does the individual play during each game we evaluate him in.

* Does the player show some type of toughness, mental/physical

* And finally do we see room for improvement.


As we start to recruit the student-athlete:

* Does the individual have the grades to play D2.

* Does the individual have a good character.

* Is the individual coachable – rarely ever known until we actually coach them.

* Are there good vibes as the recruiting process goes on.


Chris Murphy – Maine Maritime Academy – Head Coach

As an NCAA Division III college the three main areas I am most concerned with are: 1. personal character – must be upstanding citizens with a strong work ethic and a strong commitment to being a good person, a good student, and becoming to the best player they can be. 2. academics – student-athletes must place a top priority on academics and preparing themselves for a successful future. 3. ability – can’t win consistently without it but, in the long run, it is worthless without the personal character and priority on academics.


Charlie Brock – Springfield College – Head Coach

Qualities- Assistant coaches are required to answer three questions to recruit a player. Does he have a respect for authority?- exhibited by how he deals with adversity, officials, coaches and constructive criticism, and parents. Does the family have a burning desire for education?-Private education costs too much for someone to be successful if they take it for granted. Does the individual possess good character?- What does the kid do when no one is watching. How much does he put into it when not required to. What is his work ethic after practice, lifting on his own, and out of season?



About Steve O'Brien
Steve O'Brien is the co-creator of Goal: College Athlete (GCA). The website was built to inspire young athletes to reach their goal of playing college sports. Information includes a pro-active plan to get the attention of college coaches and also insight from college coaches on what qualities they look for in a potential recruit. Steve played College Hockey at the University of New Hampshire, graduating in 1999. Questions? Send Steve an email at [email protected]

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