How to Play College Basketball – What Women’s Coaches Want in a Student-Athlete

By Steve O’Brien – Goal: College Athlete

What do Women’s College Basketball Coaches want in a Student-Athlete?

AT GCA, we have asked hundreds of Women’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 Women’s College Basketball Coaches across Divisions I, II and III. We wanted to share some of the best answers to give young women 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 Women’s College Basketball player:

Kelly Greenberg – Boston University – Head Coach

We look for character, personality and work ethic. A player’s presence on the court goes a long way for us. It is somewhat easy to simply find talent and skill; so, we make sure to notice how they interact with their teammates during the game; do they exhibit leadership qualities in the lay-up lines before the start of the game, how do they respond when things are not going their way, how do they respond when a coach gets on them a bit…we have stopped recruiting many solid players because of their behavior and body language. (we make decisions on more than 1 evaluation). And, our recruits must be a worker. Our program is based on hard work. Lastly, I think it is important to narrow in on players who fall in love with our school, our program and our city. We have gone with the less-talented player simply because she expressed how much she wanted to be a part of our program.

Chante Bonds – Holy Cross – Assistant Coach 

Competitiveness – Holy Cross has very high standards academically so we look for kids who are not only competitive on the basketball court but who are also competitive in the classroom as well. On the court we are looking for kids who compete on every play on both ends of the floor even if their offense may be better than their defense or vice versa we are looking at all around hustle and effort.

Team Player – We look for kids who are willing to make sacrifices for the better of the team. You can typically see this displayed watching them play and also when they are on the bench. We watch recruits even when they are not on the court to see how they interact with the team. It is very important to see a recruit cheer their teammates on when they are on the bench or even if they are having a bad game. I believe true character is shown during these moments.

Upside Potential – Sometimes there may be an athlete that we are recruiting who isn’t currently the most skilled player however you can tell that with hard work and more practice they will definitely get better. I have seen in some cases some athletes that are very good at a certain age and they have hit their peak. They may increase their skill in one part of the game however their overall skill level will stay the same. Then there are athletes who are out there who are good now and have great potential to be better players when they learn about the game and practice more often.

Adam Surguine – Lancaster Bible College – Assistant Coach

There are a few qualities that we look for when recruiting a player that go outside the normal scope of work ethic, skill, and character. Those are obviously extremely important, but the recruits who stand out to us have these qualities. First they are not afraid to ask questions. Whether that be about basketball, school, life, etc., they always want to learn. Second, they are a constant energy giver. Even on the dog days, they are there feeding energy into their team. Third, they know their strengths and weaknesses. They know to execute their strengths and rely on them, but also improve their weaknesses and make them strengths. Finally, we want a player that is prepared. We want a player that is prepared day in and day out for practice, game, class, study hall, etc., they are always ready and focused on what they are doing. We also want a player that is ready to adjust to the college lifestyle. They need to be prepared for more freedom and responsibility, and be able to adjust and perform accordingly.

Mountain MacGillivray – Quinnipiac University – Assistant Coach

Coaching at a low level Division I program there are a lot of players who can compete at our level. So once we identify players who are skilled and athletic enough to play at our level we start to narrow things down. 1st and foremost toughness. A player who is not both physically tough and mentally tough will not reach their potential. The ability to withstand contact and overcome fatigue and failure is essential in any player we recruit. 2nd is work ethic. We ask a lot of questions of coaches and people who have been around the recruit with regards to how hard they work in the team structure and how hard and often they work on their own. The 3rd facet we try to gauge is “likeability”, will I want this kid as a teammate. Does she interact well with her teammates, coaches, parents. If you don’t like how she interacts with people in the High School / AAU setting it is not going to change in College. With regards to the talent facets, the ability to score the ball is primary. Physical size, strength and speed separate those kids who can score the ball from one another.

Staci Andrews – Springfield College – Assistant Coach

We look for recruits who are committed students, competent and dedicated athletes and exemplify quality of character. We conduct a preliminary evaluation of basketball talent in accordance with positions that are lacking skill and/or depth in order to formulate a competitive roster of players. We evaluate talent at AAU tournaments, high school games, and through video analysis of games submitted on DVD. We evaluate basketball talent according to a rubric of required skills by position as well as overall athleticism, fitness and strength.

Academically, we screen recruits according to their academic interests and our institutional programs. If our institution matches the athlete’s academic interest, we inquire about study habits, high school GPA, and SAT scores.

The qualities of character we seek are related to the following: positive attitude and work ethic, respect for self and others, competitiveness and resiliency, self-discipline, valuing friendship, leadership, honesty and integrity, commitment to a cause bigger than each individual, and trust.

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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