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How Basketball Coaches and Recruiters Evaluate Players

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We get emails from players all over the country asking us to evaluate them as players. They will occasionally send us a DVD or video clip from YouTube and then want us to tell them what we think.

It isn't always cut and dry because every player is different and every situation is different. We don't always have all the facts. We don't always get to see the competition and the tape is always skewed to be the best of someone instead of just how they perform every game.

Having said that, here is what we look at when evaluating players:

Actually, before I get into the list let me make something clear that is the absolute most important part of the entire process. The evaluator must be completely honest with the player and their parents or the process is worthless. If a player struggles with dribbling then they need to be told that and it needs to be in no uncertain terms. Nothing good is being accomplished by getting a false evaluation from someone who is afraid to tell the truth.


It is important for us to see the size and weight of the person we are evaluating. This makes a big difference because we might be watching a 6 foot shooting guard who doesn't have phenomenal ball handling ability. When that person asks me what I think I have to tell them that they aren't big enough to play shooting guard at the collegiate level and so they better work 24/7 on obtaining the skills all upper level point guards need to possess. When coaches are looking at kids they want to see kids who can handle their position without causing disadvantages to having them on the team. Where this blurs is when you get a 6 foot 5 post player who can't play facing the basket. In college there just aren't a lot of post players that size. That player will have to learn to face the basket, even if they score 25 a game on a High School team. The next level is very different.

Athletic ability

I want to see how quick and fast a player is. Can they run the court ok? Can they jump? Are they a 1 foot jumper or a 2 foot jumper? All those things factor in to the evaluating process. Many players are signed based strictly on this alone because you can't teach real speed and jumping ability or hope someone magically comes into it. You can make these players better shooters and ball players.

Understanding of the game

I especially like this part. I really like to see if they get situations and now how to play the game correctly. Players that can play within a team concept are fun to watch and easy to spot. Talent always shines through but the hidden talents like finding mismatches or reading defenses are always the best to see. I love players that make the extra pass and make their teammates better.

Plays the game hard

Nothing frustrates an evaluator more than seeing a player who has all of the above but they don't always play hard. At the High School level the most talented players tend to take plays off because the game comes easy to them. Coaches want to see kids get after it and show relentless effort.


Can they shoot? How is their form? Do they pass correctly? Do they play defense? Are they coachable? Do they take a charge or shy away from contact? Can they create their own shot? All these things are the real guts of the game. By far this is the most important.

Let me give you a real life example of a player who was just named to the Parade All American Team from the tiny town of Panaca, Nevada. Dantley Walker recently broke the Nevada all-time state scoring record. Go find Dantley on Facebook and or YouTube and watch some clips, you'll be glad you did. Dantley also set the state assists record proving that he's a complete player.

What's interesting is Dantley went the entire year without a scholarship offer until several weeks ago. He wasn't getting any real Division I offers and do you want to know why? Nobody could figure the kid out. Dantley plays at a very small school in a town of roughly a few thousand people, tops. The competition he played against wasn't the best and he measures at only 5 foot 10 weighing 160 pounds. He can't dunk and isn't the fastest kid in the world. When scouts would watch him play they'd see all the negatives and couldn't decide what was more important. Here was a kid who would score 50 points a game while being guarded by 2-3 players at a time.

He was the High School version of Jimmer Fredette. Just like how Jimmer wasn't always taken serious by NBA scouts, Dantley wasn't taken serious by college coaches. It wasn't until he scored 73 points in a game that he really started to get attention and was recently offered a scholarship by UNLV, which he accepted. Nobody knows how Dantley Walker will translate into the college game because players are bigger, faster and stronger but Dantley could just play basketball better than almost every High School kid in the country this season and in the end that won out.

If you can play you can play and someone will find you. I've said it 100 times but it only takes one evaluator to like your game. Sometimes all it takes is 1 scout or 1 coach to appreciate the way you play.

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