Prep School Basketball: Shit Makes Sense (sometimes)

Prep School Basketball: Shit Makes Sense (sometimes)

Been getting a lot of questions from parents and players about Prep Schools… Have some friends that recently placed their kids in prep programs… This burst of interest in Prep basketball was expected. With the dramatic shift in the scholarship market, 17, 18 and 19 year old students face tough choices. For many, Prep School basketball is a rational move… Shit makes sense…

Think about this…

For the first time in history, every men’s and women’s college basketball team in America could theoretically field the exact same team again for the 2021-2022 season. This season will not be applied to the student-athlete’s eligibility clock.

The 2020-21 season is a free year as far as eligibility is concerned. This rule change is having an enormous impact on the scholarship market.

Walk through the basic numbers…

Let’s say there are 350 Division 1 basketball programs. Each program has 13 basketball scholarships. There are roughly 4,550 scholarships. Every year around 1,000 or so D1 scholarships become available.

Not this year… Everyone playing college sports can theoretically come back next year. The extent to which player take advantage of this rule change directly impacts the number of available basketball scholarships.

Somewhere less than 100% of the student-athletes will choose to stay. Some guys will just want to get on with their lives. Coaches may not want all of their players to return. For illustrative purposes, let’s say half or 50% choose to play another year of college basketball. The number of available scholarships decreases to a mere 500 or so. If 30% choose to stay the number of available scholarships decrease to 700.

The recruitment process can get even more complex and daunting for high school prospects and their parents.

College coaches fully realize that any player currently participating in NCAA basketball could conceivably play on their team next season. Players can transfer one time and play immediately without sitting out a year in residence.

This is pure free agency.

These conditions have never existed before. College coaches have adapted their recruitment strategies in light of the relaxed transfer constraints. Plainly stated, college transfers are preferred over high school prospects in most situations. Real rap…

So much so that once vaccines are widely available, one can envision some college coaches literally recruiting in the hand shake line after the games…

As of right now, many college coaches are not even considering high school players.

The market shift is forcing an increased number of high school players and their families to consider “Prep Schools” or accept slots in D2, D3 or NAIA programs.

One thing for sure in college basketball, levels matter. As they say, “it’s levels to this shit.” This statement definitely applies to college hoops. Players and parents want to play at the highest level. They want to play D1 hoops.

Rather than abandoning hopes of playing D1 basketball, more and more prospects are going the Prep School route.

With far-reaching regulatory changes enacted by the NCAA, this route will appeal to an increasing number of prospects.

There’s a lot of variation in Prep School Programs. There are some really excellent programs and there are some really bad ones. This is a largely unregulated area.

Buyer beware…

Prep schools have been around for a long time. Since the early 1900’s, the term “prep school” has been associated with predominantly white, private, elite institutions that have highly competitive admission criteria and high tuition fees, catering to students in the 8th – 12th grade range. Many of the elite prep schools are located in New England. These schools charge tuition ($20,000 to 70,000). Some prep schools are affiliated with a particular religious denomination. Independent preparatory schools are not governed by a religious organization, and students are usually not required to receive instruction in one particular religion. Graduates of these schools typically enter highly competitive colleges such as those in the Ivy League. Many of these prep schools have fine basketball programs.

Then… on the other end of the spectrum, there are basketball clubs that label themselves as “Prep schools.” These are programs where the emphasis is solely on basketball. Some of these programs play 60-70 games per season. In the past, schools like this were able to provide miraculous academic recoveries for students in a short amount of time. However, the NCAA began to argue that they did so with “little-to-no instruction.”

Eventually, the NCAA created a list of Prep Schools whose transcripts are no longer be accepted because of what they described as questionable academic credentials.

Parents MUST verify that any academic work completed under the auspices of the Prep School will be accepted by the NCAA.

Ask the Head Coach and/or Director of the Prep School for the School’s NCAA High School Code or CEEB/ACT Code. With either code you can search for a high school’s list of NCAA courses with this link.

https://web3.ncaa.org/hsportal/exec/hsAction?hsActionSubmit=searchHighSchool

If you don’t know the school’s NCAA High School Code or six-digit CEEB/ACT Code, you may search by city/state and high school name.

If… Academic concerns are part of the equation, parents MUST verify that the classes will be accepted.

Here’s the interesting thing though… More than likely, there will be a significant increase in the number of NCAA eligible kids that just want to play Prep School basketball. For many, this makes perfect sense. They don’t have D1 offers and they want to get better and earn a D1 scholarship. The NCAA clock does not start while a kid is in Prep School. Kids can play a full schedule of games, practice everyday, get stronger and further develop skill sets.

Kids that are NCAA eligible, can take up to 6 credit hours per semester at a Community College. A qualified Prep student could enter college with 18-24 credit hours under his belt.

Most importantly, by playing at the Prep level a kid’s NCAA eligibility clock does not begin.

If a kid is NCAA eligible, he could focus entirely on basketball, strength, conditioning and nutrition. Good prep school programs are strong in these areas.

Some reputable prep programs in the mid-Atlantic region include, Mt. Zion Prep (MD), Rocktop Academy (PA), Covenant Prep (NJ) and Olympus Prep (NJ). All of these programs play strong national Prep school schedules.

Rod Harrison, Founder, Mt. Zion Prep

Mt. Zion Prep Sports Academy is located in Lanham, Maryland. n 2011, Founded in 2011, by Rodrick Harrison and Brian Scott. Mt. Zion Prep has emerged as one of the premiere Prep Programs in the Nation. Mt. Zion is an independent prep program that competes on a national level. Mt. Zion has competed in the National Prep Showcase as well as the National Prep School Invitational. Obi Toppin, the 8th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery is a Mt. Zion alum.

Sam Rines, Founder, Rocktop Academy

Founded by Sam Rines, Rocktop Academy is located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA and directly across from the largest shopping mall in the United States. It is the only prep school partnered with the fastest growing recruiting service in the country, BasketballFinders.com.’s With more than 100 universities within a 50 mile radius of Philadelphia and many more throughout the northeast, Rocktop Academy is ideally located. Los Angeles Laker forward Kyle Kuzma in a Rocktop Alum.

Ian Turnbill, Founder, Covenant College Prep

Founded by Ian Turnbill, Covenant College Prep is located in Belmar, New Jersey. Turnbill has built a respected basketball academy with a college level training program. He emphasizes three core components:
1) Strength and conditioning training, measurably improving on court performance; 2) On court college level skill development, and; 3) Comprehensive meal program to enhance training. Temple freshman Nick Jourdain is a Covenant Prep alum.

Rob Lawton, Olympus Prep Head Coach

Founded by Todd Beamon and Rich Marcucci, Olympus Prep is located in West Berlin, New Jersey. Marcucci has decades of experience running Prep Programs. He has worked with some of the best college and professional players to come out the Greater Philadelphia region. Eugene Teague (Seton Hall/Europe), Marcus and Markeiff Morris (Kansas/NBA) played in Marcucci’s program. Olympus has a modern, safe basketball facility and produces highly skilled, and disciplined players.

Players and parents have to do their research. Before anything, players have to realistically assess their value in today’s basketball scholarship market. Are you likely to attract a D1 offer? Please keep in mind, there are fewer available D1 scholarships… Additionally, high school kids are competing with more 21, 22 and 23 year old student-athletes for this smaller number of scholarships.

Players and parents then have to try to realistically project value after a year of serious training. If the player is committed he can improve and demonstrate improvement while playing at any of the prep programs listed above. Division 1 coaches regularly recruit players from these prep programs.

But, if a player is bullshittin’ his situation will not change.

In some cases… Maybe most cases…

Kids will be better off accepting one of the D2, D3 or NAIA offers on the table. In the grand scheme of things, the objective is to leverage basketball ability for access to higher education. A D2 or NAIA scholarship accomplishes this goal. For outstanding students, D3 programs offer outstanding merit-based financial aid packages. If you are a D1 player, it will become evident and you will be able to transfer and play immediately without sitting out a year.

It’s a new era…