Playing basketball at a Power 5 conference school is reserved for a select few. The below 5 key facts share how successful those teams have been in dominating competition as well as sending players on to successful basketball careers post-college.
- NCAA Championships: Historically, teams from the Power Five conferences have frequently won NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, 44 of the 82 championships held since 1939 have been won by Power Five conference teams.
- Tournament Appearances: Power Five conference teams regularly earn spots in the NCAA tournament. In the 2019 tournament, 32 of the 68 teams (nearly 50%) were from Power Five conferences.
- Player Success: Many NBA and WNBA players come from Power Five conference schools. For instance, the 2021 NBA draft saw 19 of the 30 first-round picks come from Power Five conference schools.
- Recruiting Power: Power Five conference schools typically have successful recruiting classes. According to ESPN’s 2021 recruiting class rankings, 22 of the top 25 men’s classes and 20 of the top 25 women’s classes belonged to Power Five schools.
- Revenue: Power Five conference basketball programs generate significant revenue. As an example, the Big Ten Conference reportedly distributed nearly $55 million in revenue to each of its 14 schools in the 2018-19 academic year, with basketball being a substantial contributor.
Power Five conference basketball teams are often composed of some of the best players in collegiate athletics.
The players typically come from a wide range of backgrounds and geographical locations, but they all share a commonality of being exceptional athletes.
- Recruitment Geography: Many players are recruited from high schools across the United States, often from regions or cities known for producing high-level basketball talent. Some come from prep schools or sports academies that offer rigorous athletic training alongside academics. Increasingly, players are also recruited internationally, from countries around the world that have strong youth basketball programs.
- Skill Level: Power Five conference players generally have an elite skill level. They possess strong fundamental basketball skills, including shooting, passing, dribbling, rebounding, and defending. Many have specialized skills that make them stand out, such as exceptional three-point shooting, shot-blocking, or playmaking abilities. They’re often physically gifted as well, boasting a combination of size, strength, speed, agility, and coordination that separates them from less competitive players.
- Comparison to High School Players: While it’s important to remember that all Power Five conference players were once high school players themselves, they represent a very small, select fraction of the total population of high school basketball athletes. According to the NCAA, only about 3.4% of male and 3.8% of female high school basketball players go on to compete at the NCAA Division I level. The percentage that makes it to Power Five conference programs is even smaller. Thus, these players are the crème de la crème, the best of the best. They are typically the standout players in their high school leagues, often receiving numerous accolades and recognition, such as All-State and All-American honors.
- Experience: By the time these players reach Power Five programs, they have usually amassed significant basketball experience. This includes not only their high school careers but often participation in elite AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) programs, national tournaments, and basketball camps, where they have had the opportunity to hone their skills and compete against other top-level talent.
- Development: Power Five programs also have the resources to further develop these players. With access to top-notch coaching staff, state-of-the-art training facilities, and competitive games, players continue to refine their skills, tactical understanding, and physical capabilities, further widening the gap between them and the average high school player.
The players that make up Power Five conference basketball rosters are a diverse group, but they are united by their exceptional basketball skills, physical attributes, competitive experience, and the extensive development they undergo as part of these elite programs.
Earning a spot on a Power Five conference basketball team is a significant achievement that requires skill, commitment, and strategy. Here are some steps a high school player can take to improve their chances of being recruited:
- Develop Skills: First and foremost, players need to consistently work on their skills. This includes fundamental basketball abilities like shooting, dribbling, passing, rebounding, and defending, but also sports-specific conditioning, agility, and strength training.
- Play at a High Level: Join an AAU or other competitive basketball team that participates in high-level tournaments. This exposure is crucial because college coaches often attend these events to scout prospective recruits.
- Excel Academically: Good grades and test scores are not only required for NCAA eligibility but can also make a player more attractive to college coaches who want athletes that can succeed academically as well as athletically.
- Create a Highlight Reel: Develop a concise, high-quality video highlighting your skills, understanding of the game, and competitive spirit. Make sure it showcases not only your scoring ability but also your defense, passing, rebounding, and basketball IQ.
- Attend Basketball Camps: Many colleges host summer basketball camps that are attended by their coaching staff. These provide opportunities for players to gain exposure and demonstrate their skills directly to college coaches.
- Build Relationships with Coaches: Reach out to college coaches with a personalized letter expressing interest in their program and providing information about your academic and athletic achievements. Maintain communication and build a relationship with them.
- Promote Yourself: Utilize social media and recruiting networks to promote your skills and achievements. Highlight your academic achievements, athletic awards, and game statistics.
- Be a Team Player: Coaches value players who make their teams better. Show that you understand your role, can work well with others, and can contribute to a positive team culture.
- Stay Dedicated: Demonstrate dedication to the sport through a strong work ethic and commitment. Coaches are looking for players who are willing to put in the effort to continuously improve.
- Seek Guidance: A high school coach, athletic director, or a recruiting service can provide valuable advice and guidance throughout the recruiting process. They can help identify suitable schools, assist with communications, and provide support throughout the process.
Remember, being recruited to play in a Power Five conference is a competitive process, and it’s essential to be proactive and strategic to increase your chances.