The Basketball Recruiting Fiesta: Column 1

Darby Festa ('13), Sports Editor

The recruiting process is an odd thing.

It’s not always a game of cat and mouse, as most might expect. It’s more like cat and cat. Sometimes, I’ll tell the college ‘Hey, I’d like to play for you!’ and other times they’ll tell me ‘Hey, we’d like you to play for us!’

It all seems very simple, right?

Wrong.

Take this summer for example. People keep telling me that this is the summer. This is the summer to impress all of the coaches. This is the summer to have a final great season on my AAU team. This is the summer where I will (hopefully) find a college that I like, and likes me back.

If only it were that easy.

An average week for me is non-stop basketball. Every day, I have some sort of training, mostly two-a-days. Whether its two hours spent at Nexxt Level sports, or a two-hour practice for my AAU team, I always have to work on my skills – keep them fine-tuned. This is in addition to the summer league games for East, which are held twice a week, or other scrimmages and pick-up games off of the fly. And that’s just during the week. On weekends, it’s time to travel – tournaments, camps, college visits, you name it. And the cherry on top: fielding the phone calls and e-mails that no matter what, you have to reply to. During this entire process, one saying has been drilled into my head: “don’t burn bridges”. Basically, this means that even if I’m not interested in a college, I can never turn the coach down. Because this whole process is a game of what-ifs. What if a coach decides to go in another direction, leaving you out to dry? What if you suddenly decide you want to major in something that only one school offers? You have to keep all options open – expect the unexpected – because if something comes up in the fall of senior year, you may come to regret rejecting the school that suddenly isn’t looking all that bad.

This past weekend, I flew out to the University of Chicago for their “Elite Camp”. At these camps, the coach invites his or her top prospects for an all-day camp to evaluate them. It also allows for the players to tour the campus, meet the rest of the team, and learn a little bit more about the school. But it’s tiring. It seems that during these visits, more time is spent in the airport and on the plane than at my actual destination. And the best part is, I came back Sunday night…and in just  a few days, I’ll be off again, heading to a three day camp at Washington University in St. Louis!

It’s not all that bad, though. Just hectic. I’ve officially kissed goodbye any chance of having one of those lazy summer days. Those can wait for the time being. I’d like to be accepted into college first.