Sophomore Year: What to Expect & How to Prepare
:: FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS… within your sport and become a master of those! Don’t worry about the recruiting process; focus all of your energy on being the best player that you can be and on being a great leader and teammate. The better you play and the more games your team wins, the better your odds are of being discovered! Put 100% effort into your fundamentals—even if you are on the JV team!
:: FOCUS ON YOUR GRADES… and set good study habits. Set aside time for homework each day. Your sophomore grades will be heavily evaluated when you are a junior. You don’t want grades to be a factor that eliminates you off of a coach’s ‘watch list’ later down the road.
:: MAKE SURE YOUR GRADES EXCEED THE ‘NCAA SLIDING SCALE’ STANDARDS
– Division I signees need to qualify academically based on their Core GPA and ACT/SAT test scores. Division II requires even higher SAT/ACT minimums. Even if you dream is to go Division I, have the grades to qualify for Division II as well, you don’t want to miss out on all of those additional scholarship opportunities. Additionally, each university sets their own student-athlete academic standards which may be even higher than the NCAA Division I or Division II standards.
:: IF SENT A QUESTIONNAIRE BY A SCHOOL… fill it out and return it promptly! It is a sign of interest, RESPOND!
:: AFTER YOUR SOPHOMORE SEASON IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO BEGIN TO TAKE THE ACT OR SAT TEST… By testing early, it will give you an idea of what subjects you need to make improvements in during the next few years. Check with your coach or guidance counselor, there are NCAA standards (and different standards at each university) that must be met with your GPA and your ACT/SAT test scores. If you are financially unable to afford the ACT/SAT tests, check with your coach or guidance counselor for a financial waiver! Most schools REQUIRE a copy of your ACT/SAT/PSAT scores before allowing you to make an official visit.
:: PLAY HARD… As a sophomore, you are too young to contact but coaches may begin doing their homework on you if you are a top player in the area. It is still very early in the process, but some college staffs work ahead by beginning their research on recruiting classes a couple years in advance. Coaches may call around to find out more about your talent level, how you compete vs. local players and if there are red flags concerning your character or academic standing as early as your sophomore year.
Nearly every school in nearly every sport relies on regional or national scouting services. Universities pay an annual fee for reports from established scouts, especially for information on top freshmen and sophomores. Each service normally provides contact info and a short 10-word-or-less description of the athletes’ style of play, and ranks them with a letter or category grade (Division I, II, III, NAIA). These reports are scanned for sizes, speeds, stats and notes from observations. Be aware that there are eyes everywhere—not just the college coaches themselves! (LOW/MID/HIGH LEVEL PLAYERS)
Coaches will begin noting top underclassmen to add to the database for future recruitment as they attend practices or tournaments. Be aware that they are watching and making notes, even if they aren’t able to contact you. (HIGH/MID/LOW LEVEL players)
Coaches will begin screening highlight video, stats, regional all-star teams and rankings for top regional players and may add underclassmen names to their watch lists for future recruitment. (HIGH INTEREST)
:: INVITE YOU TO CAMPUS… If you are an elite player in the area, coaches may be inviting your team to their summer camps or sports clinics as a sophomore. If financially possible, attend those at the universities you are interested in! Camps can be a very important step in the process for both the prospect and the coaching staff. (HIGH LEVEL)
As a prospect, they are able to offer you complimentary admission (via a pass list at the gate) for you and up to two guests. (MEDIUM/HIGH INTEREST)
SOPHOMORE YEAR, GET AHEAD BY…
:: ATTEND SUMMER CAMPS OR CLINICS… at the schools that you are interested in and combines managed by third-parties (AAU, Nike, etc). Any regional or national tournaments or exposure events you can attend will be helpful. By attending as a younger player you can get over the anxiousness and uncertainty of the drills and be more polished as an upperclassman.
:: BEING ACADEMICALLY ON TRACK… Sit down with your guidance counselor to make sure your course load is in line with NCAA (Division I and II standards) and university requirements. If you are aiming to attend an academically prestigious university, see what their typical freshman academic profile is. Yes, some schools are able to make exceptions in admissions for student-athletes, but many have a limited number of spots for the entire athletic department to use. Many universities do not have much wiggle room academically between the general student population and student-athletes. Be prepared!