Getting an athletic scholarship is a dream for a lot of my athletes and a lot of parents for that matter tuition being as high as it is. A friend of mine, Rod Hutcherson, has a son who plays basketball in college and was kind enough to provide some insight to the process.
Don’t think that if your son/daughter isn’t a blue chip stud, he/she will not get noticed. You can get that scholarship and my interview with Rod will hopefully shed some light on the topic.
AK: Tell us a little bit about your son. Name, where he went to high school, position, height, college, etc.?
RH: RJ Hutcherson, Westerville North, 6’ 6” in HS played F/C, Fairmont State University in West Virginia and plays a stretch 4. Now he is 6’ 8”.
AK: Was it always the plan for R.J. to try and acquire a scholarship for basketball and if so, what age was that determined?
RH: His sophomore year he decided that he wanted to play college ball. At what level they didn’t know cause he was still growing. He wanted to play D1 and his mom Mindy (an OSU basketball player and Rod played at Ohio Christian College) told him that was a big jump. He wasn’t getting many looks his junior year and he was nervous.
AK: Let’s take a look at his basketball playing from 8th grade up to the end of his junior year (the high school season). What was his basketball schedule like, what did he participate in (camps, AAU, etc.)?
RH: He’s done AAU since fifth grade. He’s done camps for shooting, big man camps, and some of the high school camps. But mostly camps for skill development.
AK: Looking back on his hectic basketball life, do you feel all that was absolutely necessary or would you cut some things out if you had to do it all over again?
RH: I would have had him do more on the skill level camps rather than school camps. I’d also want to work on him strengthening his body more. We got a late start to that.
AK: Were there any camps/clinics you would choose to go to (outside of team camps) for the sole purpose of getting college exposure? How did you hear about those?
RH: The OSU camp was an exposure thing. We knew some people there and they had suggested to us to send him there to get some exposure. Probably a few others for exposure, but I knew nothing was going to happen for him at that age because he was still like a young puppy. Really, we were still trying to develop him as an athlete rather than seeing who was looking at him.
AK: Talk about his high school career prior to his senior year. Most people assume that if you have a chance to get a college scholarship you have to be playing stellar (averaging 20 a game) your sophomore year, your junior year. But that wasn’t necessarily the case for R.J. was it?
RH: He had a coach that believed seniors should play. There was only one kid in our school that actually played as a freshman on up and that was Jack Gibbs (current Davidson player and also one of our old clients). RJ basically had to wait until his junior year to get any varsity time. He didn’t get to play that much and he probably should have been playing more. So he really wasn’t getting seen yet. He was getting seen more in AAU ball.
AK: How big of a role did AAU basketball play in his development and potential for getting a college scholarship?
RH: Huge role. When he started playing AAU, he got special invites to different colleges for open runs. He first was spotted in Chicago at an AAU tourney his senior year. He had a good weekend in Chicago. The coaches at Fairmont State passed my wife walking up the steps. The coach told his assistant to follow her and see which kid was hers. (Mindy is pretty tall). They watched him the whole weekend plus a few other colleges. Then Fairmont invited him to an open run at their place.
AK: Before the summer of his senior year, as parents did you still think a college scholarship was in his future? What was your mindset going into that summer?
RH: It was scary because he wasn’t getting any contacts. He started doing open runs at The Hoop that were geared towards college hopefuls. Fairmont was there, he was playing well, and they gave him an invite to play for an open run. He visited and they offered him a scholarship right then and there. He didn’t accept right away and they continue to try and pressure you to commit.
AK: Did you have a specific gameplan for the summer to try and get him exposure in hopes of getting college interest?
RH: Our plan was to at least get a d2 and hopefully a d1 scholarship. He switched AAU teams to one that was playing more frequently for the exposure. He got invited to those summer open runs through Victor Doddridge.
AK: So what happened? How did he get the scholarship offer, where is he going to college, and when did he accept?
RH: He did not immediately accept the offer from Fairmont when they invited him to their open run. When you get offered a scholarship from a d1 or d2 school, then they all come out of the woodwork and start offering you scholarships. Once he got offered from Fairmont, by the time we drove back home he had received 7 offers from other schools. That’s no lie. All the d2’s that are in his league currently. Then the d1’s started offering. Toledo was at his school on Monday. But, he had fallen in love with Fairmont. He waited about two months, got stressed out by the other offers, and decided to stick with Fairmont. He only visited one other school.
AK: For R.J. was it a relief to get it? What were his feelings and how did it affect his play his senior season?
RH: He was so relieved when he got it over. Fairmont was constantly over at our house talking with us trying to get us to commit. So he committed before the senior year season started. He had a great year that year.
AK: So looking back on his high school career and knowing the whole process a little bit better, would you do anything differently to maybe get more exposure to higher profile colleges? Or would you do everything the exact same?
RH: I would have done more visits with him so he could have seen different colleges. I also would have gone to a couple d1 schools for visits as well.
AK: What advice would you give to parents of 8th graders or freshman basketball players of aspirations of getting a college scholarship? What are the one or two most important things they have to do to give them the best chance possible for a scholarship?
RH: Have your kid physically ready. The physical part is a major part, getting stronger. Not burning them out.
Photo courtesy of Phil Roeder on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder/