Behind the scenes of basketball recruitment


As basketball season comes to a close, the head basketball coaches are looking for new players to fill the empty spots on the teams. Matt Grahn, head men’s basketball coach, and Bri Calver, head women’s basketball coach, gave a behind the scenes peek at the recruitment process.

The recruitment process for future Crusaders begins in the junior year of high school, as the coaches begin taking notice of potential candidates. After screening the prospects for their statistics, the coaches will get in contact with the players and their family. Both coaches are focused on building relationships as well providing an insight to UD’s personal touch and intimacy to prospective student athletes.

Grahn said, “Recruiting is all about building relationships. The earlier we can start that process, the better. I really want to know the guys we are recruiting and in turn want those guys and their families to know all about me, our assistants, our returning guys, our program, and UD in general.” 

“I call our process the 4-3-2-1 plan. Based on research evidence over the past 20 years from a trusted expert in college athletics recruiting, Dan Tudor, I devised the plan according to how recruits want to be contacted and through which channels,” Grahn continued. “Each month they will receive 4 emails (1 per week), 3 text messages, 2 pieces of good ol’ fashioned postal mail, and 1 phone call. Each month has a theme and all of our communication revolves around that theme. It tells a story.”

This recruitment process is one of the most efficient and direct, allowing the maximum number of recruits to be contacted and ultimately committed to UD. 

Once the prospective players have been contacted, they often come to visit campus for a tour of both the academic and athletic facilities. These tours are led by either the coaches or even some of the current players themselves for a personal touch. 

Calver said, “I think our visits that we have within our program are just a lot more laid-back, at least we’ve been told that by other recruits and parents that have visited. We’re not so much on a schedule, and we don’t make them just go.” 

“[During the tours], we have dialogue, we let them ask questions. I mean, we’ll even talk about things that have nothing to do with basketball,” Calver added. “I saw a recruit the other night and we were talking about her going prom dress shopping. It’s important to know that it’s more than just basketball.” 

High character translates into a high GPA which is a must-have at UD. The coaches want people that will be a good fit for the academic program and the team. 

Calver said, “We will not recruit someone if they have anything below a 3.7 GPA and that is pushing it. Typically if it’s less than a 4.0, I question it just because UD is so challenging and we need to make sure that they are academically fit and are going to be able to make it through freshman year.” 

“I look for guys with high character and vocal communicators. I want guys on our team that I can have fun with, enjoy being around, and can share a laugh with,” Grahn shared. 

Standout recruits need to not only be able to play the sport but they also need a good attitude towards the coach and teammates. 

Grahn said, “It goes back to what kind of character does that guy demonstrate both on and off the floor. Is he coachable? Does he stay engaged on the bench? Is he a good teammate?” 

The coaches’ advice for anyone attempting to play collegiate basketball is to ensure that they actually apply to the school. Completing the application and FAFSA gives everyone a more realistic idea of what the next steps are and if playing for the school is even feasible. 

“The biggest thing is being proactive with applying,” Calver said.“If you find a school you think you could be interested in and you want to play basketball, reach out, put yourself out there.” 

Grahn added, “Work through your high school coach. When I get contacted by a high school coach, especially one that I know and trust, it adds credibility. If a high school player does reach out to me, I will consider that guy more if he leads with his height, weight, position, GPA, test scores, and has video.”

For the upcoming season, Grahn and Calver are looking to, of course, keep up the program and add some new members to the teams. For the men’s basketball team, Grahn emphasized recruiting people with true athleticism and good shot makers. The women’s basketball team is looking to add some more height to their ranks. 

When being recruited and when doing recruiting, comfort is the most important aspect for everyone involved. Grahn stressed the importance of choosing a school that feels like a good fit and is where you are wanted. After all, one’s college and team will be their community and family for the next four years.

 Grahn said, “Go where you feel at home.”


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