Challenges and Rewards of Playing College Basketball in the US
Playing college basketball in the US is becoming a more commonly chosen pathway among young Australian athletes. In all the movies, college ball seems like the ultimate dream, but is it the right dream for you?
Besides weighing the pros and cons of each division and wondering where you fit into all of it, there are still many questions that need to be answered to decide whether college ball is the right future for you. One of the best things college basketball has to offer is that you will learn beyond the classroom or the court. Living overseas as a young adult, especially if it is your first time out of your home, can be difficult but it can also be extremely rewarding.
Playing College Basketball In the States: How It’s Like Out There
Queensland player, Sammi Deakin-Sharpe, is currently at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana at an NCAA Div 1 school. We got in touch with Sammi to find out what the most challenging and rewarding part is of being as an Aussie tearing it up in the States.
“The most challenging part is definitely the workload and managing your time. The trainings are the hardest and most intense workouts I’ve ever experienced, after most sessions you feel like going straight to bed! On top of this, you also have to lift weights and do conditioning, as well as attending class and going to study hall. In your spare time, you’re expected to shoot and do extra work on your own or with a position coach. There have been a lot of days where it’s hard to find the motivation to even get out of bed, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”
“I think the best part is the fact that I’m living my dream, playing the sport I love in another country. One of the most rewarding things is seeing how much my game has improved in such a short period of time. I used Custom College Recruiting by the way, to help get me over here and they were fantastic!”
US College Basketball Levels
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
The great thing about college basketball is that there are a multitude of levels that will provide a beneficial experience for anyone. NCAA Division 1 is probably the most heard about division and the goal many serious players. This is because it is the most publicised and televised division and for a good reason too! NCAA Div 1 is the most challenging, both academically and athletically, which makes it a very competitive div to get into.
Many Australian basketballers find themselves in NCAA Division 2 and Div 3. Div 2 is very similar to Div 1. This division provides a tough athletic competition as well as a focus on the academics. Most div 2 schools are, structurally, very similar to that of Div 1, however, are usually smaller. Div 3, on the other hand, is the largest division in terms of schools and athletes. Unlike the other two division, div 3 focuses mainly on academics with athletics fitting into the academic schedule. They also do not allow for athletic scholarships.
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)
NAIA is another popular level for international students. With an athletic level similar to NCAA division 2, this level provides many opportunities for athletes to excel.
National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)
Unless you know you want to go to an American college from a young age, it can be easy to become ineligible academically. American colleges require you to have done certain subjects in high school and maintain a certain GPA to be eligible. This is where NJCAA aka a Junior College can be a great option! Junior Colleges are only 2-year colleges with the focus on developing students academically and athletically to be eligible for other divisions. Like all other colleges, Junior colleges are attended after high school, they are simply just an alternate route on your road to success.
College basketball is a serious business, it has strict schedules and is hard work. It is well supported and resourced by the educational institution in terms of support staff, facilities and through athletic scholarships. The coaches’ livelihood often depends on the success of the team. The expectations and demands placed on athletes can be challenging, so finding the right level is important. Custom College Recruiting can help with this!
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