Bucket 1: Fit
Fit is if your position and profile matches the criteria of the school’s current recruiting class. Do you fit what the coach’s needs are? For example, if a baseball team is not looking for a catcher in the upcoming recruiting class, and you’re a catcher, then you are not going to be a fit for them.
Bucket 2: Grades
Have you ever filled out a form to sign up for a camp or a showcase? Ever notice what you have to include? Not just your height and weight, but your GPA, test scores, and sometimes even your entire transcript. Coaches absolutely cannot recruit you if your grades don’t match their admissions standards.
What about exceptions? Yes, there are exceptions. Some schools have more “wiggle room” than others. However, do you want to bank on being an exception, or get the best grades possible and open more doors?
Bucket 3: Ability
Coaches will evaluate if your skill set fits at their level, and if they feel you have room to improve. The piece you have to keep in mind about this bucket is that you can only control your game and skill set. You cannot control how other players perform. Your game could fit at a certain level, but it might not fit at a certain school.
Bucket 4: Character
You could be a great student, great athlete, and a great fit, but your character is ultimately the deciding factor. When all else is equal, character is the trump card. Does your personality fit the personality of the team? It’s the rarest of occasions that a school can’t find another player just like you. Coaches would much rather go with the character guy than the player with a slight edge in the skill department, but will be a cancer in the locker room.
So which one is the most important? What is the magic formula?
The buckets remain the same no matter the sport or recruit. The hierarchy of importance and weight of each bucket is different for each school and recruit. The balance between the buckets depends on what the school recruiting you truly values. Can they sacrifice grades to get a better player? Would they take the character kid over the stud with some behavioral issues? Do you not fit their position needs, but they think they can convert you to a new position?
It’s incredibly important to realize there are no absolutes in recruiting. There is no magic formula. It is a case-by-case, fluid, unpredictable process. A perfectly inexact science. Coaches will evaluate you using these four buckets, but their priorities will differ. The bottom line is you can only control what you can control. Play your game, get your grades, be a good citizen and teammate.