Could you imagine playing Division I basketball without playing at the varsity level?
But last week, Jimmy Gavin, who was unable to play at the top of his game in high school because of Crohn’s disease, committed to play at Division I Winthrop University.
“After two all-conference seasons in a row at UW-Parkside, the graduating Gavin faced a difficult decision with one year of college eligibility remaining. Would he leave behind a successful UW-Parkside program that gave him his shot at playing time? Or ascend to Division I immediately as a graduate transfer and do everything possible to play basketball at the highest level?”
You should really check out the full piece about Jimmy — it’s a great story, and, after all, Coach Chmiel told you that he wants to see athletes reading this summer. But don’t worry; I’ve broken down the important lessons Jimmy’s story teaches about how to transfer to Division I basketball for you below.
Find help in your recruiting.
No one’s recruiting happens in a vacuum. Throughout the article on Jimmy, you can see references to his friends, family, coaches and more people who were willing and able to come to his aid. Do you know who your support network is, and what you can lean on them for?
In this digital age, your network doesn’t have to be — and really shouldn’t be — limited just to your local friends and connections. Not when there are so many opportunities for you to get your information online and lean on national scouts to help you with your personal recruiting journey.
Work your butt off.
Despite the tragedies and setbacks he had to experience, Jimmy never backed down. Even after he learned how to live with Crohn’s, he had a long way to go — and went for it.
“I remember when [Jimmy] came down he jokingly said, ‘Hey, I can dunk now.’ And I said, ‘No you can’t, no you can’t, no you can’t.’ And he goes up and just hammers one,” John Camardella, a former Division III player who coached Jimmy at Illinois Wesleyan, told NBC Sports. “That’s the number one thing that just blows me away. The speed, the strength, the athleticism out of a kid that, back in high school, couldn’t get up and down the court three times without looking winded. And now you’ve got a kid who is able to windmill dunk.”
Know the rules.
This isn’t as nearly as fun to talk about as the other points, but it’s important. Even with support and a great attitude, you could still get tripped up by transfer rules set by the NCAA. A transfer to Division I typically requires some special paperwork:
- You’ll need a written letter from your current athletic director or compliance officer.
- If you signed a letter of intent, you’ll need to request a release.
- You can write to any NCAA college coach, but won’t receive a response until that coach has received permission to contact you.
- Your current school can deny you permission to transfer or be released. Sometimes this is because of intra-conference rules, which vary.
As well, how you handle your transfer will depend on where you’re starting; you don’t need to get permission from anyone at a junior college, but at Division III schools, athletes still need to complete a self-release. And there are exceptions, especially if you’re transferring to a Division I school for football, men’s basketball, ice hockey or baseball.
Our scouts are trained to help you understand your specific situation so you can play your sport at the level that’s best for you.