Statistics show that only about 3.5 percent of high school basketball players move on to play at NCAA universities. While overcoming the odds may seem daunting, there are ways for serious athletes to vastly improve their chances of getting noticed by basketball recruiters. It starts with thinking beyond the regular season. Basketball camps are simply a must for anyone with dreams of playing at the collegiate level. The off-season options generally fall into one of two categories: basketball training camps and basketball showcases.
At a typical skills camp, anywhere from a dozen to over a hundred attendees train with coaches and possibly some current or former professional players. Basketball camps are usually day-long affairs broken into different sessions that may focus on anything from specific drills to competitive games to informative lectures. Attendees could also get some one-on-one time with instructors and personal feedback. Depending on the type of basketball camp, players could stay overnight or commute during the day. There are also programs that specifically cater to certain age groups, skill levels and boys or girls.
Basketball showcases differ from traditional basketball camps in that they’re designed for older, more advanced players to gain exposure from recruiters. In some cases, such as with the LeBron James youth basketball camp, these showcases require invitations and are essentially tournaments featuring the top high school seniors, juniors and (occasionally) sophomores. However, most basketball exposure camps also feature drills in addition to competitions. These give coaches and scouts the opportunity to see the talent in action.
Depending on the size and prestige of the basketball camp, fees could range from $100 to over $1,000 for a few days of training. Factors such as boarding, elite instructors and quality facilities may also up the final cost. While the price of attending multiple basketball camps can really add up, it’s an investment into achieving a college scholarship, which could lead to endless future opportunities.
There are thousands of basketball training camps offered in America every year. However, some programs stand out for featuring esteemed hosts or proven training methods. The following are some of the most notable youth basketball camps in the country.
US Sports Camps/Nike Basketball Camps: Nike leads the way in youth basketball camps mainly because it’s associated with so many different types of programs. Since there are more than 200 Nike basketball camp locations spread across 40 states, chances are that you’ll find an option near your home. Most are held at local high schools and colleges; however, there are also multiple national Nike exposure basketball camps designed to showcase potential college talent.
King’s Academy LeBron James Basketball Camps: Star power has a way of providing inspiration, and this is especially true at the semi-annual LeBron James basketball camps. Considering the host has won multiple MVPs and NBA championships, it’s no surprise that space is extremely limited at King’s Academy. Originally, the LeBron James Nike basketball camp accepted more than 500 boys and girls between the ages 7 and 17. King James himself would oversee drills, give speeches and even participate in scrimmages. However, the LeBron James youth basketball camp is now an invite-only showcase for 80 of the nation’s top high school players. The name recognition with the LeBron James Nike basketball camp leads to some major exposure.
PGC Basketball Camps: PGC Basketball offers camps across the country for middle school through college athletes. At PGC camps, athletes first learn habits or skills in the classroom, watch film of pro players performing those skills and then apply what they’ve learned in game situations on the court. Over 105,000 players and 7,500 coaches have attended a PGC camp in the past 28 years.
MBSC Adidas Basketball Camps: As six-day programs for ages 8 through 18, these Adidas basketball camps provide an extended training experience. In fact, every Adidas basketball camp is designed to cover every aspect of the game along with some fun off-court activities. You can find Adidas basketball camp locations in Boston, Atlanta and Orlando.
Coach K’s Duke Basketball Camps: If you’re looking for a basketball camp held at a college campus, they don’t come any bigger than this. One of the reasons for Duke’s continued success is coach Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in college basketball history. Even if you’re not a prospect for the Blue Devils, you’ll learn a lot from coach K’s summer basketball camps. They run in three sessions every June at the campus in Durham, NC.
Five-Star Basketball Academy: While many of the elite programs tend to be high school basketball camps, Five-Star focuses on rising 5th- to 8th-grade boys. Attendees go through 12 progressive teaching stations as well as an additional session of individualized instruction. For middle school-age players planning already planning ahead, these are ideal basketball day camps. You’ll find Five-Star Basketball Academy camps in several east coast cities.
Legarza Basketball Camps: Developing players in the San Francisco Bay Area are in luck because they are close to several Legarza basketball camp locations. Legarza programs, which are offered at various Bay Area schools during spring and summer, have worked with over 200,000 kids. The program also offers youth basketball leagues for elementary- and middle school-age players.
Interscholastic basketball seasons usually run through the fall and winter. To accommodate these players, the best high school basketball camps are held in the spring and summer. Most of the elite programs, whether it’s an Adidas or Michael Jordan basketball camp, are held over a four- to six-day period.
It’s important to remember that summer is also a crucial time for basketball recruiting. After all, college coaches don’t have time to watch many high school games when their own seasons could be running until March. July is the biggest month for men’s basketball recruits because it makes up the bulk of the NCAA evaluation period. During this time, coaches can watch the players in person, but they can’t speak to them off campus. Women’s NCAA basketball has a far more liberal evaluation period that also extends into spring, fall and winter months.
That being said, there are also many excellent basketball training camps during winter months. For example, Nike basketball offers many winter camps meant to capitalize on the holiday break from school. A winter basketball camp is often ideal for those not old enough to compete in an interscholastic league.
Athletes should consider attending both day and overnight basketball camps. Depending on the program, one or both may be offered. Overnight basketball camps present a great way to meet like-minded friends and get primed for the college lifestyle. On the other hand, day basketball camps are often more convenient for local attendees. Prices are also considerably lower for basketball day camps.
Most youth basketball camps also divide their sessions based on age and skill level. For example, Adidas MBSC has sessions for all ages 8-18 as well as an elite camp just for high school students. Within each skill group, there are options for both overnight and basketball day camps.
The reasons for separating players by skill and age level are many. In order to improve, it’s important to be properly challenged and build on the right fundamentals. Elementary school players just getting their feet wet may do better in day basketball camps with fellow youngsters. However, high schoolers who are focused on the sport could learn a lot more by attending multiple overnight basketball camps.
Some basketball camps are great at serving all ages and genders. For example, the GBA Michael Jordan basketball camp is co-ed and accepts 40-plus attendees from various age groups. However, much of the draw of such camps is for young kids to fulfill the dream of meeting and playing with a superstar. Furthermore, co-ed basketball camps for ages 12 and under often work well because younger boys and girls have similar playing styles.
However, style of play and basketball recruiting needs diverge as kids enter high school. That’s why most of the best basketball summer camps specialize in either boys or girls play. For boys basketball camps, the game tends to involve more battles at the rim as players hit their growth spurts. Boys basketball also uses a slightly bigger ball that should be used for all practices.
Girls basketball camps can be just as physical; however, more scoring tends to come from mid-range perimeter shots. There are many girls basketball camps that specifically focus on this style of play and feature instructors who understand the nuances. For example, one of the best basketball summer camps for girls is the Sarah Behn Camp, which is based in Massachusetts. Behn, a former standout as a college player and coach, runs several girl’s basketball camps.
Some players have specific weaknesses or bad habits they want to address. In such situations, targeted training could actually be more helpful than continuous gameplay. That’s why many competitors use the off-season to attend clinics. While similar to a traditional drill-based basketball camp, clinics allow a player to get one-on-one training and evaluations from an instructor. A clinic could focus on anything from rebounding and strength training to ball handling and 3-point shooting.
Most college basketball recruits know they have a future at a certain position by the time they reach junior year in high school. It only makes sense that these players focus on the skills unique to their positions. Perhaps the most famous position-based basketball camp is Point Guard College (PGC), which has 25 locations across the country. By focusing on skills such as ball handling, creating shots and coaching the floor, this high school basketball camp is ideal for players running the point. PGC Basketball is also notable because half of each camp is spent watching footage and studying techniques in a class-like setting.
In addition, PGC offers a basketball camp that caters to more aggressive players looking to take their talents to the next level. Called the Playmaker College, this elite program concentrates on how to win in pressure situations, beat double-teams and control defenders. The focus on combining mental and physical toughness make this one of the best high school basketball camps.
Part of the process of getting a basketball scholarship involves being seen. This means any player with dreams of playing in college should participate in some kind of basketball showcase that’s attended by coaches and scouts. It may also be wise to sign up for a combine. This is an event that features a series of tests that evaluate players’ athleticism.
Due to the strict NCAA rules on coach visitation, summer is big for showcases. Hence, most of these tournaments culminate in July. Here are the biggest basketball showcases in the nation:
With so many basketball camps out there, finding the right program may be complicated. It takes a little more effort than just searching “youth basketball camps near me” in your internet browser. Unfortunately, some programs are more about making money than helping young athletes. That’s why serious players should do some research and ask around about summer camps.
It’s a good idea to talk with local coaches and other players, especially upperclassmen and those who are also serious about playing college ball. If possible, see if school personnel can put you in touch with graduated players who have actually made it to the college level. Ask about which camps are best for skill building as well as which showcases attract scouts. It’s also wise to research the instructors and professionals associated with a particular camp. While the high school camps in the big cities may seem more exciting, don’t overlook smaller programs at local gyms and schools.
Most of the top showcases, including the Nike exposure basketball camps, require an invitation to attended. Basketball recruiters and tournament organizers seek the top high school talent. Therefore, it’s important for college-bound players to know how to get invited to basketball camps. It may seem obvious, but the first step is to work on your game and excel at the high school level. When the season’s over, join AAU teams known for having top players and competing in big tournaments.
You’d be surprised how the word can spread among scouts when real drive is observed. However, it’s usually necessary to attend non-elite camps before the bigger invites start to come in. Even if the D-1 program you’re after won’t be there, the recruiters who are present will talk to each other. Eventually, the top players will receive rankings based on coach evaluations.
Getting invites and finding the right camps is only part of the struggle. Once you make it to college elite basketball camps, you have to find ways to stand out. This means always playing like someone is watching you. It’s intimidating to think about, but recruiters may even be observing you during breaks in play.
You never know what a college program’s needs may be. Coaches could be looking for players with a certain size, court presence or style of play. In addition, recruiters will pay close attention to personality and attitude. They want players who will mesh well with their basketball culture. This means you can score additional points by being a good teammate and clean competitor.
There are only about 20,000 college basketball scholarships available each year for men and women (about 10,000 for each). This is a very small number considering how many student-athletes who want to play at the collegiate level. If you have dreams of earning a basketball scholarship, it’s important to take every step to get noticed by recruiters. Next College Student Athlete helps with the process by connecting coaches and players through the world’s largest collegiate recruiting network.
By joining NCSA, you can get your name and skills presented to thousands of coaches. It’s no accident that more than 90 percent of U.S. colleges with athletic programs have at least one NCSA athlete on their rosters. The athletic recruiting network has garnered positive reviews from media outlets and coaches as well as partnerships with programs such as US Sports Camps and USA Today High School Sports.
The numbers don’t lie. Since starting in 2000, NCSA has reported 100,000 commits as reported by student athletes college teams. This has led to a Google Reviews score of 4.9 out of 5 based on more than 1,700 reviews. In the past year, roughly 24,000 NCSA athletes committed to a college sports program.
It all starts with creating a free online recruiting profile. By combining a unique interface with a network of over 35,000 coaches, NCSA can help you gain exposure. Join today or call (866)495-5172 with any questions.