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NCAA Women’s Basketball Recruiting Guidelines: Get College Coaches to Notice You

What skills are needed to play basketball in college? And how can you get college coaches to notice you? Whether an athlete is a perimeter player or post player, this section lays out the different requirements needed to compete at the college level, from NCAA Division 1 to JUCO programs. Knowing your best athletic fit is key to creating a realistic list of target schools.

What do women’s college basketball coaches look for in recruits?

When determining a recruit’s athletic ability, college coaches consider a variety of factors. Most notably:

  • Height and frame: Physical characteristics, like height and body frame, athleticism and strength can be a driving factor for some coaches.
  • Technical ability. Coaches don’t want to bring on athletes who need to be taught the fundamentals—technical ability is essential. Can the recruit protect the ball, or shoot with the right footwork and release point?
  • Basketball IQ. Basketball IQ means having situational awareness of the game and the ability to make the right decisions in real-time. For example, if the clock is winding down and the game is tied, does the player know to hold onto the ball until the last shot, instead of forcing a shot early? This is where position-specific skills come into play as well. Can perimeter players successfully drive the game and control the pace? Do post players read the right defensive rotations? It also means being aware of how many time outs and fouls both teams have throughout the game.
  • Academics. Lastly, there are aspects outside of athletics that can truly set recruits apart. Academics, especially at the Division 3 level, are extremely important to college coaches. High grades and test scores speak to an athlete’s discipline, leadership ability and even time management skills. 

Of course, what coaches look for also depends on their program’s specific needs. Some schools might invest more in developing a tall, athletic post player, while others value a smaller player who has raw talent, polished skills, and strong instincts. In many cases, college coaches will turn to JUCO teams to find transfers who are stronger and more developed compared to high school student-athletes.  

Establishing relationships with college coaches is the best way to fully understand their recruiting needs. But another quick way is to visit a team’s roster. Look at which athletes are graduating and study the team’s athletic history to see which positions coaches are recruiting and what key stats they look for. 

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What skills are needed to get on a women’s college basketball team?

When compiling their lists of top recruits, college coaches evaluate three factors: physical ability, fundamentals and basketball IQ. They seek out players who are conditioned, technically sound, can read the game and have strong instincts. They also want to coach athletes who have the potential to improve. That’s why playing nationally and against other high-level recruits is a popular way to gain exposure. Here is a quick overview of the type of players each division recruits:

D1 women’s basketball skills: These recruits are ranked nationally and are included in top lists, such as ESPN’S HoopGurlz Top 60. They have elite ball handling and defensive skills and are the best player on their high school and club team. They are the top recruits across the country. They’re awarded top accolades, including All-State honors, start on varsity all four years, and compete nationally through their AAU team. These coaches typically make verbal offers to prospects before their junior year. 

D2 women’s basketball skills: These players have mastered the fundamentals and are considered one of the top players on their high school and club team. They have control on the court and will continue to develop under a collegiate training program. They’ve received awards like All-Region, All-District, and All-Conference and play on a highly-competitive AAU team. Top NCAA Division 2 programs make verbal offers to these athletes at the beginning of their junior year and continue to make offers into senior year as well.

D3 women’s basketball skills: These players have some club and varsity experience, earning them accolades such as All-Area and All-Conference. They have the fundamentals nailed down and may need to continue to work on other parts of their game, whether it’s rebounding or defense. A bulk of these recruits will receive offers after the summer of their junior year and into senior year.

NAIA women’s basketball skills: Top basketball recruits look similar to Division 2 athletes, while other NAIA programs better reflect Division 3 competition. These prospects have varsity experience, played with a high-level club and earned awards, such as All-Area and All-Conference. They’ll continue to get stronger and improve their technical ability under a collegiate training program. Coaches typically make offers during junior year and into senior year as well.

JUCO women’s basketball skills: JUCO basketball prospects aim to fine-tune their skills before transferring to a four-year institution. They are utility players who benefit from competing in a post-high-school setting. This level is a great opportunity for athletes to focus on core fundamentals before going on to play at the highest level. 

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Average women’s basketball player height by position and level

Average women's basketball player height

  Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
Position D1 and top D2 D2, top D3 and NAIA D3 and NAIA JC
PG 5’8”+ 5’6”+ 5’5”+ 5’5”+
SG 5’10”+ 5’8”+ 5’8”+ 5’8”+
SF 5’11”+ 5’10”+ 5’8”+ 5’8”+
PF 6’0”+ 5’11”+ 5’9”+ 5’9”+
C 6’2”+ 6’0”+ 5’11”+ 5’11”+

Average women’s basketball player height by position

  • Average point guard height: 5’6”
  • Average shooting guard height: 5’8”
  • Average small forward height: 5’9”
  • Average power forward height: 5’10”
  • Average center height: 6’0”

In NCAA Division 1 women’s basketball, the average basketball player height is 5’6”.

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Women’s basketball point guard recruiting guidelines 

Top D1 and top JC 

  • Height: 5’8”+
  • Club experience: Plays at the highest level in AAU, competing two years at the elite national level, such as the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League or adidas Gauntlet. Ranks nationally on lists such as ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60. High profile player who is usually recruited through AAU as an underclassman.
  • High school experience: Varsity starter all four years of high school. Earned several top accolades, such as All-State, All-Region, and All-Area honors. Best player on the team.

Low D1, top D2 and top NAIA

  • Height: 5’6”+
  • Club experience: Three to four years of AAU experience, playing on high-level teams that compete nationally. Three years of summer club experience, gaining coach exposure at tournaments.
  • High school experience: Three to four years as a varsity starter, earning awards such as All-State, All-Conference and All-Region. One of the top athletes on the team.  

Low D3 and low NAIA 

  • Height: 5’5”+
  • Club experience: Two years of summer club experience, competing locally and state-wide.
  • High school experience: Varsity starter as an upperclassman, possibly earning some accolades such as All-Area, All-District or All-Conference. 

Low D3 and low JC 

  • Height: 5’5”+
  • Club experience: Some AAU experience playing locally, although it is not necessary.
  • High school experience: One to two years of varsity experience.

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Women’s basketball power forward recruiting guidelines 

Top D1 and top JC

  • Height: 6’0”+
  • Club experience: Plays at the highest level in AAU, competing two years at the elite national level, such as the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League or adidas Gauntlet. Ranks nationally on lists such as ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60. High profile player who is usually recruited through AAU as an underclassman.
  • High school experience: Varsity starter all four years of high school. Earned several top accolades, such as All-State, All-Region, and All-Area honors. Best player on the team.

Low D1, top D2 and top NAIA

  • Height: 5’11”+
  • Club experience: Three to four years of AAU experience, playing on high-level teams that compete nationally. Three years of summer club experience, gaining coach exposure at tournaments.
  • High school experience: Three to four years as a varsity starter, earning awards such as All-State, All-Conference and All-Region. One of the top athletes on the team.  

Low D3 and low NAIA 

  • Height: 5’9”+
  • Club experience: Two years of summer club experience, competing locally and state-wide.
  • High school experience: Varsity starter as an upperclassman, possibly earning some accolades such as All-Area/All-District, or All-Conference.  

Low D3 and low JC 

  • Height: 5’9”+
  • Club experience: Some AAU experience playing locally, although it is not necessary.
  • High school experience: One to two years of varsity experience. 

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Women’s basketball center recruiting guidelines

Top D1 and top JC 

  • Height: 6’2”+
  • Club experience: Plays at the highest level in AAU, competing two years at the elite national level, such as the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League or adidas Gauntlet. Ranks nationally on lists such as ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60. High profile player who is usually recruited through AAU as an underclassman.
  • High school experience: Varsity starter all four years of high school. Earned several top accolades, such as All-State, All-Region, and All-Area honors. Best player on the team.

Low D1, top D2 and top NAIA

  • Height: 6’0”+
  • Club experience: Three to four years of AAU experience, playing on high-level teams that compete nationally. Three years of summer club experience, gaining coach exposure at tournaments.
  • High school experience: Three to four years as a varsity starter, earning awards such as All-State, All-Conference and All-Region. One of the top athletes on the team.  

Low D3 and low NAIA

  • Height: 5’11”+
  • Club experience: Two years of summer club experience, competing locally and state-wide.
  • High school experience: Varsity starter as an upperclassman, possibly earning some accolades such as All-Area, All-District or All-Conference. 

Low D3 and low JC

  • Height: 5’11”
  • Club experience: Some AAU experience playing locally, although it is not necessary.
  • High school experience: One to two years of varsity experience.

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Women’s basketball shooting guard recruiting guidelines 

Top D1 and top JC 

  • Height: 5’10”+
  • Club experience: Plays at the highest level in AAU, competing two years at the elite national level, such as the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League or adidas Gauntlet. Ranks nationally on lists such as ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60. High profile player who is usually recruited through AAU as an underclassman.
  • High school experience: Varsity starter all four years of high school. Earned several top accolades, such as All-State, All-Region and All-Area honors. Best player on the team.

Low D1, top D2 and top NAIA

  • Height: 5’8”+
  • Club experience: Three to four years of AAU experience, playing on high-level teams that compete nationally. Three years of summer club experience, gaining coach exposure at tournaments.
  • High school experience: Three to four years as a varsity starter, earning awards such as All-State, All-Conference and All-Region. One of the top athletes on the team.  

Low D3 and low NAIA

  • Height: 5’8”+
  • Club experience: Two years of summer club experience, competing locally and state-wide.
  • High school experience: Varsity starter as an upperclassman, possibly earning some accolades such as All-Area, All-District or All-Conference. 

Low D3 and low JC 

  • Height: 5’8”+
  • Club experience: Some AAU experience playing locally, although it is not necessary.
  • High school experience: One to two years of varsity experience.

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Women’s basketball small forward recruiting guidelines

Top D1 and top JC

  • Height: 5’11”+
  • Club experience: Plays at the highest level in AAU, competing two years at the elite national level, such as the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League or adidas Gauntlet. Ranks nationally on lists such as ESPN HoopGurlz Super 60. High profile player who is usually recruited through AAU as an underclassman.
  • High school experience: Varsity starter all four years of high school. Earned several top accolades, such as All-State, All-Region and All-Area honors. Best player on the team.

Low D1, top D2 and top NAIA 

  • Height: 5’10”+
  • Club experience: Three to four years of AAU experience, playing on high-level teams that compete nationally. Three years of summer club experience, gaining coach exposure at tournaments.
  • High school experience: Three to four years as a varsity starter, earning awards such as All-State, All-Conference and All-Region. One of the top athletes on the team.  

Low D3 and low NAIA

  • Height: 5’8”+
  • Club experience: Two years of summer club experience, competing locally and state-wide.
  • High school experience: Varsity starter as an upperclassman, possibly earning some accolades such as All-Area, All-District or All-Conference. 

Low D3 and low JC

  • Height: 5’8”+
  • Club experience: Some AAU experience playing locally, although it is not necessary.
  • High school experience: One to two years of varsity experience.

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How to get ranked in women’s college basketball

Star ratings are a quick and easy way to convey a recruit’s level of talent to college coaches. Most commonly, student-athletes are ranked from no stars, meaning their talent is unknown, to 5 stars, or elite athletes. In women’s basketball, 5-star athletes are the best recruits in the country and have outstanding athleticism far beyond their peers. Prospects who are considered the best player on their club or high school team are typically 4-star and 3-star athletes. Student-athletes who show dominance on the court but have a few areas to improve on are usually labeled as 3-star athletes. Lastly, 1- and 2-star recruits have the potential to compete at the college level and after some training and development, could become reliable starters.

It’s important for recruits to gauge their level of talent so they know which programs they qualify for and most importantly, where they’ll garner coach interest. There are a couple of ways to receive a star rating and get ranked in basketball. First, they can ask their high school or club coach to help assess their skill set, and research college team rosters to see where their talent aligns. Another way is to have a third-party, like NCSA, use their expertise and knowledge of the college landscape to personally evaluate the recruit.

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