The Importance of Playing High School Basketball


Leaves are starting to change, there is a crispness in the air, and pumpkin spice lattes are ready to take over our mornings. Fall in the basketball world can be the abrupt transition from summer club ball to high school basketball season. Summer club ball can be full of competition, good coaching, travel, and fun for players. For some, it is a far cry from the experience they have with their high school basketball team. While the majority of girls have positive experiences with their high school teams (stellar coaching, high level teammates and competition), there are some that experience the adverse. Because of those negative experiences associated with high school teams, I have received several questions that have cued this blog: “Does my daughter need to play high school basketball if she plays on a good club team?” “Will it hurt her recruitment if she doesn’t play high school?”

The short answer from me is, “Yes.”

There can be exceptions but here is my opinion on why high school basketball is important character building and why it is valuable in the recruiting process.


  1. Red Flag- As a former college basketball recruiter, I was trained to look for “red flags” in individual recruits. Not playing high school basketball was always an immediate red flag because it signaled in a recruit a potential lack of commitment, potential lack of resilience in challenging circumstances, or potential drama within the team and in player/player or player/coach relationships. It would always cue to do more research to get to the bottom of why she isn’t playing and more often than not, the potential scenarios were indeed the case. Most coaches would be very cautious to take a risk on a player that could bring drama, lack of resilience, or immature communication to their team culture.


  1. Recruiting- Many coaches, especially smaller schools with smaller budgets that weren’t out recruiting at every tournament in the summer, use the high school season as a valuable recruiting time. Her lack of competing may cause her to miss being seen by a recruiter.


  1. Leadership- She may be the best player on the team and feel as though she is not being challenged to get better. This is common but it is a myth when perspectives are shifted. Her greatest competition is always herself, so set the example of getting in extra work outside of practice. Within the confines of practice, take the opportunity to focus in on working on weaknesses. And learn to lead!! Her talent affords her the power to have a strong voice of positivity, accountability, motivation, and energy. The best players make others around them better.


  1. Communication- There are many great and qualified coaches out there serving our youth. There are also a few that are under-qualified. This isn’t a reason to run but it is a reason to have great communication with the coach. Listening to the coach is a sign of respect and having constructive player/coach conversations about the vision for the season, offensive schemes, concerns, etc. is usually welcomed by the coach. Note: I did not mention parent/coach conversations. It is important to empower our daughters to communicate with coaches.


  1. Resilience- Drama and jealousy are no strangers to the scene. We are dealing with high school girls (Note: see my last blog on Comparison). Even if she feels she is a target of jealousy or dislike from teammates, this is her opportunity to rise above it. It’s an opportunity to be a great teammate despite how she is treated by others. With this positive attitude and leadership ability, jealousy usually dissipates with time. When we teach and equip our girls to face challenges instead of avoid, we are giving them the tools to succeed in basketball and more importantly, life.

I want to help your daughter grow and achieve her dreams. If you’ve been contemplating partnering with me, the time is now. I look forward to being your teammate in the recruiting process!

Mandy Close Kavanaugh