If you buy into the old cliché phrase “home is where the heart is” then it’s easy to see why college basketball coaches put such a high premium on in-home visits with prospective recruits.
“The home visit is the most personal,” ESPN recruiting director Paul Biancardi said. “You’re sitting down face-to-face in someone’s kitchen or living room. It’s the most genuine time of the entire process. It’s big.”
The operative question is: What are the keys to nailing said in-home visit from the coaches’ perspective?
We caught up with Biancardi, a former head and assistant college coach who won Horizon League Coach of the Year at Wright State in 2004, to get the scoop.
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“As a coach, you don’t want this to be a recruiting visit,” Biancardi said. “You want this to be about communication, conversation and trust. Eventually, if those three things get checked off, you’ve got a good chance for a commitment someday.”
Here’s what Biancardi said college coaches have on their mind during the home invasion.
It’s like an away game.
“This is probably the only time the recruit and his family have the home court advantage. All of the other visits are in the coach’s office or on their campus or something like that. Parents are bolder in their own home and it’s a good thing. It’s important for parents to be able to ask those tough, direct questions because it puts them at ease and it makes the visit that much more genuine.”
Studying the recruit’s interaction with his mom.
“I always thought this interaction was the most important. I’d watch how he spoke to his mom and how affectionate he was toward her. It’s the same for how he interacts with his dad too, but there are times when you’re in a single-parent home. I want to be able to turn to the parents if I ever had to discipline their son and know that they’re OK with it.”
“Of course coaches want the kid to commit on the visit, but it’s not something they’re gonna push in the recruit’s house. You just have to feel it out. You never wanna put pressure on anyone. It should be really laid back.”
Get up close and personal.
“I think it’s really important for the head coach to sit as close as possible, if not right next to the recruit the whole night. At the end of the day, the parents aren’t gonna play, the player is and if you’re sitting away from the player that’s not a good thing. It’s a body language thing. We’re gonna be together for four years so I’d want to be right next to him from the beginning.”
Eat mom’s cooking!
“You’d better eat mama’s food! The truth of the matter is this; most of the time the meal is already communicated. The parents will ask the coaches what they like to eat and they’ll have that ready for them when they get there. Most times the coaches have traveled all day or they’ve worked all day and driven and things like that and by the time they get there they really are hungry and looking forward to eating. But, even if you’re not hungry, you’re gonna eat mom’s cooking.”
Don’t forget your manners.
“Say thank you! It’s just genuine to do that, knowing that they’ve got six visits lined up after you. The parents can draw a lot of information from simple manners.”
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY