USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Playced.com. This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology based recruiting service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and provides a recruiting system that is second to none for student-athletes of all talent levels and ages.
G.O.A.T. – The Greatest of All-Time. That’s the best way to describe Oklahoma City University’s Women’s Basketball program. I know, that’s a bold statement to make about any team. So, how do I support such a claim? Well, since the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics started holding its annual women’s tournament in 1981, the Stars have made 11 appearances in the championship game. They’ve claimed 9 national titles. Yes, that’s an NAIA best. Enough said.
This past week, I had the privilege of sitting down with the engineer of OCU’s most recent national title run in 2017, Bo Overton. And after talking with Coach Overton, it’s safe to say, “Bo knows recruiting!”
Here’s Coach Overton’s advice to all you high school athletes looking to play at the next level.
Q: How does a recruit initially get your attention?
A: We pay a lot of attention to how a player performs for her high school team or her summer team. So, I think it really starts there with just being aware of the players that are standing out at that level.
Additionally, we’re so fortunate to have great relationships with so many of the high school coaches and the AAU coaches throughout the state of Oklahoma, and beyond.
I always tell those coaches that if they think they’ve got a player we need to look at, let me know because we’re going to pay attention to what they’re telling us. I put a good amount of value into a coach’s opinion on a player.
Lastly, our university has such a tremendous reputation both from an academic perspective, as well as an athletic perspective. And that reputation alone helps us in the recruiting process because we’ll get athletes from all over the country that are interested in what we’re doing, here. As a student-athlete, you can truly achieve success on and off the court at OCU and that’s something we’re so proud of.
Q: How would you recommend a recruit communicating interest in your program to you?
A: The easiest thing to do is to pick up the phone and call us or send us an email. Have your coach reach out to us. Listen, if you’re going to take the time to tell us that you are interested in our program, we’re going to respond. Any player that has the courage to articulate what they want from us deserves an opportunity to be further evaluated by our staff.
Recruiting is all about gathering information, evaluating that information and then deciding on that information. Our goal at OCU is to make sure that every young lady we bring in is thrilled to be a part of our program. To get to that point though, it’s a process for both our program, as well as the recruit and the start to all of that is communication. If you’re interested in us, tell us. We’ll do our best to make sure you’re in a situation that gives you the best chance to excel, whether that’s OCU or not.
Q: Physical talent aside, what does the ideal recruit look like for Oklahoma City University?
A: There’s no question that academics play a huge part to that. Higher test scores will always get you more scholarship dollars. That’s something I wish more high school students really understood because being a good student is a huge piece to the puzzle when we’re recruiting an athlete.
I put a lot of stock into how a player interacts with others, as well. I want to see how she interacts with her coaches. I want to see how she handles her parents. Is she paying attention and making eye contact? Or is she disrespectful and a distraction? I firmly believe that how she treats the adults in her life now is how she’s going to treat us if she was a part of our program.
I also want to see how she treats her teammates. One of the easiest ways to evaluate the character of any recruit is to watch how she interacts with her peers. A big reason we’ve been so successful at OCU is because we have a program loaded with great teammates. Bottom line, you can’t win at the highest level with selfish athletes.
Q: What red flags do you pay attention to when recruiting an athlete?
A: A lot of the times, I watch the parents of the players we’re out recruiting. I know everyone’s heard the horror stories of the parent going overboard on a ref or a coach and I’m here to tell you that coaches are paying attention to that stuff. If you’re a good player and you have parents that are acting foolishly, we’re going to think twice about bringing you on board.
At OCU, we’ve done such an amazing job of setting the tone and the expectations of everyone involved with our program. That includes parents. And like many other quality programs, we don’t have to look the other way on that kind of immature behavior. We simply don’t have to put up with risking our standards for any player.
Q: What does it take to win a national championship?
A: It really is about the players. We have such a diverse group at OCU and they’ve done an outstanding job of embracing each other and embracing their opportunities. They love each other and they just love to play the game of basketball. I think when you couple that with the support we receive from our administration and our university, it’s been the formula behind all our success.