Recruiting Column: Advice from Northwest Missouri State basketball coach Ben McCollum

Photo: Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University

Recruiting Column: Advice from Northwest Missouri State basketball coach Ben McCollum

High School Sports

Recruiting Column: Advice from Northwest Missouri State basketball coach Ben McCollum


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 This week’s article is written by Ross Hawley, the president of the company. 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.

Ben McCollum’s Northwest Missouri State Bearcats just capped off a 38-0 season by winning the 2018-19 NCAA Division II National Championship. For that, he was named the John McLendon National Coach of the Year.

In his 10 years at Northwest Missouri State, McCollum owns a record of 241-75, with six consecutive league titles. I could go on and on about his resume, but in the spirit of getting to the point… He’s one of the best college basketball coaches on the planet! If you’re a high school athlete looking to play at the next level, listen up!

This week, I sat down with Coach McCollum to talk college recruiting. From landing on his radar, to his advice for parents of recruits, here is what he had to say.

(Photo: Todd Weddle, Northwest Missouri State University)

Q: How can a recruit get on your radar?

A: If you’re wanting to get on our radar, make it personal. Reach out to us, as an individual. That makes things so much easier for us in understanding who we’re dealing with. Practically speaking, let us know why you’re interested and send your game film, stats and other information.

But it boils down to that personalized touch.

If you’re doing your homework on figuring out the level that is right for you, it’s simply making the effort to introduce yourself. After that, it’s pretty easy to get a feel whether a program is interested in you or not.

Q: Do you pay attention to a recruit’s social media?

A: Generally, we just don’t get to the real evaluation stage with any recruit without having evaluated their social media accounts. That’s just part of the intangible piece that we have to check off if we’re going to get serious about a guy.

Now, I will see say this; we strongly encourage the players getting an offer from us to respect what that scholarship represents. Getting an opportunity to play college basketball is the opportunity of a lifetime. Because the opportunity to play college basketball means you’re getting the opportunity to have your education paid for.

It’s our opinion that if an athlete is posting or Tweeting out every offer they’re receiving, including an offer from Northwest Missouri State, it cheapens something so valuable and genuine. And for what? To get love from people that probably don’t really know you or love you that much anyway?

We just firmly believe that something as special as playing college basketball, or any sport for that matter, should be treated as such.

Q: What advice do you have for parents of recruits?

A: As it relates to choosing a school, the first piece would be to evaluate your financial situation. Often times, getting a full scholarship is almost as important, if not more important than the school you pick. So, I would be clear on what an acceptable scholarship amount would be, within in the confines of your family budget.

You also need to be able to communicate that with the coaches that are recruiting your son or daughter. As coaches, we don’t see the financial conversations as disrespectful. They are necessary and fair to have for both the program and the family.

The second main point that I try to communicate with parents is to encourage their kids to find the schools that they’re kids are truly interested in and teach them to fight to go to that school! If a recruit knows what school they want, or want they want out of the recruiting process, it eliminates the fake “love” they can be susceptible to from schools that don’t matter.

You don’t want your son or daughter to make a decision like this based on the emotions of other people, or the glitz and glamour. If a coach has to convince you about their program, or you’re picking a school based on the gear they wear, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Q: What advice do you have for recruit deciding on which school to pick?

A: Pick the school, that if you didn’t play a second, you would still be happy. You would be happy with your teammates. You would be happy with the coaches and you would be happy with the institution. Trust your gut and pay attention to what the coaches are actually saying when they’re recruiting you.

For example, if a coach is telling you how much you’re going to play, they’re lying. We don’t know how a kid is going to fit in with our program until he is actually on our campus and playing for us.

Be careful with how much emotion you let into this process. And, do the best you can to commit to a school where you’re all in, regardless of your playing situation.


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