Recruiting Confidential: Basketball

Portions of this story originally appeared in the Winter 2012 issue of ESPNHS magazine.

There's a lot of dirt in the recruiting game, especially at the highest levels in basketball. To get to the bottom of it, we spoke to 25 seniors in the ESPNU 100 under the condition of anonymity to get the real story. Here's what they had to say about illegal benefits, coaches lying and why they really commit to schools.

The number next to each multiple choice selection indicates how many players selected that answer. The quotes are from the players themselves.

I would describe the recruiting process as _________:

Fun: 19
Stressful: 5
Annoying: 1

"I don't see how people can say it's stressful. People and schools are interetested in trying to get you to a better place in life. That's fun and exciting to me."

What's the best reason to sign with a school?

Will best prepare you for the NBA: 6
Offers best chance to win an NCAA championship: 4
Offers best combination of athletics/academics: 10
Combination of getting ready for NBA & winning NCAA championship: 4
Coaching staff: 1

How many years is a scholarship good for?

One year: 19
Four years: 5
Three years: 1

What should you receive as a Division I player?

Scholarship: 6
Scholarship plus $2,000 stipend: 6
Scholarship plus bigger stipend: 6
Full market value: 7

"They're paying for your education, so technically you're already being paid."

Would you take money if offered and you knew you wouldn't get caught?

Yes: 5
No: 20

"Oh, of course. That's easy. Who wouldn't [if] they knew they wouldn't be caught?"

"My mom always told me, whatever you do in the dark always comes to the light, so there's no not getting caught in my mind."

Have any schools offered you cash or other illegal benefits?

Yes: 7
No: 18

"One day I was working out in the gym with my dad, and some guy who was a booster came over, and he basically offered my dad $100,000 for me to go there."

How often do coaches lie during process?

Some of the time: 14
Most of the time: 8
Never: 3

"It's like talking to a used-car salesman sometimes. That's the challenge of the process, weeding out those who tell you what you want to hear and those who tell you what you need to hear."

Who do you least like getting calls/texts from?

Random people: 2
Reporters: 6
Recruiting/Fan Sites: 10
School Alumni: 1
Coaches: 3
None: 3

"The media can get a little hectic when they all want to talk to you. Sometimes you have homework or you're tired, but they'll keep calling and want to talk."

If a school recruiting you went through a major legal scandal like Penn State, how much would that impact your interest in them?

A lot: 17
A little: 8

Who would you rather sign with?

A mid-major with lots of tourney success, like Butler: 10
School in big-time conference with little tourney success: 13
Depends on where I could play right away: 2

Who influenced your college decision most?

Parents: 22
Other recruits: 1
AAU coach: 1
All of above: 1

Did schools recruiting you use hostesses or girls during your visits?

No: 16
Yes: 9

How much attention have you paid to conference realignment?

None: 5
A little: 12
A lot: 8

Would you be more/less likely to go to a school that was changing conferences?

More likely: 2
Less likely: 8
No difference: 15

Would you sign with a school that was banned from the NCAA tourney?

Yes: 3
No: 20
Depends on how long: 2

"If I'd already committed there and felt like it was the best school for me to play right away and get me ready for the NBA, I think I would."

How much does NCAA tourney success play in your decision?

A lot: 11
A little: 10
None: 4

How much does a school's academics impact your decision?

A lot: 16
A little: 8
None: 1

What's the most original thing a school did to try to get you to commit?

"One school sent me a picture with LeBron James sitting on a throne, but they cut out his face and put mine on there, and it said,
'If you come here, you can be seated on your rightful throne.'"