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College Basketball Scholarships: Four Unknown Truths Every Recruit Should Know

ByKeiwaine Hicks

4 min read

College Basketball Scholarships: Four Unknown Truths Every Recruit Should Know

For many people in the basketball community, a college basketball scholarship is held in the highest esteem. It’s the ultimate status symbol - a golden ticket to a promising future and new world of educational opportunity, travel, and a chance to hone and develop your craft under some of the best coaches and training in the world.

Thoughts of playing in sold-out arenas on national television, having your games broadcast around the world, and competing against the best players from around the globe are tantalizing. If everything goes as planned, the opportunity to potentially play basketball professionally and earn a living by playing basketball is within reach on the horizon.

According to a 2020 study conducted by the NCAA, only 3.5

of high school males playing varsity basketball make an NCAA college roster and only 1.0
make a Division I roster. For high school females playing varsity basketball, only 4.1
make an NCAA college roster and 1.3
make a Division I roster.

Despite small odds, many high school student-athletes pursue their passion and hope to earn the coveted prize. Although those perceived grandiose illusions and vision of financial security are certainly a reality for some players, there is more that happens behind the scenes that aren’t sensationalized and cloud the truths of college basketball scholarships.

Here are four unknown truths about college basketball scholarships that every recruited student-athlete should know about:

Basketball Scholarships Can Be Rescinded During the Recruiting Process

It’s important to remember that a basketball scholarship is not binding until a student-athlete signs a National Letter of Intent (NLI). College basketball coaches might rescind a basketball scholarship offer for many reasons.

A coach’s roster is constantly in a state of flux due to reasons which include: players transferring in and out of a program, grad students using an extra year of eligibility, and academic casualties. When a basketball coach offers you a basketball scholarship, he or she might not have taken into account or predicted changes in the future.

Also, coaches who offer basketball scholarships early during a student-athlete’s recruiting process do so as a measure of recognizing potential, which could be in terms of physical or skill potential.

When a recruited student-athlete fails to develop as anticipated or a coach doesn’t see desired growth in skill development, a coach might rescind a basketball scholarship offer. Remember: “Nothing is guaranteed unless it’s in writing...”

Ask: “Am I on track to receive and earn a National Letter of Intent to sign?”


Not All Basketball Scholarships Are Committable

“If a college basketball coach offers me a basketball scholarship, I can commit at any time, right?”

After receiving a basketball scholarship offer, immediately follow up with the question, “Am I able to commit now?” If a coach says you aren’t able to commit, then, assuredly, it’s a non-committable offer.

College basketball coaches extend non-committable offers for a myriad of reasons, which include publicity exposure and to retain coaching relationships with coaches at the grassroots, AAU, and high school levels. Also, college basketball coaches can offer you a basketball scholarship, despite not having an actual basketball scholarship available or a roster spot for you.

Ask: “Is this a committable offer?!”


Basketball Scholarships Are Renewable Year-To-Year

Once you sign a NLI, it does not guarantee four years of scholarship, as they are renewable year-to-year at the coach’s discretion. Factors that could determine whether your basketball scholarship is renewed include: recruiting developments, roster changes, character/off-court behavior, academics, and even on-court performance.

Additionally, the amount of scholarship money you receive can vary year-to-year as well. In most cases, the head coach decides who receives a basketball scholarship, the scholarship amount, and whether the scholarship will be renewed.

If the coach informs you that your basketball scholarship will not be renewed, he or she must inform you in writing, and you will be given time to appeal the decision.

As a student-athlete, it’s imperative to remain in good academic standing, be of good character, and give your best effort on a daily basis to help ensure that your basketball scholarship will get renewed each year.

Ask: “What percentage of players on the team and during your tenure has had their basketball scholarships renewed?”


Scholarship Amount Might Be Correlated to Anticipated, Potential, or Immediate Impact

It’s important to remember the economic reality of college basketball scholarships: often, there are more players on a roster than available fully-funded basketball scholarships. Even though some schools have different scholarship allotment, a number which varies depending on gender and division level, not all schools have the max number of scholarships funded. As a result, you can often infer or correlate your anticipated potential immediate impact to the amount of scholarship money offered.

For instance, one basketball coach might offer a full-scholarship, while another coach might offer 50

. A basketball coach might promise to only give 25
the first year, but give hints that you potentially could receive a full amount from your second year on, depending on your development.

Basketball coaches who are more eager to sign you and feel that you could make a great impact immediately will more than likely offer more scholarship money. Additionally, this can be a determining factor in eliminating schools based upon the amount of scholarship money offered.

Ask: “What are some criteria used to determine the amount of scholarship money offered?”


While undergoing the college basketball recruiting process, it’s vital to know about and be cognizant of some of the realities of college basketball scholarships.

Knowing these truths can play a key role during your decision making process, eliminating schools, and ultimately finding the school that’s the right academic and basketball fit for you.

Keiwaine Hicks is a contributing basketball writer for GMTM. He is a graduate of Duke University, has over 20 years experience coaching basketball at various levels, and is passionate about helping student-athletes achieve maximum success."

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