Advice for Recruits, Coaches, and Parents With the New Transfer and Eligibility Rules

The trickle-down effect of the pandemic is having a significant impact on high school and college basketball with new transfer and eligibility rules. We found out yesterday that at the very least, high school basketball likely won’t be starting on time in Illinois. Players, coaches, and parents are scrambling to understand what all of this means. I put this together to try to provide some clarity and advice for all of the affected groups.

Here is a quick rundown of eligibility and recruiting changes at each level of college basketball:

Division I

Eligibility Change: Every winter sports athlete will be given an extra year of eligibility, regardless of how many games they play this season (release here).

– Typically D1 basketball players have a five-year clock, meaning they can play in four seasons over a five-year span (one “redshirt” year). Now, that changes to a six-year clock where you can play five seasons, assuming games are allowed this year. This rule only applies to current college players. Incoming high school recruits will be under the standard five-year clock.

Recruiting: Dead period currently through January 1. Expected to be extended through the Final Four

– No face to face contact. Coaches cannot come to watch you play or host you on visits. They can still call, text, and write letters

Division II

Eligibility Change: Every winter sports athlete will be given an extra year of eligibility, regardless of how many games they play this season (release here).

– D2 players have the first 10 semesters OR 15 quarters to compete in 4 seasons. This change should extend that to five seasons in 12 semesters OR around 18 quarters (no official language on the semester/quarter adjustment)

Recruiting: Quiet period (only face to face contact on a college campus) until the HS season starts. Then the evaluation period was supposed to start during the year (colleges and high schools may limit this if face to face contact is allowed).

Division III

Eligibility Change: Division III Management Council has proposed a blanket waiver that would give an extra year of eligibility regardless of games played. An official review will occur on Wednesday (10/28) with more details.

– D3 players have the first 10 semesters OR 15 quarters to compete in 4 seasons. If approved, this proposal should extend that to five seasons in 12 semesters OR around 18 quarters

– D3 players lose eligibility if they practice or compete after the first date of competition. D1 and D2 players only lose eligibility for that “redshirt” year if they play in a game. There are medical and hardship waivers that can occur, but I won’t get into that today.

Recruiting: Restrictions may vary school by school, but as a whole, they can come to see you play or talk to you on unofficial visits. Need to wait until January 1st of your junior year for official visits


Eligibility Change: Every winter sports athlete will be given an extra year of eligibility, regardless of how many games they play this season (release here).

– JUCO players could return for a third season

– JUCO freshmen could play this year, transfer to a 4-year school, and still have four years of eligibility

Recruiting: Restrictions may vary school by school, but as a whole they can talk with you and watch you play as desired. One official visit.


Eligibility Change: NONE – As of now, NAIA as a whole is planning on proceeding with winter sports as scheduled without offering additional eligibility

– NAIA players still have the first 10 semesters OR 15 quarters to compete in 4 seasons of the sport

Recruiting: Restrictions may vary school by school, but as a whole they can talk with you and watch you play as desired

Proposed Transfer Rule for D1: There is a rule that has been proposed to allow players to transfer once during their college careers without sitting out for a season.

Impact: The transfer market could turn into The Wild West. It has already reached the point where coaches plan to lose someone to the transfer portal every year. But I’m here to talk recruitment, so this is how I think this rule will affect high school recruits:

  1. College coaches might hold their open roster spots for a potential transfer who could provide a more immediate impact. At the D1 level, coaches with immediate needs could go after any name in the transfer portal as opposed to only looking for grad transfers or hoping for a waiver.
  2. The ability to transfer with no sit-out rule will lead to more underclassmen transfers later in the school year. That means potential roster spots might be open in the late spring/early summer for high school seniors who are still uncommitted. Many transfers struggle to get acclimated to new systems and sometimes need to unlearn old concepts. Some coaches would rather add a player that will contribute for three or four years versus one who will be there for one or two.

Scholarships For Each Level

D1 – 13

D2 – 10 total. Most kids are getting partial scholarships

D3 – no athletic scholarships but most schools will work with you on finding other aid

JUCO – 15

NAIA D1 – 11

NAIA D2 – 7



1. Don’t Panic

Some of you guys have zero interest or zero offers. Some of you with offers are being pushed to make a quick decisions without seeing the campus, talking with potential teammates, or meeting the coaches face to face. We don’t know if and when the high school season will start. And the extra year of eligibility is a big blow, especially for 2021s. Some coaches are halting recruitment or looking for decisions soon, so some other kid who pulls the trigger quicker might get your spot. This is happening especially with 2021s and 2022s. That’s just the way it is right now. So if you have an offer that you like, don’t play games.

Everyone else, do not panic. Some coaches have not found the type of player they are looking for or have missed on kids they felt were priorities. If you are their priority recruit, they will let you know. For any uncommitted player that is still looking to find their fit, there are options if you don’t don’t pigeonhole yourself.

You will have to be proactive and work harder to get your name out there to let coaches know you are serious about their programs, but all of the spots are not dried up. Without live events, coaches need film. The more recent the better. Preferably full game film over a few highlights. A lot of college coaches would rather have a promising recruit that could provide four years of production over a fifth-year senior that has plateaued. Some coach needs what you have to offer. Don’t give up what you have worked for or make a rush commitment because the landscape got tougher. Do your due diligence, control what you can control, and go forward with positivity.

2. Consider Every Option

Now is not the time to have a “D1 or bust” mindset. Especially now, you should respond to every college coach that reaches out. That doesn’t mean you take a visit everywhere, but let them know that you appreciate their interest.

The basketball community is smaller than you think. That JUCO coach you blew off yesterday might be the named the assistant at a Power-5 school that you dreamed of tomorrow. Make a checklist of what you want in a school (athletically, academically, geographically, etc.) and see how colleges compare to that. I know I’m using the word “fit” a lot, but that is going to be key for every recruit now more than ever.

3. Get Your Mind and Body Right

You might be matched up against a 24-year-old in your first college practice. Your skill or athleticism might win you some battles in high school, but you could be competing for a spot against grown men. Illinois restrictions can’t stop you from working on your strength, quickness, balance, and durability. Plenty of freshmen have talent, but with the new transfer and eligibility rules, you need to be able to compete physically and defend to separate yourself once you reach the college level.

Also, do not discount your mental health. Nothing is normal right now. There are teammates, friends, family, and coaches who you can talk to about everything that is going on. As a young college player, the way you handle adversity, react to success, and talk to yourself will influence your outcomes. The same goes for off the court matters.

4. Remember the Student Part

I cannot stress this enough. As spots are held for returning seniors and transfers, there are going to be fewer athletic scholarships for current high schoolers. So many kids rely on that scholarship to be able to afford school. Maintaining good grades will give you a wider range of schools to choose from and give you and your family the chance for financial relief through various academic scholarships.

It will also make you a more attractive recruit for coaches without full scholarships available. That goes for players who might want to walk-on and try to earn an athletic scholarship, a D2 recruit, or a D3 player that isn’t able to receive athletic rewards. If you consider yourself a competitor, you should be competing with yourself in the classroom (or on Zoom) every day anyways.

5. Ask the right questions

Don’t hesitate to ask what you want to know. I talked about being a priority recruit. With this environment, it’s a good time to find out which coaches view you as a priority. Ask how their recruiting strategy has changed with the new eligibility rules.

If you committed today and they found out that all of their players wanted to return next year, would they still honor your commitment? You do not want ambiguity and blurred lines. Be direct and honest about where you are in the recruiting process. And please do not lie about your interest, test scores, or commitment status.

College Coaches

1. Be Genuine

Of course. This sounds obvious and some coaches do a great job of keeping it real. But recruits need full transparency right now. If you know spots are limited now or gone altogether for upcoming classes, don’t string along recruits. It’s better to let them know the situation so that they can move accordingly with their own recruiting process. As much as we want kids to be honest about their interest, we need coaches to reciprocate it.

2. Be a Resource When You can

I know this isn’t part of the job description. But if you are moving on from a recruit and have built a solid relationship, don’t hesitate to offer any help as they go through the rest of their process. For 2021s in particular, they have been hit as hard as any recruiting class.

If you know another coach that might be interested in them or have advice on navigating their recruitment, that could go a long way. At the end of the day, we all want to see these kids be successful.

3. Trust Your Work

When it comes to recruiting during this extended dead period or with limited live games to go watch, a lot of coaches are relying on limited game film from last year and highlights. Trust your eye as an evaluator. You know what type of players will have success in your system and which ones might struggle. Every coach is feeling some form of pressure to lock up their recruits sooner rather than later, but don’t let that override your ability to identify talent and do your own due diligence.

If you want to offer a player based on a highlight tape, that is your prerogative. But recruits, high school/club coaches, and trainers understand the urgency as well. Get the information that you need and go get your guy(s). Rushing the process hurts everyone but when you find kids who will help your program, don’t wait too long. Someone’ else might see that same potential.

High School Coaches

1. Develop Your Worst Case Scenario Plan

While I don’t want to imagine it, there is a chance that the high school season in Illinois is cancelled. Think of how you will help your guys get better if they said practices and games were not allowed. Do you have a workout plan for players to do at home? Is there a ball-handling or shooting program that you can give to them? What about film sessions on Zoom to improve their basketball IQ and understanding of rotations and actions? Think of creative ways to engage your players even if there is no contact. And if the season gets the green light and there is a delay from the virus, you’ll have something to lean on.

2. Be Your Players’ Biggest Advocate

If you have players that are capable of playing in college and are recruitable (grades and attitude in check), email coaches, send film, and speak up on behalf of them. They need you right now. Uncommitted 2021s are in a dog fight trying to find a home. Without live evaluation periods and in-state games, college coaches need high school coaches to give them a solid understanding of what type of player and kid they would be receiving.

3. Keep Learning

Most high school coaches are juggling Zoom class during the day, trying to figure out a bunch of logistical issues for a season that may not happen, and being present with their families. However it looks for you, this is still a prime time to add some skills to the bag. YouTube is like an endless database of drills and sets. On top of the on-court improvements, think about how you can connect with your team on a more consistent basis.

AAU/Club Coaches

1. Give a True Assessment

Chances are, every kid in your program is not going to a Division-1 school. And that’s ok. Don’t do your players a disservice by telling them that they are a D1 player only to have them focus their attention on schools that are not interested or realistic. For those who have stayed honest with their kids, we appreciate you all for helping the players get where they are valued.

2. Tap Into Your Networks Even More

Many AAU programs already send information on players to college coaches throughout the year. Keep it up. Most teams scrimmaged or played in games over the summer. You have the most recent film of these kids so don’t hesitate to share it. Any connections you have made over the years are that much more valuable.

3. Plan For A Cancelled HS Season

Let’s say the IHSA season is cancelled. Are you going to have a winter program for AAU? Think about how to be an outlet for kids if they are unable to play in Illinois. Playing tournaments in neighboring states may look different with those states being in-season, but who’s to say that there can’t be an All-Illinois league set up in Hammond or Kenosha?


1. Look at Your Alternatives

A number of kids are “moving” out of state to regions where high school basketball is not on hold. Personally, I would love to see the IHSA and state get it together to have a plan for a safe season. We will see later today if there is at least a plan with some deadlines or return guidelines.

Transferring out of state could be a logistical nightmare and unrealistic for many families, so I will touch briefly on some other options. Utilizing and finding trainers (which may be you) to do skill work with going forward will be important. If the IHSA start is delayed, putting together a team of friends or even high school teams to play in a league across the border is possible.

2. Don’t Ruin It For Your Kid

I know you’re the one paying the bills and may be the one paying for college as well. I heard that. Some of you don’t want to hear this or have heard it plenty of times, but you can potentially damage your kid’s chances by how you interact with other people. Be respectful and understand that everyone’s baby is not going D1 (which is fine) and the coach cannot possibly be the problem every time. Recruiting is becoming a game of inches.

If two kids have the exact same skill set and makeup, but one has parents that berate the coach all game, which kid do you think is getting the offer? For some of you that continue to be your child’s biggest fan, keep it up. They need that tough love, honesty, and the occasional hype. I’ve had great interactions with parents over the last few months who just want their kids to get a chance. Humility and research is key.

3. Search School Information

As much as I would like to think high school athletes look into schools when they start to receive interest, I know that’s not the case. Checking academic information, looking up potential scholarships, and researching schools as a whole can go a long way into moving the recruiting process along for your child.

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