College tuition is notoriously expensive and probably not going down any time soon. An athletic scholarship can greatly decrease a student’s college costs and even result in a free ride. There are, however, a limited number of scholarships available, and competition for them can be fierce. When looking for a basketball scholarship, it’s important for a player to take actions that will help him or her stand out from the crowd and become one of the lucky 3.3 percent of high school students granted a basketball scholarship.

Academic Excellence

Grades matter. Though many college recruiters would love to award scholarships based on athleticism alone, the NCAA doesn’t allow it. Good grades keep student athletes eligible to play. They also boost the team’s overall GPA and graduation rates. The NCAA reviews all of a student’s high school grades – not just those from senior year. Students seeking a scholarship must apply themselves early and stay focused at all times.

The Right Place at the Right Time

It’s impossible for recruiters to visit every high school in the country searching for talent. Savvy students go to the recruiters themselves rather than waiting for one to come to them. The Armature Athletic Union of the United States (AAU) holds recruiting camps around the country each summer. These events give students a chance to play the sport they love while allowing recruiters to observe hundreds of athletes in a short time span. Students who want to play in front of a recruiter should attend several of these events, or as many as possible.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Eligibility matters, but talent and skill matter most. Unfortunately, an excellent student who fails to excel on the court isn’t going to get a scholarship just for loving the game. While a bit of natural talent helps, athletes wanting a scholarship must constantly work hard at improving their game and their levels of physical fitness. This is crucial for both recruitment and safety. Only the best make it to college teams, so students who are recruited need to compete with the biggest and strongest players in the region.

It is always worth pursuing basketball scholarships for student athletes who wish to challenge themselves and follow their athletic dreams. Formulate a backup plan, however, just in case. Competition for scholarships is fierce, so students should stay open to several schools rather than focusing on just one.