College Basketball recruiting can be a long and exhausting process for both the players and coaches. For the most elite of prospects, they can expect their recruiting to begin as early as 8th grade; for the general recruits, their process picks up usually around 10th or 11th grade. One great way for prospects to get noticed by a larger group of schools and coaches is by attending elite basketball camps.
Elite basketball camps are camps that are usually hosted on-campus at a university where players can go to showcase their skills. These camps can last for a day, a weekend, or even a week.
While there are plenty of camps that are held across the country, there are only so many elite camps. Also, just because a player is invited to one of these elite camps, it does not mean that player will necessarily get a scholarship offer to play in college. Likewise, if a player is never invited to an elite camp, it does not mean they will never play collegiate basketball.
Elite Basketball Camps –What They Are
Elite basketball camps are not on a specialized circuit. There is no formal website that lists all of the elite camps that are held each year; rather, they are found by players and coaches who have been known to showcase talent in the past.
Whenever someone thinks of college basketball, there are some elite programs that come to mind (also known as the “Blue Bloods”). These programs: Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Michigan State, and UCLA are the winningest programs in the sport’s history and are constantly in the running for national titles. Because of their illustrious records and reputation, these schools put on elite camps for recruits to attend.
But these are not the only programs that have elite basketball camps held every year. Seemingly every major college basketball program is going to host an elite basketball camp every year and invite the best talent in the vicinity of the college to attend. The purpose of these camps is broken down in the next section.
The Purpose of Elite Basketball Camps
The purpose of the elite basketball camps can be broken down into two categories: players and coaches. These camps are not just for the players to gain experience and exposure, and the coaches get a lot out of these camps as well.
For the players, attending one of these camps can open up a wide range of potential recruiting avenues. These camps are usually attended by multiple college coaches at all levels (Division I, II, III, NAIA, NJCAA, etc.) and are great for getting exposure to new schools in an area of the country that may not recruit a player otherwise.
For the coaches, meanwhile, these camps can also help their recruiting. These camps are great introductions to players they may not have seen play before and can lead to further recruiting in the future. For younger coaches, or people wanting to get into the coaching business, these camps are great for making connections and potentially getting a future job.
Where Do I Find Elite Basketball Camps?
Elite basketball camps are not advertised in the traditional way. Most basketball day camps or weekend camps are going to be held at high schools or local gyms and are essentially ways for players to remain active in the off-season. The elite camps, however, are more so found if a player has shown potential in the past or if a player is able to connect to a college coaching staff.
Local Colleges’ Websites
The best and perhaps the easiest way a player is able to find where an elite basketball camp is being held is to go to your local college basketball program’s website and look for a tab about camps. For the most part, the camps are going to be held after the college basketball season is over, so from the end of April through August is usually the times they occur.
Ask Local Coaches
If the website does not provide much information, the next step would be to contact any high school or AAU coaches in the player’s area to see if they have any connections to college programs hosting elite camps. The high school and AAU coaches are usually the main sources of contact between players and college programs, so they might have insight as to when and where these camps might be.
Inquire with College Coaching Staff
The final way to find an elite camp would be to contact the college basketball coaching staff directly (email, social media direct message, etc.) and see if the college is hosting any elite camps in the future. This technique usually does not get a response simply because most college basketball coaching staffs get hundreds of communications daily about recruits, among other items. But it can be fruitful in some extreme cases.
Pros and Cons of Attending Elite Basketball Camps
While most players tend to think that attending an elite basketball camp will guarantee them a spot on a collegiate roster, the truth is these camps are really just the beginning of the recruiting process. There are plenty of good reasons a player would want to attend one of these camps, though.
The pros of attending one or more of these elite basketball camps are just what you would think they are:
- Great exposure for getting scouted. These camps are where coaches usually find the best recruits they are going after. If the timing is right, these camps are great introductions for players to be seen by coaches during live gameplay. It can be hard at tournaments for coaches to see all of the players they want to see over the weekend, but these camps allow coaches to see players in action.
- Get to know the competition. The camps also help a player gauge their skillsets against other, elite recruits. For recruits at smaller high schools or on lesser-known AAU teams, going up against better talent can help the player see how good they actually are. It also helps coaches see how well a player does against better competition as well.
Aside from the competitive aspects, elite camps are also great for players to get to know one another in a setting outside of basketball. If the camps are weekend or week-long camps, a lot of the time will be spent on the courts, but there is also plenty of team-building that goes into the camps as well. There are plenty of professional players that have met at elite basketball camps in the past.
While these elite basketball camps are mainly a positive to attend, there are some negatives that can occur for players.
- Greater risk of injury. One big con is the potential for injuries to occur during these camps. While the camps are normally held on college campuses with training staffs on standby, there are still injuries that can happen because the players are competing against one another.
- Greater audience for low performance, too. Another con would be that a player can hurt their recruiting profile if they do not play well. While a player may not completely fall off the radar of all of the colleges, the elite colleges (“Blue Bloods”) might not recruit a player as much if they feel the player is not good enough to play with the best talent.
Attending elite basketball camps can be a great time for recruits and other players to develop their skillsets, meet new players, and develop relationships with coaches they might not get to meet otherwise.
These camps are normally held on college campuses that host camps on a yearly basis. They are a great way for players to expand their recruiting circle and potentially find their college destination.
Finding an elite camp might take a little bit of digging around local college basketball program’s websites or asking around to high school or AAU coaches. But, if you do find one and sign up, be prepared to face the best players in the area as well.