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    Part I

  • Scholarships,
    Part II

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  • What's It Like?
    Being recruited to play college ball sounds like a lot of fun, but it can also include pressure and big decisions. Here's a Q&A with an Indy senior who has recently gone through the process.

    By David Hill

    If you've stepped onto a court for more than a time or two, you've probably dreamed of it: A college coach scouting your games, hoping you'll come play at his or her school.

    The odds aren't great, as the NCAA estimates only 3.1 percent of high school players go onto play on an NCAA team. Still, there 4,100 freshman roster positions on NCAA teams, and college scouts are in the stands watching. A girl can dream, can't she?

    But what is it like to have college coaches following you, hoping you'll agree to come play for them?

    GBall asked that question (and more) of Dana Collins, a senior point guard at Decatur Central High School in Indianapolis, Ind., who was recruited from the end of her junior year through early this fall. With at least three schools pursuing her, she chose Ball State and expects to be at the Muncie, Ind., campus this time next year, starting her first year of NCAA Division I basketball.

    Gball: When did you find out you were being looked at by college coaches?
    Collins: I would say during my sophomore year. And then during AAU season, in the summer when I played with Indy's Finest.

    Did coaches come up to you or your AAU coach?
    They talked with my AAU coach, who would then talk to me. And then I just got letters in the mail. After each tournament I would get something. It worked like that. They would go up and talk to him and then he would come talk to me.

    Did you expect it?
    Yeah, just because everyone else told me about it. I was hoping all the hard work would pay off.

    What schools contacted you?
    Loyola University in Chicago, Ball State, Toledo, and Bowling Green kept in contact.

    What did you think? Were you excited?
    Yeah, it was exciting. It was something to look forward to. Once I got into the process and kept learning more and more, though, the excitement kind of went away. Once I narrowed down my school choices, then it got a little hard not knowing what my final decision would be. I knew what I wanted but it was a hard decision to make.

    What did you want?
    I wanted a top education, and Ball State had that. And then I liked the family atmosphere on the team. Ball State was the better choice out of all of them. I liked the family atmosphere, fitting right in.

    What happened then?
    After my junior year at Decatur started, I gave them my schedule and they came in and just watched. Then, the communication picked up a lot during summer ball. That's when they started actually coming in and having contact with my high school coach (Jill Meerman), and then we mailed out tapes to schools I was interested in of the games that I played in.

    Were any of your high school teammates recruited as well?
    Yes. Brittany Park went to Murray State. Lisa Shipley went to Hutchinson, which is a junior college in Kansas. And Maria Renner went to Wofford in South Carolina. Those were all seniors last year.

    How did you and others being recruited by colleges affect getting along with teammates?
    It helps me. I think they look forward to maybe picking up their game and playing also. If they're having a problem I can help them with it, just because I've been through it.

    Did you feel like you were a star?
    No, not really. We had a lot of depth on our team last year. We had more than just one person. It was all of us who went out and played.

    Did coaches come visit and talk to you and your parents?
    Yes. I had a couple home visits set up. But once I got back from my official visit at Ball State I knew right then that I wanted to go there, so I canceled my home visits with the other schools, and Ball State came in for a home visit. I went to Ball State Sept. 7th, 8th and 9th.

    What did you do there?
    We met with the team. We took the visit around the campus to see what that was like. Then I had a day with the team and went out with them, to see what they are all about. Then we met with the coaches, and I played in some of their open gyms. That was about it.

    What did you do with the team?
    I talked with them. We went out to eat together, went to a girl's apartment. We all watched a movie, just to hang out, just to see what they do in their free time.

    Is being recruited an intimidating process?
    I wouldn't say intimidating. It can be frustrating, depending on how much pressure you get put on you. Like if the (college) coaches pressure you into it, then it can get real scary , because you might fall under the pressure.

    Did you feel any pressure?
    Yeah. It built up there for a while. One school made a scholarship offer to me in early summer, and I didn't really know what I wanted, but they said they needed to have an answer. I really didn't have one because I wanted to visit other schools before I made my decision. And then they kept saying they needed to know and they were going on to someone else.

    Had you gotten interest from Ball State at that point?
    Yes. That's when I went in right away and visited their school.

    What did they say then? The Ball State coach had offered me. And I told her I wanted to take a visit. And then when I went on my visit, I talked to her about it. I had to do what I wanted. There really wasn't much to say.

    It sounds as if you had to spend some time thinking about what was important to you.
    Yes. I had to write down the pros and cons and go from there.

    What are you doing now?
    I can just go out and play now, and not worry about whether they're going to offer me or not. I can just go out and play.

    Who did you turn to for help?
    When it got bad, my high school coach and I would come in and we'd talk about it. I would turn to my mother and father, and they would give me what they thought, but they didn't really want to tell me much because they wanted me to make the decision on my own.

    Did Coach Meerman tell you the same thing?
    She more or less told me not to fall under the pressure. That's one thing that I couldn't do. You have to bear with it, not fall under the pressure.

    When you visited Ball State, what were some of the things you wanted to find out?
    Where I'd fit in on the team, what the school had to offer me education-wise, and just what the team was all about.

    What do you mean, "what the team was all about"?
    Things like how they acted toward each other. What they did on their free time, how they acted on the court and off the court together. It was pretty much a team.

    You liked what you saw?
    Oh, yeah. They get along really well. I just wanted it to be like my past year in high school, where everyone went out as a team, played as a team and did things together. That's exactly what Ball State was.

    Did you get to know any of the current players?
    Yes. I met them all. I met the whole team.

    At 5-5, do you think your size might have held down interest in you?
    Yes, I think so. Some would say I was too small, not strong enough, not fast enough. But I'm set and happy where I'm at.

    Do you think having committed to a college this fall is affecting the way you play this season, in your senior year of high school?
    Oh, yeah. It's allowing me to just go out and play, not worry about who's in the stands watching.

    What advice would you give to someone who might have college coaches coming to watch?
    Just go out and keep playing. Keep your mind set on what you want, and don't fall under the pressure. That's the main thing when recruiting: Don't fall under the pressure, don't let them pressure you.

    What did you say to them when that happened, when Loyola said they needed a decision "now"?
    I told them I wasn't ready to make a decision, that I felt like I deserved to go visit the other schools that were interested in me. And then they said, "Well, we need to know." And I just didn't have an answer for them. That's when it got hard. They could only call once a week, and they would call that one day a week, every week.

    Did you have to learn some of the NCAA recruiting rules?
    Yes. My coach helped me out on that. Plus I knew that they could call only once a week and that I couldn't go play in an open gym if the coaches were watching, and stuff like that.

    You mentioned Ball State has what you want in an education. Do you mean in terms of a major?
    Yes, I think I'm going to major in education or possibly physical therapy. I'm not too sure right now.

    When will you go to Muncie?
    It depends. The coach said some freshmen go to summer school. It just depends on if she wants me to go to that or not.

    Do you think you'll get in some playing time your first year?
    Yes, I think I will. They have a senior at point guard who's going to graduate this year. So I just have to go in and earn it.

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