One of the World's top basketball scouting services will be in New Zealand this month, on a talent drive offering young basketball players exposure to colleges in the United States.
Shane Howard, Chief Executive of Custom College Recruiting (CCR), specialises in recruiting athletes from outside the U.S. Howard says that in the last 16 months nearly 40 young New Zealanders have committed to U.S Colleges through CCR. These scholarships have a combined value of over $4.4 million NZD in scholarships.
"I think this is huge and will continue to lead to a rise in population of basketball players within New Zealand. The great part is that I think we are just getting started," says Howard.
In 2015 there were over 50 Kiwi Women and over 40 Kiwi men playing U.S college basketball on scholarships. Howard says that there is a building reputation among U.S colleges that Kiwis not only offer good ability on the court, but they are generally well-educated and well-equipped to meet academic requirements.
"We check our clients' academic levels and make it clear what they need to be doing in the classroom to get a shot at a scholarship, but generally young Kiwi basketballers make the cut. They have made a huge impact in the world of college basketball here in the U.S. With the influx of talent, it's safe to say that interest in Kiwi basketballers has never been higher."
This is the fourth trip in 14 months that CCR has visited New Zealand to talk with young Kiwi players and their families.
"Basketball offers great opportunities for Kiwis in the U.S. Our business is helping those players to get noticed by college coaches, which often leads to college scholarships and opportunities that suit their ability. I tell players that don't always need to pay for expensive plane fares to play in U.S. tours that are not even attended by scouts or colleges. Instead, we do much of our scouting online, with video, and talking to the likes of Basketball New Zealand and local contacts," says Mr Howard.
Chief Executive of Basketball New Zealand, Iain Potter, says it was problems from players travelling abroad in search of being seen by colleges that led to them partnering with CCR in 2015. Potter says some families had told Basketball New Zealand that their children returned from tours abroad without being seen, despite the significant investment to travel abroad.
"We don't object to teams going to the U.S. for the experience, for the sights and for the fun of the game. We do object when these young players are being promised scholarship exposure when they won't get that. We want parents and players to have a real understanding of what gets U.S. coaches and colleges to notice them, that's why we endorse and trust Custom College Recruiting," says Potter.
Howard says that it's supremely important that players research how to get a U.S. college scholarship and to steer clear of anyone that makes promises or guarantees.
"I would say 99% of people have no idea how the college recruiting process works and can't really help. That's not to say that there aren't some of those people within New Zealand that do know something about it, I just think there are very few. That's why Basketball New Zealand invited us in a few years ago, to help ensure that families do not get taken advantage of."
Custom College Recruiting will be offering free seminars to anyone interested in basketball scholarships in the United States. To register attendance, go to ccrseminars.info