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January 6, 2020

Recruiting Horror Stories by LRT Sports™| My Dad Blew My Basketball Chances for Northwestern

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James shoots hoops for DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. But before becoming a Blue Demon basketball player, there was a possibility he wouldn’t have even played college basketball. And it wasn’t because of anything he did. His father’s actions and temper cost James a scholarship. Here is Jake’ Recruiting Horror Story, and it’s not pretty. 

A few things to touch upon before continuing this Recruiting Horror Story. 

  • James was not a high ranked recruit. He had a couple of offers, but most of them were to lower-level Division I schools. 
  • James was receiving scholarship money from these schools
  • James wanted to stay close to home, that’s why he was looking at schools in the Chicago Area. 
  • James’ dad was always super involved in his basketball career, not so great.

On his first visit to Northwestern, another school near Chicago, James, and his father met with the entire coaching staff. The Northwestern coaches had already discussed the idea of offering James a scholarship to play basketball, but they wanted to have a meeting to make sure that James was the right fit for their team. James, a kind and respectful man, earned straight A’s, never disrespected his parents, coaches or teachers and never forgot to say please and thank you. Besides his great character, he was an incredible team player, he worked hard on his basketball skills and was coachable. Unfortunately, Jame’s dad was present at the coach’s meeting. And if he had not been, it’s entirely possible that Northwestern would’ve offered him a scholarship. But that was not the case. 

James’ father joined the meeting between James and the NWU coaches and commandeered the meeting, much to his son’s distress. Jame’s dad’s primary goal was to push for a scholarship offer from one of the most prestigious schools in the country. Perhaps not the best way to go about getting a basketball scholarship from a college, or winning over a coach. 

James’ dad was not happy with what the coaches were offering, so he became more demanding and pushy. His voice rose in a manner that he should not have, he insisted that his son be a starter his freshman year and he demanded that his son get a full-ride. 

He behaved as if his son was the best player in the league. As the meeting was wrapping up, the coaching staff informed James that they would call him later on in the week to let him know whether or not they intend to continue the recruiting process with him. James was not sure, but being so young trusted that his dad was making all the right moves. He thought that the meeting went well. He was excited at the prospect of playing for Northwestern. The coaches, on the other hand, knew that they could not invest in a recruit who’s dad was so demanding. And let’s face it; he was not even on the team. Can you imagine?  

Later in the week, the family received a phone call. It was the Northwestern coaches, calling him with sad news. “Hey James, so after some deliberation, we have decided we’re going to move in a different direction. We’re sorry and wish you the best of luck.” James hung up, extremely confused about what had just happened. He thought the meeting went great. He was polite; he expressed his desires and told the coaches he was willing to do whatever they needed for the team. What could it have been? Then, after much contemplation, James ran through the entire meeting in his head again and he talked to some other athletes about how the meeting had gone. It was his dad! His dad had been too demanding and he pushed the coaches too much. His father had cost him a scholarship offer to Northwestern. 

“I think I was a little too involved, and ultimately, that hurt my son,” James’s dad said.  “If I could do it all again, I wouldn’t say a word; maybe things would be different,” he expressed regretfully.

Coaches do not want to hear from parents. They want to hear from the recruits. Coaches want to know that potential recruits are adult enough to speak for themselves and make decisions on their own. Parents, know your boundaries when it comes to the recruiting process.

Edited by Caroline Kurdej

YOUR JOURNEY STARTS HERE