It’s probably every high school basketball player’s dream to play for the NBA and participate in major basketball events, and NCAA Division 1 is usually a path to it. But, transferring from high school to college is a change few are fully prepared for. Therefore it is critical to learn what it takes to enter the race for the best basketball scholarships. After all, college basketball is a serious commitment that requires your undivided attention. It carries many challenges, and the most successful are the ones who understand how to handle them and use them to their advantage.

Given our mission, we organized a webinar with two renowned coaches, Cody Toppert and Ken McDonald. The two discussed the difference between the lifestyle of a college athlete and a high school athlete, the reasons for numerous annual transfers, and why students struggle to get Division 1 scholarship offers. It was an honor having the two with us on the webinar, as their expertise and experience can be of great help to young athletes at the beginning of their college basketball career.

Coach Toppert built a prolific career at the college and professional levels. He worked for Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, University of Memphis, and he’s currently a coach for LSU (Louisiana State University).

Coach McDonald is a former NCAA Division 1 Head Coach. He worked for the University of Texas, the University of Tennessee, and Western Kentucky. He was also the coach of the Spurs and US National Team.

College recruiting is a true emotional rollercoaster for a young athlete, regardless of his confidence. Of course, everyone aims for the best college scholarships, but numerous factors can determine the outcome. For that reason, coach Toppert shared one of the best recruiting tips anyone could give you:
‘’As you are evaluating your recruiting, go where you are wanted because that’s where there will be a plan for your success. If you have to beg your way to get onto the team, then more than likely you’re probably their last option, and that could negatively impact your development,’’ advises coach Toppert.

Coaches Toppert and McDonald also shared what it is like working with NBA players and what makes individuals, such as Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, such great athletes. Finally, the two gave valuable advice to young players looking to build a basketball career from high school to college.

If you find this topic interesting, keep reading or check out the entire webinar below.

What Is the Biggest Difference Between the USA Game and International Game Young Players Should Know?

‘’When people think of the US, that’s where basketball has been king. There are teams that go into the Olympics and usually win the Olympic gold medal without any problem. That is all changing because international players are every bit as good and gaining each year on American players.

America just had such a great head start in the game of basketball. But if you look at what’s happening in the NBA or college basketball, international players are making a huge impact on the game.

International players come with size, great fundamentals, and very good skills. And if you think about it, who are the best players in the NBA this year? Several of them are international players.’’

Must International Players Work on Their Defence to Have Easier Adjustments in the USA?

‘’Everything defensively starts with competitiveness. If you allow your opponent to score easily, that’s a real knock on your competitive spirit. So you have the feeling that when you get out on the court, you’re gonna make it as difficult as possible for your opponent to score.

The second part of the defence is being able to get yourself into a good, solid defensive stance. Without a good stance, you are not ready to react; you are not ready to move.

And then, anticipation. A lot of people say, ‘Well, you know, that guy is just a step slow defensively.’ Sometimes he is a step slow, but sometimes he is not able to anticipate what the next movement of his opponent is going to be.

You might be deficient in guarding a quick guy with a ball who can change speeds and directions very well. That’s difficult for any athlete. But there are a lot of things, regardless of your athleticism, that you are completely in control of defensively.’’

How Would You Describe a Typical High School/College Coach?

”Many times, a college coach or scout is looking for length and athleticism, and sometimes they get too focused on that and not enough on fundamentals, skills, competitiveness, and individual character.

But, they are looking for talent; they want to win. And how do you win? You get five really good basketball players on the floor; you teach them the fundamentals, to communicate, and play together.’’

What Does a Typical Day at DME Sports Academy Look Like for High School Athletes?

‘’You wake up from the dormitory, have breakfast, and come to the classroom. And you are in class for two hours. Maybe from 8 am to 10 am. You come out of the classroom, and you’ve got strength and conditioning, and our strength and conditioning guys are working with you on speed and agility.

You may go from there to the gym, and you have an individual skill development session in the gym. When you finish that, it’s time for lunch. After lunch, you are back in the classroom from 1 pm to 3 pm. At 3 pm, it’s time for your team practice. You are on the practice floor for the next two hours.

By the end of that time, you probably need half an hour after practice to go back to your room, shower, and relax before dinner. You have your dinner, and then we have a little study time for you so you can catch up on your studies.’’

How Tough Is It to Get Basketball Scholarships?

‘’I would take a step back from that and say: How tough is it to make a college team with or without a scholarship? There are four levels; there is a lot of scholarship and financial aid, and everybody wants it.

It’s not just Americans fighting for these scholarships; there are people from around the world. So you have to have yourself together as a player, as a person, but it can be done.’’

It was a pleasure having coach Panaggio on the webinar as he shared valuable insights from his fruitful career, which includes winning two championships with the Lakers. Coach Panaggio is also the owner and director of DME Sports Academy. Asked about what differentiates DME from other basketball academies, he says: ‘’If you want me to narrow it down to one thing, our kids have fun! When they come to DME Academy and spend a couple of years here, it’s the time of their life. They are meeting not only the athletes from the United States but they are meeting athletes and students from all around the world.

We’ve got kids from Asia, Europe, South America, and kids from the US. You are making friends and learning things about other cultures that you can bring with you the rest of your life.’’

We know how overwhelming it can be for high-school athletes to work on their play and look for the best colleges and sports scholarships. That’s why we launched Athlete+, a program designed to help you improve your skills and go through the college recruiting process as smoothly as possible.

Don’t give up your dreams! Athlete+ team is here to guide you in shaping them into goals you’ll successfully reach, finding basketball and academic programs (in the USA and abroad) that best fit you. Subscribe to our channel and follow us on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) to see us in action.