Welcome to Interview #127 with Coach Kelvin Jefferson. Coach Jefferson has incredible insights on attitude, character and Division 2 recruiting. He also provides high-level tips on how you can maximize your teen’s chance of being recruited.
Coach Jefferson is the head Men’s Basketball Coach at Gannon University. He has been the head coach at Gannon since 2019. Listen to this incredible coach who brings you the wisdom of 25 years of coaching, including 12 seasons as a Division 1 assistant and 8 years as an elite high school coach.
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen? If an athlete personally contacts you by phone or email, what will you do next?
The biggest mistakes recruits make when sending emails are incomplete information or grammatical and punctuation errors. I see so many emails where the prospect does not give a name or school. If you omit crucial information it is very likely you won’t get a response back.
I would suggest giving name, year of graduation, current school name, height, weight, and position as a good starting point. Sending a highlight tape is good but no good coach will offer a prospect without watching a full game. Finally, I would suggest addressing the coach appropriately and thanking him for his time.
What do recruits need to know about how and when Division 2 coaches can contact them?
I think every coach is different when it comes to the recruiting process. I use the resources that I have. Social media has been a great way to connect with prospects quickly and easily. Text messaging and phone calls are also very effective.
I think for prospects it is important that they keep their contact information current so they won’t lose possible recruiting opportunities.
What role does the Attitude and Character of an athlete have in their chances of being recruited?
Attitude and character are big factors when it comes to the prospects that I will recruit. In today’s world, there are a lot of very good players looking to get recruited. Not just domestically but internationally.
With so many good players available the separators are GPA, character, and attitude. There are a million six-foot guards so I do not have to settle for one that is not of high character and that will disrupt team chemistry.
When you go out and recruit what kind of events do you go to and why (high school games, showcases, etc.)?
My staff and I at Gannon want to see as many prospects as possible. So big AAU events are a big part of our recruiting travels. At these big events, we can see so many prospects under one roof. We want to cast a big net knowing that some prospects may not have an interest or that we may find that a prospect’s GPA, character, or style of play are not a fit for Gannon University.
Once we attend these major events then we as a staff can begin to narrow our list and really focus on a select group of recruits. It’s a process and fit is so important.
What are some tips you have for prospective student-athletes when they are going to attend a showcase event?
My best advice for prospects when going to play in any event is to control the controllables. The ball doesn’t always go in the basket and the refs are not always the best and these are things that are out of a prospect’s control. But what a player can do is control their effort and attitude. A player can always hustle and dive for loose balls. Unfortunately, most players let missed shots or bad calls control their effort. You can always play hard and give great effort. This is something that you can do regardless of your height or if you are an elite athlete or not.
How does a player know if they are a Division 2 athlete or if they should look toward another level of play?
Unfortunately recruiting is not an exact science and some players may get over-recruited and others under-recruited. But for the most part, prospects are usually recruited at the correct level. If you have played a lot and have been evaluated a lot and the schools that are recruiting you all compete at the same level then that is probably your right level. There are some great opportunities on all levels. Great coaches and highly competitive basketball. I encourage all players to respect the game by respecting all levels.
What should a recruit look for specifically on a campus visit?
I think a recruit should look for compatibility and comfort. Spend time with the players on the team and see if you have common interests. Get to know the head coach and his coaching style. A lot of time assistant coaches are developing relationships with prospects through the recruiting process. It is important that you find a head coach that you can trust and have a good relationship with. As players and coaches, we spend so much time with one another it is important that prospects get a good feeling about their future teammates and coaching staff.
What is the difference between the players who have a successful college career and those who make a college roster but never live up to their potential?
I think success is different for everyone. But for me, success is a player that graduates with a degree, an experience, and friends that have changed his or her life for the better. Most players are not going to the NBA so the experience is so important. Most players do not play another meaningful game after they graduate. Make the most of your experience and above all else get your degree!
What is college life like for a Division 2 athlete? What will day-to-day life look like? Can they be involved in activities outside of sports?
At Gannon University I try to bring my 12 years of Division 1 experience to this program. In addition to our workouts, we have a study hall and a strength coach that is awesome. We provide tutors to our players when needed. We do community service as a team and all sorts of team building and life skill exercises off the court.
I do encourage my players to be more than a Gannon University basketball player. Get involved with clubs and organizations. Meet people that have nothing to do with basketball. I want them to have a full college experience.
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes as they navigate the recruiting process?
My advice to all recruitable athletes is to enjoy the process. When being recruited is not fun and seems more like a chore than something to get excited about, then it is time to reevaluate things.
The other piece of advice is to take time to control the process. Never let the process interfere with family time or your studies.
To learn more about Coach Jefferson and Gannon Men’s Basketball, click here.
Next, check out Division II Athletic Scholarships.