Welcome to Interview #54.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of NCAA Division 1 Men’s Associate Head Coach of New Mexico State University, Paul Weir.
To say Coach Weir understands recruiting is an understatement. New Mexico State basketball is successful year after year because they know how to find young men of both talent and character.
Paul Weir has been with the New Mexico State basketball program for 10 years and has served in the role of associate head coach since July of 2011. He has helped the Aggies to WAC Tournament Championships in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 and five subsequent NCAA Tournament appearances.
Weir is in charge of recruiting, scouting, scheduling, and assists in fundraising and media efforts around the program. He also was a guest speaker at the Dan Tudor National Recruiting Conference in June 2015.
What are some ways that recruits can get you to take an interest in them?
Recruiting often lies in the ‘eye of the beholder’. Each coach, or recruiter, has their own lenses and biases when it comes to evaluating Prospective Student Athletes (PSA’s). Length, particular skills, background, program, body language, I could go on and on with the potential variables that can come into play with each coach-recruit interaction.
Instead of wrestling with that Gordian Knot – I think a recruit needs to be as genuine as they can be throughout the process, both on and off the court, in order to find a great match. Going to college is a tremendously important decision and authenticity on both sides is critical to the fruitfulness for everyone involved.
How early do athletes need to be noticed to have a chance to play at a Division 1 school? When is it too late?
It is never too late. Some programs choose to evaluate and demonstrate interest in PSA’s early, some will do it later on in the process. The bottom line is that each program is going to do what they feel is in the best interests of their organization at that given time. If they feel the PSA can have a meaningful impact they will pursue that individual when they feel most inclined to do so.
Given the changing nature of our profession and the incredible amount of turnover both in coaches and transfers, recruiting is a much more short-term enterprise and happening on a later time frame than even just a few years ago. Feeling that you have to sign or be committed in the fall of your senior year of HS or sophomore year of JC is becoming less and less frequent.
What are a few of the most common mistakes that prospective-student athletes make in the NCAA College recruiting process?
Again, every coach is different and has their own guiding principles. For me, it would be dishonesty. Being untruthful about academics, maybe an incident that happened in your past, who is recruiting you, those are the types of things that are worrisome to me.
We all understand that given the circumstances, one may feel they need to cover something up or hide mistakes but it sends a really bad message the other way. If you made a mistake that is out there – own it if asked about it. Talk about what you learned from it. If you don’t have a scholarship offer from a particular school – don’t say that you do. Those are things that for me can create issues that are difficult to get past.
What are important things recruits should know about preparing and sending video to college coaches?
Coaches in our program receive hundreds of emails a week from PSA’s, their parents, coaches, and so on. Sometimes a witty subject heading or introduction will attract me into reading on, but most of the time these will get a quick read and then just deleted.
If there is a video clip with easy access (no additional logins, commercials, forwarding to certain times, etc.) then they will usually be watched. As long as that clip is short, gets to the point, and the PSA is of interest – then it gets to the next step. If not, there is nothing else you could have done. No matter how hard you work at this process there is little control in being wanted back (or not) based on preparing and sending materials.
How do you use social media when recruiting? What is your advice to recruits about social media?
If our recruiting gets to the next step it will involve looking at a PSA’s social media. In some instances, we will need to find you on social media to initiate contact. So obviously you want all your pages to be clean, appropriate, and reflect the type of young man a coach would want in their program. We expect our current Student Athletes (SA’s) to be professional on their pages and would expect nothing less from a recruit.
A lot of recruits get confused by which coach is recruiting them and what that means? Can you talk about roles and interactions recruits can expect from assistants and the head coach during the recruiting process?
I think a recurring theme in my thoughts here is that every program is different. Some programs give their assistant coaches a lot of latitude when it comes to recruiting and signing PSA’s and others are very limited in their authorities. Within the assistant coaches at a particular school there may also be a hierarchy as far as which coaches have more influence in recruiting than others. So you may be talking to an assistant coach that is influential (or not) in their decision making processes.
Finally, each head coach is different. Some are very involved in recruiting themselves and take on the top targets personally while others are quite removed and only embroil themselves at the final hour. Each PSA can expect a plethora of varying dynamics across different programs. You want to be able to understand the ones at the programs you are interested in so you can navigate it effectively.
Should prospective athletes bring up scholarships with coaches or wait on the coach to initiate that discussion?
Transparency from both sides can only be helpful. If the coaches have not communicated enough for you to understand, then I think you should be open about asking. There is nothing wrong with knowing where you stand and if the coach is not willing to tell you then that may be telling of many things.
What are the most important issues you discuss with a recruit and their family when they are on campus?
The most important issues for us are the ones that are most pivotal to that PSA and his family. Again, each one is different. For some it may be an academic program or access to tutors while for another it may be the living situation or the strength and conditioning program.
There are a myriad of considerations for each individual recruiting relationship and we try to do our best to understand those and then present them in the most transparent way we can so that they can make the best decision possible.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
The role of the parent is situational. Whether it is a one or two parent home, traditional or blended family, how involved they want to be in the process, are all things both sides have to navigate through. Again, I think transparency and authenticity in all of this makes for a much happier marriage in the long run. While some parents can scare off coaches by being too involved and/or overbearing, there is no point in hiding it if they are only going to reveal those behaviors later.
Now I want to turn the interview a bit more personal. Can you tell us how meeting the demand of collegiate athletics prepared you for your life after college?
I have loved sports and competing in them my entire life. I spent an unbelievable amount of time committed to those endeavors and in particular, basketball.
After college you realize that the work ethic, perseverance, the striving for perfection are all valuable tools that are just as effective in the real world. Learning how to apply them in appropriate ways may take some time but you have some core strengths that immediately separate yourself from your new competition.
What gives you the most joy or satisfaction as a coach?
This would be an incredibly long answer, much too long for this interview. Teaching the technical part of the game is very important to me, and one I take great pride in. So seeing improvement there and eventual success on the court is very meaningful to me.
To see the individual development and growth of young men is by far the most satisfying. You try to mentor and provide opportunities for learning every day in hopes that they mature into young adults. On the occasions that you see this growth it is very fulfilling knowing that you influenced someone’s life. Basketball is only temporary for all of us. So instances like that transcend everything.
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes or basketball players in particular as they navigate the recruiting process?
Just be you. Work hard. Don’t make excuses. And have a lot of fun.
Next, take a look No Fear of the Recruiting Process: 2 Tips
Paul Weir has been with the New Mexico State basketball program for 10 years and has served in the role of associate head coach since July of 2011. Weir is in charge of recruiting, scouting, scheduling, and assists in fundraising and media efforts around the program.
He has helped the Aggies to WAC Tournament Championships in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 and five subsequent NCAA Tournament appearances. The Aggies won the 2015 WAC Championship by five games after claiming their first WAC regular season title in 2008. Overall, NM State has collected WAC titles in five of his eight years with the program.
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