Welcome to Interview #4.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of longtime NAIA Men’s Assistant Basketball Coach, Chris Starks of Lindsey Wilson College. Starks has helped the Blue Raiders to seven NAIA National Tournaments — reaching one semifinal and two national quarterfinals. He also helped lead the program to its only No. 1 national ranking during the 2003-04 season. In addition to his coaching duties, Starks serves as the program’s recruiting coordinator.
Coach Starks has been a college coach since 1992. Without over two decades of recruiting young men to play college basketball, pay attention to what Coach Starks has to say about the recruiting process.
Where do NAIA men’s basketball coaches most often find players for their teams ?
Locally, nationally (HS/JUCO/D1 TRANSFERS), internationally.
What would a timeline look like for your recruiting of a typical player? What kind of communication do you send out and when?
Typically we like to identify the traditional recruit during their junior season and actively recruit them during the summer and throughout their senior season.
NAIA institutions are smaller and more intimate compared to larger NCAA schools. I believe at NAIA schools a student-athlete is exactly that… a student-athlete. Afforded a much more rounded educational experience.
What can or should high school athletes do from their end to get on your radar screen?
Be seen, somehow get on campus and be seen by the coach. Anymore, we are flooded with emails that are just impossible to answer in a timely manner. Good old fashion mail and actually somehow getting on campus are the best bets.
At what point is your recruiting class done? When is it too late for a player to be thinking they will be recruited by a NAIA basketball program?
We usually wrap up recruiting by the end of May. There are always exceptions at the NAIA level. I would say that elusive D1 transfer.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what the athletic scholarship break down looks like on your roster? How many players are typically on your roster and how does this affect how much each player receives?
We usually carry 15-16 players. We can only give full scholarships or they are considered a walk-on. We can’t stack money.
How much scholarship money does the average player on your team receive?
Talk about JV basketball in your program.
JV recruits get scholarships based on need only. They are very important in the grand scheme of things since they enable our varsity to be fully funded. We run our JV program separate from our varsity, but use it as a “feeder program” for our Varsity. We play a 20 game schedule against very good competition.
Should a basketball player personally contact you by phone or email, what will you do next if you are contacted by a high school athlete?
It doesn’t really matter, but I would prefer email. Once I am contacted, I will immediately do some quick research to see if their information is valid and proceed by contacting them back if the information has been verified.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
Any role that they want to play in the process.
What does the offseason, spring season and summer look like for a NAIA basketball player?
The NAIA basketball season is so long and grueling that we scale it back quite a bit in the offseason. We specifically focus on getting physically stronger and play some pick-up when we have student-athletes visiting our campus. The summer we leave for them to decide. Most go home unless they need to stay and do some extra course work.
Talk about any NAIA restrictions as they apply.
NAIA restrictions are very minimal compared to the NCAA rules.
Talk about time commitments.
Our players’ days are pretty well planned out for them. Classes during the mornings, practice in afternoon, study hall at night. Not much down time.
How do academics and athletics fit together?
At our institution academics come first. Athletics are secondary.
What are the academic challenges?
Making sure that our players and even the faculty know that academics come first when we are missing school for games, etc.
Talk about how players can or are successful in the classroom.
It is easy… go to class, smile and let the instructor know that you want to be there.
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?
Enjoy the recruiting process. It is a special time in your life.
Profile: Coach Chris Starks begins his 13th season as Lindsey Wilson’s men’s varsity assistant and head junior varsity coach in 2014-15.
During his time on the Lindsey Wilson men’s basketball coaching staff, Starks has helped the Blue Raiders win three Mid-South Conference regular season and tournament titles and reach the 30-win plateau three times.
Next, take a look at What is the NAIA?
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