Basketball players are usually contacted by college recruiters while they are in high school. In some cases, they are contacted even earlier. In order to be seen by most recruiters, players must usually attend Division I NCAA basketball colleges. About 3 percent of all male and female high school basketball players will play at the NCAA college level. Of these, about 1.5 percent of males and 1 percent of females will be drafted by an NBA or WNBA team.
Participate in your sport of choice in high school. Don’t sign with a team or an agent prior to graduating from high school or college. Doing so could lead to being disqualified from participating in the pros and it could lead to sanctions by the NCAA. Hone your basketball skills. Remember, becoming a professional basketball player takes discipline and high degrees of skill. Competition for positions on pro teams is extremely intense.
Compete in basketball games and in informal leagues on a regular basis. Attending college will not only provide a good education for something to fall back when your playing days end, but it will keep you conditioned and assist in improving your basketball skills. If you need to do so, apply for financial aid to attend college. Also, you could qualify for an athletic scholarship from a college or university. Start researching and preparing for college attendance as early as possible.
Submit media kits to scouts and teams. A basic media package contains (at a minimum) professional photographs, both on and off the field (preferably 8” x 10”), resumé, newspaper and magazine clippings in which you appear or were written about and a DVD showing your playing skills in action.
Participate in the league’s draft system, if appropriate. To qualify for draft consideration, you may be required to send a notice of availability for the draft to the NBA or other appropriate league draft office.
Contact minor leagues, foreign leagues and the Harlem Globetrotters or Harlem Ambassadors (relatively new) exhibition teams for a try out. Bring your own water and media kits to the try out. If your agent can attend, that’s even better. Be on your best behavior and act professionally. Try outs are serious business.
Review the actual and average salaries of players of your caliber. The minimum annual salary of NBA players for the 2003-2004 season was $367,000 for rookies and $1,070,000 for players with ten or more years of play in the NBA. The average pay was $4,540,000 per year. During that same period, the minimum player salary for rookies in the WNBA was $30,000 and $42,000 for veteran players. Players in the USBL earned between $400 and $500 per week during that same time period.
Even the best professional basketball players should get a good education before going pro.
Players who do not get a college degree are often preyed upon by unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of the player’s lack of education.