I continue to see and hear both high school basketball players and their parents have a “I’ve got to play (NCAA) division 1 basketball” mentality. At the same time I see these players end up extremely unhappy because Division 1, wasn’t right for them.
When Junior College might be the better choice:
1. You are not a great student in high school. Many 2.5-3.0 GPA high school students find the transition to a junior college is much easier.
2. You are a drafted player who wasn’t drafted high enough to sign, but would like to play professional basketball. The junior college route allows the added flexibility to either signing or being re-drafted after both the freshman and senior seasons.
3. You are a potential draft pick, not drafted out of high school who wants the additional 2 years of draft eligibility.
4. You have a dream of playing at a Duke or a UConn, but your only offers are from lessor division 1 schools. By going to a junior college and proving yourself you may get the opportunity at the college you really wanted to play at.
The one thing that both the player and the parent needs to understand is that after 2 years at a junior college when you transfer to a division 1 college the final degree you receive says “Clemson” or “Arizona State”, and says nothing about the junior college.
Another issue may be dollars. Most division 1 schools (who have 11.7 scholarships for basketball) are forced to split the money between 30-35 players, leaving the player a large portion they are obligated to pay. With lower tuition costs and more scholarships (24) many times a junior college can offer 2 years free.
Two years free and then two years at 50% at a division 1 school is the equivalent of four years at 75%. That 25% per year can save you $20,000 or more.
Another reason to choose a JUCO is the potential for additional playing opportunity. As a Freshman you will also be competing against players more your own age.
While Junior College is a good option for many players it is not right for everyone. The 3.5 – 4.0 student who is able to attend a Duke or Notre Dame would be foolish to consider a junior college, as these top academic schools usually do not consider JUCO transfers.
Whatever the choice the one thing you need to remember is that it is the right choice.