What the scouts are ACTUALLY looking for

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I remember like it was yesterday. My coach came into the locker room senior year and took me and a few of other stars aside. He simply said, “guys… there are scouts here. Execute to perfection, and you may find yourself a home next year.” It was stressful, but it also left me wondering, what does a scout even want to see?  In today’s ultra completive high school sports scene, we are often asked how do you differentiate yourself from your competitors. We no longer live in a time where area matters, players in Vancouver are not limited to playing for UBC, SFU or UVIC. Instead, you can travel to the AUS or OUA, it all depends on who has eyes on you, and the fit for the school.  It is your time to shine, and here are three things that Scouts are looking for.

1)    Your off the ball/puck/insert sports ball here play

Let’s use basketball for this example. If you are shooting the lights out of your city championship, eyes will be on you. But scouts are not that interested in seeing how many points you are going to put up. They want to see if you are taking high percentage looks with the ball, but more importantly, where you position yourself when you are not handling the rock. Are you opening up lanes for teammates, or setting yourself up for a great shot. On the other side of the floor, are you able to actually defend, and can you deal with mismatches and picks? The next level is going to be intense, and if you want to end up at a powerhouse such as Carleton, you will need to be good with and without the ball. Scouts have been looking at high school players for years, and a guard or forward with great basketball IQ on offence and defence is going to be able to play at the next level, while a great shooter might not.


2)    Your work ethic in practice

We can all think of the clip of Allen Iverson’s rant on practice, but unlike the pros, college scouts are actually interested in your work ethic in practice. No matter if you play a solo sport or team sport, your coach is going to be asked about how hard you practice. As well, if a school has the budget, they will not only come to your games but your practices as well. Practice is an important part of analysing a player, as it will show their commitment to the sport, and their ability to be coached. If you are moving up a level the competition gets tighter and you will need to be able to complete more complicated plays and schemes. Thus, coachability is a huge part of why a team will offer a spot for you or not.


3)    Grades

No, we are not kidding, grades are something that scouts are constantly looking for. Unlike to the South, CIS student-athletes must maintain a passing grade, and academics truly come first. When it comes to your grades, scouts are going to want to know if you are going to struggle at the university level, or if you are going to be able to balance grades and sports. If you play a Spring sport, then you get some time to adjust, but those playing in the Fall will have to dive head first into sports and the books, and it can overwhelming for some. A scout is going to look at your grades, and call your teachers, be good on the academic side and you will be good at the next level.

Scouts are creatures of habit, and as scouting has become more nationally focused, scouts have moved to focus on these three things to look for in a player. Their off the ball play, their work ethic in practice, and their grades. If you are able to showcase you have an ability to ace these three subjects, then you will be well on your way to a successful CIS career.

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