List of Top Academic Scholarship-Level Basketball Universities

The percentage of scholarship-level basketball players worldwide is very small. Most of those will not be recruited by the big-time D1 conferences, or will be D2 recruits. Players looking for the highest rated educational institutions at the scholarship level are often unaware of what is a relatively small list of choices. Excluding the power conferences, here is the list:


Division 1

It’s a given that the Ivy League and Patriot League are the two leagues with the best academic ranking.

  1. Ivy League (8 schools – Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale)
  2. Patriot League (10 schools – American, Army, Boston University, Bucknell, Colgate, Lafayette, Lehigh, Holy Cross, Loyola (MD), Navy)

Here are the remainder of the schools, outside the power conferences, based on rankings used in the Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges.

  • Air Force
  • Binghamton
  • Bryant
  • Davidson
  • Denver
  • Elon
  • Fordham
  • Furman
  • George Washington
  • Gonzaga
  • Mercer
  • Miami University (OH)
  • Northeastern
  • Richmond
  • Pepperdine
  • Rice
  • Santa Clara
  • Stony Brook
  • Tulane
  • Tulsa
  • UC Davis
  • UC Santa Barbara
  • UC Irvine
  • University of San Diego
  • William & Mary
  • Wofford

The total is approximately 44 (the case can be made for adding or subtracting one or two) out of about 268, or 16%.


Division 2

Finding an education at the Division 2 level with the same ranking is very challenging. Here’s the short list:

  • Bentley
  • Grand Valley St.
  • Hillsdale
  • Le Moyne
  • Mich. Tech
  • NYIT
  • Northern Michigan
  • Pace
  • St. Michael’s
  • Stonehill
  • University of the Sciences




Overwhelmed by the Recruiting Process? Focus on Education First

I returned recently from a major east coast summer basketball camp where I had a lengthy discussion about the recruiting process with the mother of a talented junior. Her son is a good student who already holds offers from D1 schools, none of them big-time. A single mom with two kids who never went to college and never played sports, she told me she has little awareness of colleges or basketball programs. Working two jobs (they are a low income family) leaves her precious little time to deal with the recruiting process. I told her I’d had a conversation at the camp with a coach who said she was not returning his calls. She acknowledged that was a problem and said she feels overwhelmed by all the attention. “There are so many schools”, she said, “how do I handle this”?

The answer is simple, although a surprisingly large number of families never figure it out. Start with the schools offering the most highly rated educations. (See separate blog showing list). This quickly shrinks the list while having the added benefit of keeping priorities straight, often next to impossible in this process, even for those who are good at it. Focusing on the top-rated academic schools cuts the number of possible schools from approximately 265 (outside the big-time basketball conferences) to about 45, while maintaining priorities. For most, only about half of those 45 will actually show recruiting interest. Now the list is manageable and efficient, goals are intact and focus is tight. The chance of success has increased greatly.



Picking Prep Schools: When to Get Help? Understanding the Timeline and Whom to Trust.

I received a call from a family whom I had been recommended to by a previous client. By the time they contacted me, they had already communicated with some prep schools. They also were getting help from one of their child’s coaches, as well as a friend who had been through the process before. As a result, they felt they had a good list of schools and decided they didn’t need my help at that time. They did leave the door open to hiring me later, in the event they needed help with the financial part of the process.

When they called me a few months later, their son had been rejected at the school that was their first choice. They were stunned. They shared with me that they had come to realize that, having no experience at this, they had misinterpreted the feedback they had been getting from the coach at that school and had overvalued the help they’d been receiving from friends and others. Compounding the problem, they assumed they were going to get into their first choice and made little effort with the other two schools they had considered. They were upset and looking for answers.

We talked about applying to other schools, but by this time most other schools had filled their spots and handed out their financial aid. Schools that would have been good options a few months prior no longer were. In addition, they told me after what they’d already been through in this process they didn’t have the emotional energy to start over with new schools. Consequently, this family was forced to choose from a very limited list of schools, most of which they wouldn’t have otherwise found acceptable, and/or, lacking options and leverage, pay $5,000 – $15,000 more than they would have.