Basketball is a game full of words with four letters, pass, shot,turn, face, look, jump, fast, slow, down and team to name a few. Understanding the importance of each of these words is an important part of a players' development. There are two, three letter words which most players in Puerto Rico know very little about, SAT and ACT. With over 20 thousand youth basketball players who play in leagues year round I'm not sure I have seen a player, parent, coach or club dedicate any substantial time to making sure players understand the importance of the SAT and ACT as it relates to the development of players.
In the 5 plus years we have been immersed in the youth basketball game we have witnessed countless numbers of players who are good enough to obtain a scholarship to a college or university in the states but never get a chance to leave because of two, three letter words, SAT and ACT. This is a very sad and unfortunate thing given how much time and money parents
invest in the game. From when a child is 5-6 years old parents invest an incredible amount of time and money in apparel, shoes, trainers, camps, clinics and other basketball related events yet very few look at the "end game". What is my son or daughter getting out of this investment? The answer for many is a pipe dream. Far to many parents think their son is going to be the next BSN All Star or worse yet there are some parents who are so out of touch with reality that they think their son is going to be the next Carlos Arroyo or JJ Barea.
This misguided way of thinking and the failure of many in the game who have access to kids at an early age and could be a real positive influence on the future of urban kids in PR who play not only basketball but all youth sports must be reminded that the greatest gift a parent, mentor or coach can give a child is a great education.
Kids ask us all the time what they should be doing to get a scholarship to college. They ask me what drills should they do to work on their weak hand and how do they improve their vertical leaping ability. My response is get into a "SAT and ACT development program"! The look on many of the players and parents faces is comical and sad at the same time.
For those of you who still have not stopped and googled what the SAT and ACT are its pretty simple. Both the SAT and ACT are standardized tests which determine the ability of a student athlete to do college level academic work. Both tests are culturally biased and unfair but that is a completely different argument which we will save for another time. Failure to obtain a minimum score on either test will prevent a player from being offered a scholarship to a four year college or university thus preventing many players from changing the course of his/her life by obtaining a quality free education in the states.
We've heard the arguments which are true about there being many great colleges locally add that is a fact but so many of the most talented players need a "change in venue" to succeed. You know the saying, the streets are watching and they are taking many of our most talented kids and forcing them to make choices about their lives that they wouldn't have to make if they were not stuck in environments where "the corner" is the best available option for a young man to " make it in life". So for far to many elite players the lure of the street and the block are far to attractive and intoxicating. Many forget about the dream they had as a kid to play college ball and decide to be street pharmacists rather than college students getting a free education at some of the best schools money can buy.
Below is a link the the NCAA site and a page which goes into great detail as to what is required academically for a student athlete to qualify for a scholarship. Every family who has a son in the 8th grade should be focusing on this and studying this as if it is part of the playbook.
Every club team and coach who has a talented player looking to play college ball has an obligation to make sure that the players start learning at an earlier age what is required obtain a scholarship. Noun, verb, math are also four letter words that are as important as shot, pass and dunk!
As my friends at the UNCF say, " A mind is a terrible thing to waste". See the link below.