What Are The Odds of Playing College Basketball?
According to the website playcollegebasketball.org, there are some really daunting numbers flashed on the screen. However, if we really look at the true odds of playing college basketball it is much higher than the 3.76% we see plastered across websites far and wide. Another stat we see is that 7% of all HS athletes go on to play college athletics. Often times, this creates a narrative that athletes shouldn't take athletics too seriously, because the odds are not in their favor. While this may be the case in most instances - there are other factors at play, here.
According to NCAA.org, there are:
Those that advance to the next level include:
That equates to just 3.76% of high school athletes advancing to the college ranks.
Why Such A Low Number?
Let's take that number into consideration for the sake of this conversation. That number equals just 3 out of every 100 basketball players are going to play in college. Let's take the average varsity squad for a moment. There are roughly 10-12 players on the varsity squad. Every conference has an average of 10 teams. That simply means that each conference will advance 3 players to participate in college basketball. That number doesn't look too far fetched now.
Let's take an even deeper dive.
Looking At The Off-Season
Let's look at the off-season. How many players are doing daily workouts, putting up daily shots, doing daily ball-handling drills, playing in daily pick-up games, or working on their game every single day?
The chances are, you'll see roughly 4% of those athletes working on their game. You may see 10% working on their game every other day, 2-3x a week, they're doing open gyms, private workouts, or group workout sessions.
These athletes are not part of the 4%
The 4% are those that are doing the 6 Things Great Players Do All Year Long.
The College Scholarship Landscape
What does it look like for possible college basketball scholarships?
Division I Team Scholarships- 13 Scholarships
Division I Women's Teams - 358
Division I Mens' Teams - 358
Total Scholarships = 9,308
Division II Team Scholarships - 10 Scholarships
Division II Women's Teams - 300
Division II Mens' Teams - 300
Total Scholarships = 6,000
NAIA Team Scholarships - 8 Scholarships
NAIA Women's Teams - 250
NAIA Mens' Teams - 250
Total Scholarships = 4,000
Total Scholarship Opportunities = 19,308
Total College Basketball Players = 35,325.00
Playing The Numbers Game
Playing at the next level is truly a numbers game. There are a wide range of factors that come into play, and those include:
If you look through the summer circuit tournaments, there are roughly 40 teams with 10 players, accounting for roughly 400 players in a gym on any given Saturday. You could watch these games and identify 16 players that are the top performers. That's your 4%. They're the athletes that are putting in the work beyond team practices, team events, and open gym sessions. They're doing getting in daily touches, and extra court time.
Experience Attending Showcases and Expos
In the summer of 2022, we participated in 4 events, which you can read about in the Rising Stars Athlete Attends Multiple Showcase Events article. In the first event, WSN Showcase, we saw 107 girls in grade 9, all the way up to 12. In the 2026 class, there were only 11 girls. The next event, the Freshman Showcase, there were 73 girls from 3 states with 5 from Wisconsin. Those 5 were the same ones from the WSN Showcase. In the ExactSports Invitational, there were just 4 girls in the class of 2026. The Top 250 included the same 11 girls in the class of 2026. These 11 Class of 2026 girls from Wisconsin are already getting eyes on their game. While this is no guarantee, these are prime opportunities to get in front of college coaches, recruiters and sports writers. Again, these events are low-hanging-fruit for college programs to identify a couple of athletes that would fit their program(s).
If we play with that 4% number, these girls are likely the 4% that will make it to the next level, based on the total number of female basketball players in the class of 2026.
While none of these are guaranteed to get you a scholarship, they do help move you into the Top 4% of athletes that earn an opportunity to play at the next level on scholarship.
Rising Stars Basketball