Top 13 Reasons Basketball Players Go to Junior College First

It’s more than just a backup plan! There are many reasons basketball players go to Junior College first. NJCAA Junior College’s (a.k.a. JUCO’s) serve a great purpose for many student-athletes.

Junior College in the United States of America is an option for players who have graduated from high school to go and continue their higher education. They typically offer vocational training which are courses designed to prepare you for either skilled trades, technical based jobs and get you ready to enter professions in areas such as: nursing, medicine, engineering, accountancy, business administration, architecture and criminology. You can also attend to gain additional education and meet the grade requirements for you to go to another college at the end of the 2 years. Student-athletes typically attend junior colleges for one to two years.

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Who is Junior College (JUCO) for?

    • Junior college is for players who need more time to develop as students (you can get your grades up & improve your academics)
    • It is a good option for students who need more time to develop as athletes
    • It helps players who are in a particular financial situation
    • It’s a good preparation step for players who aren’t ready for a 4-year university just yetIt offers older players who are looking to get back into continuing their higher education or are looking for a new career path

Top 13 Reasons Players Go to Junior College (JUCO) First:

Let’s take a look at the main reasons players like yourself may choose to go to Junior College first instead of going to attend a 4 year school immediately after just graduating from high school:

1. PLAYING TIME: The biggest reason to go to a junior college is to be able to get playing time as a freshman IMMEDIATELY! At  a 4-year college, many athletes spend their freshmen & sophomore years being groomed for positions, receiving only small amounts of playing time or no playing time at all in their first couple of years. Junior Colleges typically have smaller rosters than 4 year schools too which is another factor into you getting more playing time.

INFO: Many NCAA D1 & D2 schools give JUCO’s some serious look’s for players to attend their programs.

2 .DEVELOPMENT: There are two kinds of development needed by players who typically choose to go to JUCO, these are athletic and educational. Some players need to develop in the classroom to have a chance to play at the NCAA level & some players need to develop on the court to reach the NCAA level. Having those extra two developmental years can turn a D2 athlete into a D1 recruit! Playing time is the best way to develop because without actual game time, development is limited. Because you’ll get more playing time you can prepare yourself for 4-year school and position yourself for better opportunities to present themselves.

INFO: The development at a NJCAA school is just as good as a junior varsity program at an NAIA school

3. LEVEL PLAYING FIELD: Physically, many players are not ready to compete at four-year schools. Players who attend a JUCO are similar age which means you & your team-mates are closer to each other’s physical development. This makes a difference. There is massive difference between freshman & seniors who play on the same team in terms of time invested in talent development, as well as physical, mental, & emotional maturity.

4. ACADEMIC REDEMPTION: If you have low high school grades and/or low SAT/ACT score you have two years to mature and become a better student. When transferring from junior college, 4 year schools tend to focus on your junior college transcripts & GPA (not what you did in HS) which can improve the amount of scholarship you may receive from a school and have options you wouldn’t otherwise have got.

INFO: Colleges have different/separate financial-aid-package standards for junior college transfers than they do for incoming freshmen.

5. A GREAT STEPPING-STONE: Two years at JUCO can help you get recruited to a higher level than you could have got coming straight out of high school.  It will sharpen your skills, improve game performance, you’ll make gains lifting weights & massively improve your fitness level. You have the time to become a much better athlete! In turn, you can get noticed by bigger, better schools and Coaches at the NCAA level. They will know you can handle balancing basketball training with your academics.

TIP: Look out for schools that offer articulation agreements – these provide specific policies that make it easier to transfer and enable you to keep your credit hours.

TIP: Have a solid relationship with your junior college academic adviser, they can be your biggest ally when transferring to a 4-year school.

6. DIFFERENT ELIGIBILITY STANDARDS: JUCO’s do not have the same eligibility standards as the NCAA & NAIA but you do still need to maintain certain grades to be eligible to continue competing at the JUCO level.

7. SMALL CLASS SIZE: At a Junior College they have a more one-to-one approach and more playing time availability.  Many players thrive in this 2-year athletic model and go on to have solid careers at a 4-year school. If you are really dedicated to your personal development, you can take advantage of the one-one attention and seriously improve your game and your academics.

INFO: Typically, players find that most JUCO’s they want to attend are close to home which can be an advantage for players and their families alike.

8.STILL COME OUT WITH A DEGREE: Two years at a JUCO will give you an associate’s degree whether you decide to go onto a 4-year school or not you’ll finish with a 2-year college degree!

9. MORE TIME: With JUCO you get two more years to decide what you really want to study. You have additional time to figure it out while getting your core subjects out of the way.

10. .UTILIZE THE NETWORK: Some JUCO coaches may have good networks with 4-year schools. You should talk and get to know your JUCO coach and take advantage of his connections and experience in helping place players in a 4-year school.

11. MAKES FINANCIAL SENSE: Financially JUCO’s are a very good option because they offer lower tuition and some can even offer scholarships. Some states offer free or greatly reduced cost to attend their school. D1 JUCOs can award full scholarships.

INFO: The NJCAA does not require schools to offer fully funded scholarships to players. This means, the amount & the number of JUCO athletic scholarships can vary greatly.

12. QUALITY PROGRAMS: Surprising to some, JUCO’s can have bigger crowds at games, even when compared to some NCAA or NAIA universities.

13. NO YEAR OFF: Going to JUCO is a better option than taking a year off because it is much harder to get recruited to a 4-year school after taking 1 year off from competing. Taking a year off will put you at a disadvantage. Going to JUCO will only give you an advantage.

REMEMBER: There are still no guarantees of playing time and JUCO’s are still VERY competitive programs

Here’s a list of some NBA players who made it playing at JUCO:

  • Jimmy Butler
  • Dennis Rodman
  • Larry Johnson
  • Mookie Blaylock
  • Spencer Haywood
  • Nate Archibald
  • Ben Wallace
  • Sidney Wicks
  • John Starks
  • Shawn Marion … to name just a few!

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Here you can access the most up-to-date college basketball openings from college coaches looking for players to fill roster spots

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