Organizations like The Skill Factory (TSF) attract basketball players of all ages, providing them with learning environments and dedicated academic support that allows for more flexible hours to put towards the development of their game.
“The goal is to take these kids with elite athletic skills and help them develop academically and athletically to reach their full potential,” says Jacob Morton, TSF Program Director – Prep and Post Grad.
While the on-court requirements to reach an elite level may seem straightforward, the only thing simple about the academic piece is that if you do not meet the NCAA and NAIA academic eligibility requirements, you will not be able to play at the top college level.
Enter: Honest Game – the missing piece for prep schools like TSF and the most valuable “assistant coach” you’ll ever hire.
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Honest Game Makes the Team at TSF
Honest Game is a tool that advises, strategizes and assesses the student-athlete eligibility process, while connecting them to credit recovery courses if necessary to meet NCAA and NAIA requirements and access available college athletic scholarships.
Before using Honest Game, TSF was simply doing their best to keep up with the changing NCAA and NAIA rules, often spending hours looking through transcripts to piece together tough puzzles to find answers for each specific student.
“Nobody on our staff is a compliance expert and the rules are constantly changing, not to mention that the NCAA does not make them easy to understand in the first place,” said Jacob. “Having the team at Honest Game that knows the rules, especially the intricate ones, has completely changed the outlook of the academic piece for our program. It gives us a sense of legitimacy and validity – we aren’t just a prep program taking kids out of high school, we are a program taking their academics seriously.”
Is it Really that Big of a Problem?
Nearly one million student-athletes are not on track to meet the NCAA academic eligibility requirements to play college athletics because of avoidable or recoverable errors.
Take post-grad Kam Johnson, for example. Coming out of high school, Kam had had multiple NCAA DI schools interested in him, but Kam was just shy of the 2.3 GPA requirement. Honest Game was able to identify two classes for Kam to retake that helped him reach that full NCAA D1 qualifier status. Two classes is a small price to pay for an athletic career at a top D1 school, and something that might not have been possible without the help of Honest Game.
Kaleb Walters recently committed to playing NCAA D1 basketball at Youngstown State. Before Honest Game, Kaleb’s transcript was a jumble of dead ends. After running what Honest Game calls a CAREⓇ Plan (College Athletic Report on Eligibility) to sort through Kaleb’s academic history, it was clear exactly which classes he needed to take in order to meet the academic eligibility requirements.
It Takes a Village that CARES
Honest Game has spoken with multiple families interested in attending TSF, showing that not all doors were closed to their collegiate basketball path. Courtney Rickard, Honest Game’s Senior Manager for College Success recently worked with the Zeising family as they were looking for a school for their son, RJ.
“I was able to examine his academic data to show exactly what steps he would need to take to play college basketball,” said Courtney. “After he and his parents could visualize a clear path to success, they felt confident that TSF had an academic plan in place to help RJ succeed.”
After receiving an Honest Game CARE® plan during initial conversations, the Zeising’s committed to playing with TSF.
“The sole reason that RJ and his family decided on TSF was because of the care and provision that Honest Game provided them,” said Jacob. “Being able to talk to parents in the recruitment process and assure them that we’ve got an academic partner that is going to laser focus on where their child stands in the classroom is key. Whether it’s good or bad, we are going to accurately show you where your child stands, and if their situation is fixable.”
TSF now runs CARE® plans for each and every student-athlete that comes through their door, regardless of what they think their current academic standing is. This also helps the coaching staff understand what level of college athletics they should be focused on, and where they will have the most opportunities both academically and athletically.
According to TSF, parents and students alike love receiving their CARE® plans since they are clear and easy to understand, and also paint an accurate picture with a detailed and personalized plan forward. Additionally, college recruiters can rest assured that they have verified academic data for student-athletes they aim to sign and offer scholarships.
The Big Win
In Jacob’s two seasons with TSF, he has seen at least 12 student-athletes sign scholarships to play at the collegiate level, including programs such as Georgia, VCU, Marshall, Xavier, and Iona, among others – none of which would have been possible without the help of Honest Game.
The best part of Honest Game, according to Jacob? “So many people focus on helping kids go DI, but Honest Game focuses on helping kids qualify – whether that’s NCAA D1, DII, DIII or NAIA. They are committed to helping kids of all levels, no matter what kind of athlete you are.”
Now, TSF coaches and staff are able to spend more time focusing on the development of each individual athlete, regardless of their ultimate goals and path, while knowing that the academic eligibility tracking is taken care of.
Click here to learn more about how you can make Honest Game part of your team.