Real Rec­og­nize Reel: What Bas­ket­ball Coach­es Look for in a High­light Video

Want to get noticed by col­lege coach­es? Tennessee’s video coor­di­na­tor breaks down what they search for.

Real Rec­og­nize Reel: What Bas­ket­ball Coach­es Look for in a High­light Video

Want to get noticed by col­lege coach­es? Tennessee’s video coor­di­na­tor breaks down what they search for.

Riley Davis, video coor­di­na­tor for the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ten­nessee men’s bas­ket­ball team, receives at least five high­light videos in his email inbox each day, – and those are the slow days. Often the num­ber of sub­mis­sions bal­loons to over 20, cre­at­ing a very busy work­load for one the mem­bers of Rick Barnes’ staff. Peo­ple like Davis don’t have that kind of spare time on their hands.

So if you want to make a mark with your high­light film and get their true atten­tion, you have to do it fast. Most days, Riley doesn’t have time to sift through a 10-minute video of your top moments. You have to show off your most impact­ful moments right off the bat.

The goal of the kid should be to say, Here’s what I can do. Now I’ve got you bait­ed. Now go watch a whole game,’” Riley said. 

Riley took some time to speak with us about what the top col­lege pro­grams are look­ing for when they watch a high­light video. Want to get noticed by the big boys? Heed this advice.

Show the Offense First

Of course col­leges are inter­est­ed in see­ing how a prospect can defend, rebound or pass the ball, and these skills will play an impor­tant role in get­ting recruit­ed. But first and fore­most, they want to see if you can get buck­ets — they’ll look into the rest later.

If they catch our atten­tion with (scor­ing), then we’ll go in and watch the full game and then we’ll see how hard they play, the lit­tle details and that stuff,” Riley said. I think the best way to catch someone’s eye is if I can see a kid can shoot.

You can catch my eye in 30 sec­onds. If I see a kid come down and hit a cou­ple 3s and I know he can han­dle the ball and I know he’s 6-foot-5, then I’m going to watch the full game.” Riley Davis, University of Tennessee basketball video coordinator

Check out this video by N’keal Har­ry. He starts off with a back­board-shat­ter­ing dunk, which cer­tain­ly grabs atten­tion. Then he fol­lows it up with footage of dri­ves and strong fin­ish­es (sev­er­al through con­tact), plus a slick 3-point­er to show­case his all-around game.

Some ath­letes, espe­cial­ly those who pride them­selves on defense and hus­tle, will lead off with clips of them div­ing for loose balls, sav­ing balls from going out of bounds and body­ing up an oppos­ing ball han­dler. Coach­es do want to see those skills, Riley said. But if they can’t put the ball in the buck­et, it’s going to be tough for them to make it at the col­lege level.

A lot of (the videos I receive) will be some inspir­ing kid that believes in the right stuff,” Riley said. He’s all about hus­tle and work eth­ic, and the high­light shows him div­ing on the floor or in a defen­sive stance, and all that stuff is very impor­tant. But we’d rather see the scor­ing first, then see if he does all that oth­er stuff. The kid could do the lit­tle stuff, but he could be a very poor offen­sive player.”

Cre­at­ing high­lights is a breeze with Hudl. You can either watch game video or eas­i­ly locate top moments using the sta­tis­tics tool. Once you find a play you like, the star icon becomes your best friend, mark­ing your top moments with a few sim­ple clicks.

Riley also rec­om­mend­ed includ­ing a title slide near the begin­ning with your height, weight, GPA and rel­e­vant stats. This gives coach­es a good idea of what they should look for before the video even begins. Keep it short.

And don’t for­get to use the spot shad­ow. Recruiters don’t want to hunt to find you in every clip. High­light your­self and make the video eas­i­er to watch.

Stick to Basketball

This may seem obvi­ous, but many ath­letes will include a slide with a quote from their high school coach or a local news­pa­per arti­cle at the begin­ning of their video. Some will show them­selves work­ing out in the weight room or on the track. Don’t do this.

If the coach­es watch your high­light and like what they see, they’ll do their research and find out about your char­ac­ter and lift­ing prowess. First and fore­most, they want to see that you can ball.

Riley brought up Kevin Durant, who played under Barnes at Texas and famous­ly failed to put up a sin­gle bench press rep of 185 pounds at the 2007 NBA Com­bine. That didn’t mat­ter — Durant became one of the best play­ers in the world.

We’re inter­est­ed in your char­ac­ter and things like that, but we’ll find that stuff out lat­er. We want to find out if you can play first,” Riley said. The most impor­tant thing you want to do is show your abil­i­ty to play bas­ket­ball with video.”

Share, Share, Share

Even the best video won’t get its due if peo­ple aren’t see­ing it. Shar­ing that video effec­tive­ly can be the dif­fer­ence between it going viral or falling into a black hole.

Accord­ing to Riley, email is the first step. Iden­ti­fy schools you’re inter­est­ed in — even bet­ter if they’ve shown inter­est in you — and email both coach­es and video coor­di­na­tors on the staff. Riley said he tries to watch at least a lit­tle bit of every video he receives directly.

Next, blast it out on social media. Tweet the high­light to coach­es. There’s no guar­an­tee they’ll see it, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Send it to local recruit­ing affil­i­ates, tal­ent eval­u­a­tors and respect­ed local coach­es, as well. If a video goes viral, there’s a much bet­ter chance coach­es will see it.

The thing about Twit­ter and social media is you can get some hype behind it,” Riley said. If I see a third par­ty tweet­ing it, I’m think­ing, OK, this isn’t com­ing from the kid. This obvi­ous­ly has some hype behind it, I’ll check it out.’”

This is part of the rea­son Jor­dan Bow­den end­ed up in Knoxville. The shoot­ing guard showed up on recruit­ing radars by show­ing off his aver­sion to grav­i­ty in a dunk-filled high­light.

Feel free to add music to take your video to the next lev­el. It won’t impress col­lege coach­es, who often watch videos on mute, but music can hype your high­light and might help it go viral.

Make sure your coach is shar­ing your high­lights as well. Ask your coach to send recruit­ing pack­ages to schools you’re inter­est­ed in. Just one rec­om­men­da­tion from a respect­ed coach is like­ly to catch an evaluator’s eye.

Your high­light can be the tick­et that blows up your recruit­ing pro­file and gets you noticed by col­lege coach­es, but you have to do it right. Click here for more info on how to get start­ed. For more exam­ples of killer videos, check out this page.