By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As we watched some of the best college athletes compete tonight, we wondered about the Minnesota high school athletes playing in the state basketball tournament.

So, what are the odds of getting a college hoops scholarship? The odds are worse than you might expect.

The road to Williams Arena and the state boys’ basketball tournament starts in grade school. When these young basketballers are just grade school kids, they pick up a ball and their parents pick up a dream.

WCCO’s Mike Max has covered Minnesota high school sports for decades. When asked if parents overestimate, he said, “I don’t think they have any idea how hard it is.”

Let’s start with Division I — the chance to play at the Barn, as a college athlete.

“That’s the big kahuna,” said Max.

Each Division I men’s basketball program can give away 13 full-ride scholarships. Multiply that by 344 teams and that’s 4,472 scholarships.

There are 156,000 high schools seniors playing hoops in the U.S. Just 2.8 percent of them will get Division I scholarships.

So, how many Minnesotan basketball players get a scholarship every year?

“This has increased a lot over the years. It’s probably on average around seven or eight,” said Max.

There are other scholarships — 305 Division II schools offer 10 men’s scholarships each, for another 3,050 more total.

But the odds of playing any kind of college ball are slim. Of the 546,000 kids who play high school basketball, just 16,000 play at NCAA schools. That’s 3 percent.

So odds are none of these guys will get a full athletic scholarship. But on this court, on this day, it’s clear that’s not the real reason they play.

Comments (9)
  1. Sha Dyanasty says:

    More hard hitting journalism NOT. One news guy interviews another news guy. How about talking to a coach or player, or even looking at the bball recruiting web sites that list where players are going to college? Your news reporting is a joke!

  2. Denise says:

    I appreciate a report about this. Excellence in the classroom is much more likely to lead to financial aid for college than playing sports. I believe it’s important for students realize that sports, theater, and newspaper club exist because the school is there to educate them in the liberal studies. I do think it’s important that students be involved in extra-curricular activities. It develops leadership and the social skills that are vital to success in life as well. But it’s crucial that students, parents, and schools realize that sports are EXTRA-curricular and should come after the school day when students are learning how to read, write, and do math and science. How many times are we told that we are 28th in the world for math scores? During the school basketball tournament, how many students were there, not practicing math?

  3. Simple says:

    The math is wrong. 4,472 scholarships are not given out every year. Closer to 1/4 of that, so about 1,118, plus some for the kids who leave to go pro or just drop out.
    So closer ot 7/10 th of a percent will get a D1 free ride. The problem with this countyr is we are no good at math. And the best I can tell no one in the media even knows how to count. So next good question, why are we so bad math and how do we make it better?

    1. Matt says:

      This is the first thing I noticed as I read the article as well. How can so many people in this country be so dumb?

  4. Chance says:

    Percent of high school students that go pro:
    Women’s BBall 0.02%
    Men’s BBall 0.03%
    Baseball 0.45%
    Men’s hockey 0.32%
    Football 0.08%
    Men’s soccer 0.07%

    I’ve seen many hopes and dreams of pro-level success shattered. As Denise stated, academia is far more important that athletics, but the truth is we are a competition driven society – and sports are our primary outlet.

    My suggestion is to any young athletes reading in is to never let sports become a chore; if your sport is no longer fun then you are likely putting too much importance on the activity and you should consider lightening the load before you burn out.

    1. martin simmons says:

      Where do you get your numbers from? Are they factoring all students or just the once that play that particular sport. What about the students that play 4 years in high school? What about the numbers of those that go on to college and play? Not everyone plays sports. I would like to see a break down of the numbers.

  5. Marjorie says:

    Next question. How hard is it for a very intelligent, non basketball player in Minnesota, to get a grand scholarship for “brains”?

  6. C. Ploeger says:

    Heres a good question: How do you submit a good question?

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