Reporting 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.