This is our basic recruiting philosophy that we used at San Jacinto College:
1) Recruit early and frequently - we have no limitation on viewing periods so watch as many games as you can. We will watch them play with their high school and AAU teams to evaluate their consistency and level of play. Also a great way to see how they play against various levels of competition. Don't be afraid to go after the big fish! Especially if they give you a serious ear and listen! You will know right away if they like you.
2) Evaluate their work ethic by watching their high school practice. This is huge for us to build relationships with our players and their coach. Some coaches have even asked us to speak to their team after practice or run a drill in practice. Get involved and see what that player's work ethic is like and how she responds to coaching.
3) Communication - the biggest part of retention in the long run is having a direct relationship with the player. Get to know the high school and AAU coach so they can help you but don't depend on them to do your job. Get to know their parents to gain their trust - if we don't establish trust this can be a deal breaker. The most important relationship is with the player. Make sure each coach on staff has a good relationship with the player and she gets along with her future teammates. These small things go a long way. Use social media to get to know them but also as a way for them to get to know you and your program more. If their social media is alarming have a conversation with them and give them the benefit of the doubt. We normally don't engage them through social media until they sign! All communication will usually be through text, a few phone calls, maybe some emails, but most kids want to text.
Remember, players normally choose the school they feel the most wanted by so the more they see us at games, practices and random "good luck tonight" texts - they will remember you. Try to personalize everything: hand written notes, remember their favorite song and text them when you hear it on the radio, send them info about your program and highlight things specific to their major and interests. Once you build a relationship with them and decide this is a player that can help you, then set up a visit. We try to bring them in on game day so they can see our style of play.
On the visit, we like to show our campus in a specific order:
1) Start at gym - talk about history of program, show improvements we have made so far and goals they will help us reach
2) Show academic path - degree plan ready in a folder as we see classroom sizes are small and walking distance, career center where they can get leads in the jobs in their industry
3) Show tutoring center & library to connect them ahead of time with resources available (Parents love this)
4) Tour science building (newest building on campus) to show the commitment to growth and expansion by the college
5) Meet campus Provost - he normally has the recruits names and where they are from ahead of time and he always has funny stories for us
6) View the apartments where the team lives and all amenities - Big selling point!
7) Tour the city of Houston and meet team for lunch/dinner - great time for players to talk to recruit and parents to talk to coaches
These are some things we used that worked for us and a great reference for new head coaches looking for some ideas on how to start! Be yourself and you will attract the right fit for your program.