Recruiting for college sports can be a tricky business. Coaches are looking for solid talent, of course, but they also need athletes that will mesh with the rest of the team, fill in gaps left by graduating players and perform well in the classroom. The leaders of College of Charleston’s women’s basketball team are clearly doing something right. The team’s recruiting class was recently ranked number one in the Colonial Athletic Association and number 47 in the country by the Dan Olson Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, an annual report on the top prospective athletes in the nation.
“We were ranked first in recruiting only [out of 10 teams in the conference], but that helps us grow and get our team better,” said Head Coach Robin Harmony. “It’s unbelievable that we could be ranked 47th in the report because there are 351 Division I teams and they only ranked the first 800 basketball players. We got three players that were in the top 250. It’s a great honor. And it’s going to help us get to that next plateau that we’re trying to reach.”
The recruitment process hasn’t come without its struggles. Because of the ongoing pandemic, prospective athletes aren’t able to visit the basketball program in person, and coaches have to communicate with players, parents and coaches over the phone.
Despite this, the team has received plenty of support from their community. Athletes are allowed to play under certain protocols and with testing in order to stay safe. And coaches are in the process of recruiting top athletes for the 2022 class.
“It’s almost a miracle because there are so many things that go into playing college basketball right now,” said Harmony. “Our kids love the game of basketball and they’re starting to get that love back. We’re really working hard, and they’re starting to see some success.”
New recruits will be joining a hard-working and closely knit team. They will be expected to continue growing the team’s success, adding more games to the win column and improving their individual skills. Players rely on films to see how they performed in a game and to know what they can do better in the future, even when they win the overall game.
“Basketball is a game of mistakes, so you can’t play a perfect game,” said Harmony. “You can always find something that we need to do better. Everybody wants to get that win, and you can still learn lessons whether you win or lose; it just feels a whole lot better with a win. It’s not easy to be successful. It’s just really about hard work and trying to be a little bit lucky.”
The team puts in work off the court to stay connected and bond. Players live close by in campus dorms and spend time together with team dinners. And when the whole team travels for away games, coaches build extra time into the schedule for players to sightsee and socialize.
When it comes to looking for future recruits, coaches look for players that will connect with their current players. They also need to match the team’s style of play — Harmony emphasized the need to get up and down the court quickly and athleticism — and will need skills to fill in what the team is missing.
“You can’t build a basketball team in a day or a couple of years,” said Harmony. “It takes, you know, two or three years to really start getting to where you’re even just average. But I think that we have a jump on it and that we’re going in the right direction. We know our kids and coaches work hard. We’re laying the foundation to be really good in the future.”
Part of building that foundation is setting goals to work toward in the future. Of course, having the top recruiting class in the conference and one of the best in the country will be tough to beat, but Harmony and the rest of the College of Charleston women’s basketball coaches won’t let up on looking for the best players to be part of their team.
“You kind of see these kids grow and articulate into great people and great basketball players,” said Harmony. “You work at it and work at it, and then finally it clicks — then you have success. It’s not easy to win. It’s not easy to be successful. If it were, everybody would be in there. It’s just about hard work and trying to be a little bit lucky and you’ll get the job done.”