Part 1: Recruiting Vanderbilt style

The collegiate basketball season never really ends. When play is over, seniors graduate and the team is in a holding pattern before summer camps, there is recruiting – perhaps the most important facet of an ongoing program. Vanderbilt Assistant Coach Kim Rosamond spoke with VandyMania about the process of finding the right player to fit the ‘Dore lineup.

In her 10th year of coaching, the former Ole Miss guard and pharmaceutical saleswoman, is hands-down a people person. Kim spends significant amounts of time with prospects' home and school environments and her successful experience leads to this conclusion: there is a specific type of player who can succeed at Vanderbilt.

She and other coaches use these weeks to evaluate key prospects during the non-scholastic period, or non-high school events like the Nike Summer Showcase where 60 or so teams play one event. Travel teams filled with the nation's top prospects play key tournaments and showcase their talent to land scholarship offers – and prestige – for their programs.

Although Vandy does recruit players who play for top AAU and travel teams, they don't limit their offers to these rosters.

"We don't just go out to recruit the top kids. We try to find the right kids," Kim said. "There is a level of talent and skill it takes to play at Vanderbilt and play for the SEC, one of the top conferences in the country. But there is so much more than talent and skill that we look for in our prospects. Character and attitude, loyalty and honesty are very important in our program."

The staff identifies prospects uniquely Vanderbilt, cut from the same cloth as the school's competitive Head Coach Melanie Balcomb – and that means tough and smart.

"If you're not tough, you can't play for Melanie Balcomb, and you can't play at Vanderbilt. Our program is built around the ‘team first' attitude, but also being tough and being a competitor." Kim adds the ability to handle a challenging academic environment is an essential as well.

"Obviously we want a kid who is going to be as dedicated in the classroom as they are on the court. We're lucky because of our academic reputation that we can make a very good offer. We want kids who value their degree," Kim emphasized.

"One of the things we tell kids in the recruiting process, and we're very honest, is that we'll never promise you it's going to be easy. We're only going to promise you it's going to be worth it. We want kids that want that type of challenge. At the end of the game when it's tied and it's crunch time and you're dying and the other team is dying, you want that kid who doesn't want it easy, who doesn't want it handed to them, who is going to fight, who's going to dig down deep and be able to make a play at the end of a game."

The Southeastern Conference is a physically demanding league, and prospects have to step up to that challenge each night, Kim adds. "Coach Balcomb is one of the toughest competitors in the country and her teams reflect that. She's Jersey tough as we like to put it. It's very important that you recruit to the personality of your coach. One of the biggest compliments you can get as a team is being told how hard our kids play and how tough they are, so we're very proud of the type of kids we have in our program and are able to recruit."

Finding that player happens in a number of ways. High school coaches are a huge part of the equation. Scouting games in person, visiting with family members and influencers and watching video highlights helps, but just as important are the unofficial visits to the campus. Time is spent with the staff, but also the players. By using reports from those unguarded moments, decisions can be made to offer or no longer pursue. Like a job interview, all contact is meaningful in the process.

"We get feedback from them on what type of fit that recruit is going to be and how that player meshed with our team. Our players are very valuable in the recruiting process as well because one of the most underrated things is team chemistry. We're ahead of the game at Vanderbilt because our team chemistry is one of our keys to why we're so successful.

"It's not that we want to recruit the same type of player – we have a lot of diversity on our team with a lot of players come from different backgrounds and different areas in the country. But at the end of the day, all of our team members agree we're on the same page as far as what this program means to them, where they want to take this program, their commitment to helping us continue to be an elite program and commitment to working hard."

Part 2: Kim explains why timing is critical, and where Vanderbilt looks for prospects.

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