BCHL Scholarship Facts
So you don’t have a scholarship yet and you’re getting a bit stressed. Here’s my best advice, listen closely because it’s the best pearl of wisdom I have to offer;
Take a deep breath and relax!
There is plenty of time to sort things out and I have some interesting statistics to prove I’m right! After seven years of recruiting from and placing players in the NCAA from Tier II leagues like the BCHL it was becoming clear that teams were going after elite players seemingly younger each year. Of course, this was a direct result of the WHL policy to conduct their bantam draft at 14 years of age and the need for teams to make ‘commitments’ early to compete. However, the NCAA system is limited in when they are allowed to contact players and also how early they can ‘sign’ them to letters of intent. In fact, Division I college hockey coaches are not allowed to initiate contact with prospective student athletes until June 15th of their sophomore year (End of grade 10) in high school. That means they cannot reply to emails, text messages, or return phone calls prior to that date. This can be circumvented through the use of agents/family advisors, you can contact them directly yourself or in some cases, contact is made through other nefarious practices by the teams themselves. Long story short, a trend emerged of numerous players committing very early (Kyle Turris unofficially signed and committed to Wisconsin at age 14, or so the rumour went….). Thus, the perception became if you were any good, and hoped to play for an elite team, you had to sign as soon as possible.
I decided to test that theory and the results were very surprising. I did an analysis of two seasons in the BCHL, using the data on their own website from the 2007-08 & 2008-09 seasons which listed which of their players had committed to the NCAA and at what age they had done so. Without boring you on all of the methodology used (I will post a more complete methodology as a PDF attached to Part 2), my many years as a legal social scientist came in handy as I had to sort out truth from fiction and come up with reliable statistics to further analyze.
I wanted to know at what age players were signing NCAA scholarships in the BCHL and what significance if any, the results of this data has for the NCAA bound athlete and their parents?
Here are the BCHL results which show the amount of Players Signed, the overall percentage from that age group signed of the total and at what age Players were listed when they signed their NCAA Scholarship letters of intent:
1) 16 Years of Age – 4 Players – 2.89%
2) 17 years of Age – 1 Player – 0.72%
3) 18 Years of Age – 17 Players – 12.3%
4) 19 Years of Age – 29 Players – 21%
5) 20 Years of Age – 48 Players – 34.8%
6) 21 Years of Age – 39 Players – 28.3%
A quick look at the results shows us three outstanding facts.
Firstly, that ONLY 15.9% of the total scholarships given out over those 2 seasons were given to players 18 Years old or younger. In fact, for 16-17 year olds, ONLY an average of 2.5 Players per Season actually secured scholarships.
Secondly, 63% of ALL BCHL scholarships are awarded to players when they are in their final two years of junior eligibility (20-21 years of age).
Lastly, over 84% of ALL scholarships are awarded to players over 18 years of age, which means, the overwhelming majority of players secure their academic future, AFTER their NHL draft year has passed.
Well this seems like a good place to take a break. Let those stats sink in and we will discuss what the potential repercussions of these results are in Part 2 of our analysis later this week.
Conclusions and discussions:
1) ONLY the truly ELITE players are actually signing at 18 years or under. Remember, the WHL scoops up the top 30-50 players of each age group at 14. By the time the MML (Major Midget) or comparable Elite Midget season is over, which ALL players must player before being able to play Junior full time, most have been persuaded to sign WHL contracts and destroy their NCAA chances before they are actually eligible to play a regular junior shift at 16 year olds. Therefore, if you are just coming out of the MML league or have completed your first season or even two of Junior B or Tier II, don’t get your feather ruffled stressing about why you haven’t received multiple offers yet. It is clear that NCAA teams are only willing to sign the truly elite 14-17 year olds, if they are missing out on the majority of the cream of the crop, it only makes sense to take a ‘wait and see approach’ and allow players to develop for an extra year or three so that they know what kind of finished product they are going to get for their $100,000+ investment in your hockey future and education.
2) Don’t jump on the first offer you get when you are 19 or under, more are certain to come. You aren’t too old, don’t panic. There is a Hierarchy in the NCAA where in essence, the best clubs get first crack at the best players and you move down the priority list from there. Thus, if a bottom team in the low 50`s comes at you hard, it is for a good reason. They need to pressure you to sign early so they can have a shot at actually getting you before the big dogs step in. Don’t fall for it. I shake my head in disbelief every season when it is obvious many players just took the first offer to come available because they were scared they were going to get shutout if they didn’t. Do your homework, if there is one team interested, there are probably more out there; take the time to find out, you won’t be sorry.
3) More often then not, teams like Bentley or Robert Morris – in the Atlantic Conference – don’t even bother trying to recruit players until they are in the final year(s) of their junior eligibility. First off, they can’t compete against Boston College for talent and second they can’t take risks on undeveloped players not panning out. So they take 20-21 year olds and are able to get a more finished product into the line-up right from day one.
4) Of course, the fact that the WHL is not only skimming off the cream of the crop of each age group, but they are effectively signing the majority of the elite players from each age group, the ELITE talent level in the BCHL, AJHL and other tier II leagues has measurably dropped over the past 3-5 years. This isn’t to say the league isn’t full of talented players, I’m merely arguing that less and less elite level players are choosing to go the Tier II route and the league reflects that fact with more and more older players filling the various rosters. This of course may be a contentious conclusion, but you only have to casually look at the BCHL leagues rosters from the 2009-10 season and it will become OBVIOUSLY clear that few 17-18 year olds (1992 Birth year) made an impact, let alone 1993 birth year players. For all intents and purposes, first year players (1993 Birth years) were almost being ignored by the league entirely at this point as there wasn’t a single 1993 in the TOP 100 in League scoring. It is becoming an older league and the NCAA teams are clearly willing to wait and let those players develop to their fullest before they sign them.
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