A Comprehensive Guide to Division 1 Basketball Scholarships and Beyond

Are you a student-athlete aspiring to play Division I basketball? Discover the abundance of Division 1 Basketball Scholarships. Uncover the various scholarships and financial aid programs that can pave the way for your academic and athletic success.

Division 1 Basketball Scholarships
Division 1 Basketball Scholarships

The road to NCAA Division I men’s basketball is challenging, with less than one percent of high school athletes cutting. Despite the formidable competition, securing a scholarship, though not common, remains within the realm of possibility. Various opportunities exist, spanning NCAA Division I to JUCO programs, where athletic scholarships can be pursued. Division I offers headcount scholarships, ensuring each player receives a full ride.

Conversely, NCAA Division II, NAIA, and JUCO programs operate on equivalency scholarships, allowing coaches to distribute athletic aid across multiple athletes, potentially resulting in partial scholarships. While Division III coaches can’t provide athletic scholarships, they compensate with enticing financial packages that significantly offset college costs.

How many scholarships are available for men’s Division I basketball?

With 353 teams, each boasting an average size of 16 players, the competition for NCAA Division I basketball scholarships is fierce. Only a fraction of high school athletes—less than one percent—will secure a spot at this elite level. Each Division I men’s basketball program is authorized to grant 13 full athletic scholarships, known as headcount scholarships. These scholarships encompass all college expenses, including tuition, housing, and books. It’s essential to note that once the 13 scholarships are allocated, additional athletes can still join the team as walk-ons but won’t be eligible for athletic aid.

NCAA Basketball Scholarships by Division Level

Division LevelNumber of TeamsTotal AthletesAverage Team SizeScholarships Limit Per TeamScholarship Limit Type
NCAA D13535,5221613Headcount
NCAA D23135,2511710Equivalency
NCAA D34467,76718N/A
NAIA D1931,8642011Equivalency
NAIA D21372,752216Equivalency
Other 4 year921,39415N/A
Other 2 year1451,98814N/A

In basketball scholarships, it’s crucial to grasp the distinction between a headcount scholarship and an equivalency scholarship. In NCAA Division I, student-athletes are recipients of headcount scholarships, which translate to full rides. Essentially, coaches allocate precisely 13 full ride scholarships to 13 athletes, with no flexibility to distribute the funds in any other manner. On the other hand, at the Division II, NAIA, and JUCO levels, college coaches opt for equivalency scholarships. Here, coaches have a pool of scholarship funds that can be distributed among as many athletes as they choose. Consequently, depending on the program, athletes at these levels may receive partial scholarships, reflecting the flexible nature of the equivalency scholarship model.

How many players on a college basketball team?

According to NCAA rules, a college basketball team is permitted to have up to 15 players on its roster. However, it’s important to note that not all teams necessarily carry the maximum number of players. When it comes to actual gameplay, only five players from each team are allowed on the court at any given time. This limitation ensures a dynamic and competitive environment during the course of a basketball game.


Securing a basketball scholarship requires a strategic and proactive approach. Consider the following key aspects to increase your chances:

1. Compete at the Highest Level:

– Participate in high-level competitions like AAU to showcase your skills against top-ranked recruits.

– While AAU is popular, varsity high school teams and club basketball can also provide competitive opportunities.

2. Summer Live Periods:

– Capitalize on summer live periods when college coaches actively scout players.

– These offseason stretches allow coaches to watch multiple players in person, making it crucial to perform well during these periods.

3. Attend Elite Camps:

– Attend invitation-only elite camps where top talent and college coaches gather.

– Focus on camps at schools high on your target list to maximize exposure.

4. Excel Academically:

– Maintain strong grades and test scores as academic performance matters to college coaches.

– Academic success can potentially open doors to academic aid, especially in divisions offering equivalency scholarships.

5. Create a Highlight Film:

– Develop a compelling highlight film showcasing your skills and gameplay.

– This serves as a crucial first impression for coaches, providing a snapshot of your abilities.

6. Be Proactive:

– Take the initiative to reach out to coaches; don’t wait to be discovered.

– Research, email, and call coaches to express your interest and showcase your skills.

7. Know Your College Fit:

– Thoroughly research and understand the rosters of colleges on your target list.

– Consider factors such as the players in your position, athletic stats, and the coach’s recruitment preferences.

Remember, the path to a basketball scholarship involves a combination of athletic prowess, academic dedication, and proactive communication with college coaches. Stay focused, showcase your skills, and actively pursue opportunities to connect with coaches to increase your chances of securing a scholarship.

What are the Odds of Getting a Basketball Scholarship?

In a nutshell, obtaining a basketball scholarship is a challenging endeavor, but it’s certainly within reach. Across NCAA Division 1 to JUCO, there are 32,890 men’s basketball athletes dispersed among 2,009 programs. The likelihood of a high school basketball player earning a spot on a Division 1 roster is 105:1, while the odds of making any college roster stand at 18:1.

Within the landscape of Division 1 basketball, which operates as a headcount sport, coaches have precisely 13 full-ride scholarships to distribute among 13 players. In Division 2, functioning as an equivalency sport, coaches can opt for full scholarships or allocate partial scholarships across multiple athletes. This translates to 10,773 athletes vying for 7,719 scholarships in these two NCAA divisions. Shifting focus to NAIA, the competition involves 4,616 athletes contending for 1,845 basketball scholarships. Notably, JUCO emerges as a realm of ample opportunity, where each team can award a maximum of 15 scholarships, aligning with the average team size of 15 players.

Can You Play College Basketball Without a Scholarship?

While it is technically possible, the likelihood is minimal. In NCAA Division 1, basketball players not on scholarships are termed walk-ons. Some Division 1 schools conduct tryouts, bringing on one to two walk-ons, though these players often find limited playing time. Additionally, recruits may face competition from athletes with established relationships with the college coach, as some coaches actively recruit walk-ons, labeling them as “preferred walk-ons.”

On the other hand, NCAA Division 2, NAIA programs, and JUCO colleges tend to be more receptive to walk-ons vying for roster spots—with the potential to even earn a scholarship. For instance, a student-athlete could walk on to a Division 2 program during their freshman year and subsequently secure a scholarship in the following years. This flexibility arises from the fact that these coaches have the option to award partial scholarships and renew them on a yearly basis.

How Many Scholarships Are Available for Men’s D1 Basketball?

In NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball, each team has the opportunity to award 13 full athletic scholarships. Considering there are 353 men’s basketball teams with an average size of 16 players per team, these scholarships, known as headcount scholarships, cover the entirety of college costs, encompassing tuition, housing, books, and more. However, securing a Division 1 basketball scholarship is highly competitive, with less than one percent of high school athletes making it to this level. It’s crucial to note that after the allocation of the 13 scholarships, additional athletes may join the team as walk-ons, but they won’t be eligible for athletic aid.

How to Secure a Division 1 Basketball Scholarship

Securing a Division 1 basketball scholarship is a highly competitive process that requires strategic planning and proactive engagement. Here’s a guide to navigate the journey:

1. Start Early and Be Exceptional:

– Coaches begin recruiting early, sometimes as early as middle school.

– Stand out as an exceptional player, with elite athletes often ranking nationally, such as making the ESPN Top 150 list.

2. AAU Club Teams and Tournaments:

– Division 1 coaches often scout top recruits through AAU club teams, where they can find top talent competing nationally.

– Participation in summer tournaments is crucial for exposure and catching the attention of college coaches.

3. Elite Camps and Coach Exposure:

– Attend elite camps hosted by colleges to showcase skills and garner coach exposure.

– Choose camps that align athletically and academically to enhance evaluation chances.

4. Academic Excellence Matters:

– Maintain a strong GPA and test scores, as academic performance is a significant factor for coaches.

– Higher academic achievements open more doors and enhance the overall appeal to college coaches.

5. Be Proactive and Create a Profile:

– Create a comprehensive highlight film and obtain game footage.

– Develop an online profile showcasing athletic stats and academic information.

– Initiate contact with college coaches through introductory emails, and follow up when relevant.

– Utilize the unique aspect of basketball where recruits can initiate phone contact, allowing for direct communication with coaches.

6. Leverage High School or Club Coach:

– Seek guidance from high school or club coaches to build a realistic list of target schools.

– Ensure alignment with programs that are athletically and academically fitting.

By combining exceptional athletic performance, academic excellence, and proactive engagement, student-athletes can enhance their chances of securing a coveted Division 1 basketball scholarship.

How Many Division 2 Men’s Basketball Scholarships Are There?

In NCAA Division 2 men’s basketball, coaches are permitted to award a maximum of 10 scholarships per team. Unlike NCAA Division 1, these scholarships operate under the equivalency model. In this system, college coaches are allocated a pool of athletic aid, and they have the flexibility to decide how many athletes receive athletic scholarships. Consequently, some players may be offered partial scholarships rather than full rides. With 313 Division 2 men’s basketball teams and an average team size of 17 players, the competition for these scholarships remains fierce, and the distribution varies based on the decisions of individual coaches.

Division 3 Men’s Basketball Scholarships

In NCAA Division 3 men’s basketball, there are no athletic scholarships available per team. Despite this, Division 3 schools employ alternative forms of aid, including academic scholarships, merit-based aid, and grants, to craft competitive scholarship packages for recruits. Typically consisting of small private schools, Division 3 institutions often have funds earmarked for these purposes. Remarkably, 82 percent of all Division 3 athletes receive some form of aid, highlighting the emphasis on leveraging academic achievements for financial support. Student-athletes with impressive test scores and a strong GPA stand to benefit the most from Division 3 scholarships.

NAIA Basketball Scholarships

Division 1:

– Maximum scholarships available per team: 11

– Total # of NAIA D1 men’s basketball teams: 93

– Avg. team size: 20

Division 2:

– Maximum scholarships available per team: 6

– Total # of NAIA D2 men’s basketball teams: 137

– Avg. team size: 21

Presently, the NAIA features two basketball divisions, each with its own set of maximum scholarships. NAIA Division 1 allows teams to award up to 11 scholarships, while NAIA Division 2 allows for six per team. It’s important to note that, as of the 2020-21 school year, the NAIA is set to merge these two divisions, enabling each team to allocate up to eight scholarships. The NAIA maintains the equivalency model, allowing coaches the flexibility to distribute athletic funds and decide how to allocate scholarships among their athletes. Typically, coaches opt to award multiple athletes partial scholarships to maximize their recruiting efforts. While this system offers financial support, some student-athletes may need to supplement with other aid forms, such as academic scholarships and need-based aid.

JUCO Men’s Basketball Scholarships

– Maximum scholarships available per team: 15

– Total # of NJCAA men’s basketball teams: 430

– Avg. team size: 15

Junior college men’s basketball scholarships within the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) have some nuances. Firstly, it’s contingent on the division, as there are three divisions within the NJCAA. Only Division 1 and Division 2 can offer athletic scholarships to basketball players. Notably, Division 1 is the sole division capable of providing a full-ride scholarship. In Division 2, scholarships can cover tuition, fees, and books, but housing costs are not included. Additionally, both divisions are permitted to cover an athlete’s transportation expenses to and from the college by a direct route once per year, enhancing the overall financial support available to student-athletes in JUCO basketball programs.

Basketball Scholarship Requirements

Prospective NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 college athletes are mandated to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. This process involves submitting transcripts and SAT/ACT scores and providing information regarding their amateur status. To secure a coveted roster spot and athletic scholarship, student-athletes must adhere to academic requirements and obtain clearance from the Eligibility Center.

Though there are slight variations in the requirements between Division 1 and Division 2, the fundamental approach to determining eligibility remains the same. Student-athletes must complete 16 core courses during high school, maintain a minimum GPA in these core courses, and adhere to the NCAA Sliding Scale. To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the specific Eligibility Center requirements, student-athletes need to learn about the requisite GPA and test scores needed to qualify.

Best Colleges for Basketball Scholarships

Securing a basketball scholarship involves finding college programs that align with your athletic prowess. Coaches prioritize scholarships for their strongest players, emphasizing student-athletes’ need to identify programs where they can make an immediate impact. To aid in your search, here are some of the best colleges for basketball scholarships across various division levels:

Top Men’s Basketball Colleges:

– University of North Carolina


– Stanford University

– University of Michigan

– University of Florida

– University of Virginia

– Princeton University

– Duke University

– University of California

– Harvard University

Top Division 1 (D1) Men’s Basketball Colleges:

– University of North Carolina


– Stanford University

– University of Michigan

– University of Florida

– University of Virginia

– Princeton University

– Duke University

– University of California

– Harvard University

Top Division 2 (D2) Men’s Basketball Colleges:

– University of California—San Diego

– Bentley University

– Point Loma Nazarene University

– California State Polytechnic University—Pomona

– Rollins College

– Bellarmine University

– California State University—Chico

– Western Washington University

– Truman State University

– Grand Valley State University

Division 1 Basketball Scholarships
Division 1 Basketball Scholarships

Top Division 3 (D3) Men’s Basketball Colleges:

– John Hopkins University

– Emory University

– Amherst College

– University of California—Santa Cruz

– California Institute of Technology

– Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

– Hamilton College

– Pomona-Pitzer College

– University of Chicago

– Trinity University—Texas

NAIA Men’s Basketball Colleges:

– Asbury University

– University of Michigan—Dearborn

– Concordia University—Nebraska

– St. Ambrose University

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– Bethel University—Indiana

– Aquinas College—Michigan

– College of the Ozarks

– Loyola University New Orleans

– Taylor University

– Indiana Wesleyan University

JUCO (NJCAA) Men’s Basketball Colleges:

– Florida SouthWestern State (FL)

– Vincennes (IN)

– Coffeyville (KS)

– Ranger (TX)

– John A. Logan (IL)

– Casper (WY)

– Odessa (TX)

– Northwest Florida State (FL)

– Chipola (FL)

– South Plains (TX)

Consider exploring each program’s roster and understanding the coach’s recruiting strategy, including the areas they focus on, to determine the best fit for your basketball aspirations.

How Many Full Ride Scholarships for Basketball Are There?

In NCAA Division 1 basketball, coaches can offer a maximum of 13 scholarships per team, commonly referred to as headcount or full-ride scholarships. On average, an NCAA Division 1 team comprises 16 athletes, potentially three players who walked on and did not qualify for athletic aid.

At the Division 2, NAIA, and JUCO levels, college coaches utilize equivalency scholarships to distribute their allocated athletic aid among multiple players. Consequently, student-athletes at these levels often receive partial scholarships, particularly in Division 2 and NAIA programs. While JUCO programs also employ equivalency scholarships, they are capped at a maximum of 15 per team, resulting in athletes frequently obtaining close-to-full-ride scholarships.

However, it’s essential to note that not all college basketball programs are fully funded. For instance, a Division 2 coach may offer 10 scholarships per team, but budget constraints could limit them to seven. To gain a comprehensive understanding of potential financial aid packages, it is advisable to directly engage with a college coach at the program of interest. This holds for Division 3 as well, where coaches cannot award athletic scholarships but can collaborate with the admissions department to craft attractive aid packages for student-athletes.

Conclusion on Division 1 Basketball Scholarships

Pursuing Division 1 (D1) basketball scholarships represents a challenging yet rewarding journey for aspiring student-athletes. With a limited number of full-ride headcount scholarships available per team, the competition is fierce, and only a fraction of high school athletes secure a spot in D1 programs. Understanding the distinct nature of headcount scholarships in D1, where coaches can offer a maximum of 13 scholarships per team, is essential.

Beyond D1, the landscape shifts to equivalency scholarships in Division 2, NAIA, and JUCO, allowing coaches to distribute athletic aid among multiple players. This often results in student-athletes receiving partial scholarships, emphasizing the need for strategic planning and engagement with college coaches.

Success in securing D1 basketball scholarships necessitates exceptional athletic talent and proactive efforts in meeting eligibility requirements, maintaining academic excellence, and effectively communicating with coaches. As student-athletes navigate this competitive realm, a comprehensive understanding of scholarship structures and a thoughtful approach to finding the right fit are crucial for a successful and fulfilling collegiate basketball experience.


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