Trinity women’s basketball head coach Cameron Hill has a unique talent. While he doesn’t swallow fire or lick his elbows, he can tell immediately when a prospect enters his office on a recruiting visit whether she will fit in at Trinity University.
Hill’s recruiting efforts have allowed the team to plant itself at the top of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC).
Because Trinity is a Division III program, it can’t give players any athletic scholarships.
If a prospect must make a decision on where to play collegiate ball based solely on financial abilities, prospects aren’t likely to look at Division III schools.
However, Trinity’s women’s basketball program has found ways to recruit talent from across the country who are capable of leading the team to the NCAA playoffs each year.
According to Hill, his honesty and relaxed demeanor towards recruits help him plead the case for Division III schools, like Trinity.
If the relationship is cool, he will ask the prospect to name five Division II schools. Typically, they can’t do it.
“It is an irrelevant level. At the end of the day, no one gives a shit about Division II,” Hill said.
Hill also mentioned the fact that an overwhelming majority of female athletes don’t play professional athletics after graduation, including those who play Division I.
“Even those players are looking to do different things as they move into their lives. Division II — same thing,” Hill said. “I am a firm believer that Division III will better prepare you for the long-term career path than other places.”
Hill believes that honesty is the best policy for attracting the best players.
“They can ask me any question, and I am going to tell them the truth. I want them to know whatever they think they need to know to make this the best decision possible for them,” Hill said. “You get all kinds of stuff from prospects. Sometimes it is basketball-specific, other times it is like, ‘Will you let me be in a sorority?’ or ‘What if I want to travel abroad?’ There is really nothing that is out of bounds.”
Trinity usually begins to recruit prospects who don’t attract much interest from Division I schools at the beginning of their senior year of high school.
At this point, the prospects know that they will probably not play for Division I programs, and they begin to look at other options for playing basketball in college.
They know they want to play collegiate basketball, but they don’t know how to attract the attention of coaches.
First-year stretch forward Hailey Coleman used a recruiting service to increase her communication with schools.
“Around the beginning of my junior year, I used CaptainU to figure out which schools and coaches had ‘searched’ [for me],” Coleman said. “From there, I could email or follow up with the coach to talk about a future possibly playing there.”
Recruiting services will even send emails to colleges on behalf of the prospects, which gives Hill a lot of player profiles to review.
“Every single day, I will get between 10 and 12 prospecting emails,” Hill said. “I’ll get emails from the company in addition to emails from the family. There is a lot of information out there, and it takes a lot to actually click the link and watch every single video we get, but we do it. I would say [we watch] 98 percent of them.”
Rather than focusing on their assists per game or field goal percentage, Hill focuses on a unusual part of a recruit’s profile.
“I look at high school’s winning percentage,” Hill said. “I think that a player who scores a lot of points or shoots really well, but their team never wins [is unhelpful]. I don’t want someone who brings that type of experience to our program. I like kids that compete for state titles or have won them. It’s nice though when they can shoot 40 percent from the three-point line.”
Hill likes to keep the roster above 15 players, so he can have three competitive teams during practice. Ideally, he recruits four to five players per class to avoid having a class leave the program desolate or need to breathe life back into the program. This year, however, the women’s team welcomed eight new members.
“It has been tricky because over the last couple of years we have emerged as a national program,” Hill said. “More people know about us, so we are getting more interest from all over the country, as opposed to just west of the Mississippi. If I have eight really good players who want to come, I’m taking them.”
Frequently, Hill will receive a call from Admissions about a potential recruit on a campus visit that would like to meet with him.
“I always meet with those kids. Most of the time we will pull their film up, and they are not close,” Hill said. “They don’t have a frame of reference to how good basketball is here. They just think, ‘Division III: it’s voluntary, and I can probably do it.’ Not the case. I’m sure you are awesome, and we got great intramurals, but being on this team isn’t for you.”
If the recruit still believes she has what it takes, Hill invites her to practice.
“Come play pickup with the girls and then they get a taste, and they are like ‘holy shit, this is actually real. I get it now,’” Hill said.
For the prospects he actively recruits, Hill doesn’t mess around. He believes that getting them on campus as soon as possible is vital to starting a relationship with a recruit on the right foot.
“If I think you are good, I want you to come here. I don’t want to have just a three-month text relationship or warm you up,” Hill said.
First-year forward and center Britney Goodwin’s campus visit helped her expedite the recruiting process.
“As soon as I stepped on to campus it felt like home. Every angle of Trinity was absolutely beautiful,” Goodwin said. “Being able to tour the athletic facilities was breathtaking and I immediately knew that I could see myself at Trinity.”
Through his seven years as head coach at Trinity, Hill has developed an instinct for determining whether a recruit belongs at Trinity.
“When you look at a kid, and they look at you. You just know there is a comfortable feeling,” Hill said. “I can coach her, and she is interested in what we do. You just kinda know it right away. For 100 percent of the class we brought here, that feeling was in the room the second they walked in.”
The women’s basketball team will begin their season with a home game against Concordia University (Tex.) on Monday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m.