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REGIONAL BASKETBALL ACADEMY

Overwin Academy is a new type of organization that was created to challenge the traditional structure of high school basketball in Connecticut. Overwin Academy’s model is called a Regional Basketball Academy (RBA). Overwin Academy was created to help student/athletes and their families in Connecticut whose needs currently are not being met by public and private high schools. The benefits of the RBA will be discussed in detail in this article, but, in a nutshell, student/athletes can play winter basketball at the RBA while living at home and attending a public or private school of their choice.

The schools for which high school student/athletes in Connecticut generally play belong to one of two athletic governing bodies -- the Connecticut Interscholastic Conference (CIAC) or the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC). Each body has its own set of rules.

The NEPSAC rules (which Overwin Academy uses) tend to be more advantageous than CIAC rules for student/athletes who want to play basketball in college and beyond.

NEPSAC member schools are private schools. The tuition, room, and board, of NEPSAC schools can vary widely, but according to the College Board the average cost of a four year private school in New England is $39,200.

Public schools tend to be members of CIAC, but some parochial schools are also CIAC members. Magnet schools, charter schools, and technical schools can also be CIAC members. Public schools are taxpayer funded and Connecticut spends 98% its property tax revenue on public schools.

Public school teachers must be certified by the State of Connecticut and therefore tend to be highly qualified.

Private schools often only require a teacher to have a bachelor's degree, although, it is up to each private school to set their own minimum requirements. Private schools tend to have smaller classes. Families who send their kids to private schools are willing to pay a premium for the benefit of smaller classes, but oftentimes private schools have a narrower course selection than a public school.

Too, not all student/athletes desire a college education, but that should not limit their opportunities to play basketball at the highest levels and this is a need that the RBA can fill.

Ultimately, it is up to each family to determine which school or academy best meets the academic and athletic needs of their child.

Student/athletes fall into two categories -- Post-Graduates and Rising 9th through 12th graders.

POST-GRADUATE

Many high school graduates take a gap year after high school before going to college. If the student/athlete decides upon a gap year, but wants to play basketball during the gap year they are called "post-graduates", or post-grads, or PG.

PG players who have the goal of using basketball as a means to get a better education than they might if they did not play basketball usually play on a post-grad team at a private school. PG student/athletes are allowed to re-take one core curriculum high school class and replace the old grade with the new grade. The PG student/athlete can also take a small number of college courses without losing eligibility to play in college. PG student/athletes can also take the SAT or ACT test. It is important speak to someone knowledgeable to discuss these options. Overwin Academy has experience in this area.

Not all PG players are college bound. Some PG players may want to use their gap year to get more experience before trying out for a G-League or international team.

There are a lot of benefits to doing a PG year. The player can 1.) boost her or his GPA; 2.) take a limited number of college courses; 3.) boost his or her ACT or SAT scores; 4.) mature physically and emotionally; 5.) can improve her or his basketball skills. All of these factors can make a PG player more desirable to a college coach and a college admission counselor. A college coach often has some pull in the admissions process. If the coach wants a player to be on the team and the college admission department feels the student/athlete is a good fit then there is probably a better chance of being admitted to the college.

Players who decide a PG year is the right path to take need to determine which PG program will best meet their needs.

If a player needs to re-take a high school core curriculum course to boost his or her high school GPA to get into the college the player can enroll at a RBA that has an affiliation with an educational company that can offer the core curriculum course.

An elite PG basketball player may be offered financial aid from a private school that has an endowment. If the player is not offered financial aid then the family will have to pay for the cost of tuition. As was stated earlier the cost of a year of tuition at a private school averages about $39,000 per year.

A viable alternative to a NEPSAC school for a 5th year PG player is the RBA. Players can take courses through colleges while enrolled in the RBA. Players can also re-take high school core curriculum courses through educational companies affiliated with the RBA, as well as take SAT and ACT prep courses.

Some PG players have graduated from high school with excellent academics and do not need to re-take high school courses or boost their test prep scores. They simply need to mature physically, emotionally, or improve their basketball skills.

It might be the case that a high school student/athlete did not graduate and wants to take the GED test to get into college. A year at the RBA could help boost their academic prospects.

RISING 9TH THROUGH 12TH GRADERS

Rising 9th through 12th graders have a choice to play on a basketball team at their local public school, technical school, magnet school, charter school, private school, private parochial school or regional basketball academy. Private schools can cost tens of thousands of dollars more per year than public schools and the money saved by going to public school could be spent on hiring a tutor if academics are a concern. Also, from an income tax perspective, money saved is better than money earned because taxes are not paid on money saved. For example, tax-wise, going to public school is better than having to earn extra to pay for a private school because the money saved is not taxable. Assume that for every $10,000 a person makes he or she have to pay $1,000 in income taxes. They might need to earn an extra $40,000 to pay for private school. They will have to pay $4,000 extra in taxes on the extra income. So they really need to earn $44,000 extra to pay for a year of private school -- $40,000 for tuition and $4,000 for taxes. If the child goes to a public school they will not have to earn $44,000 extra.

The best basketball teams in the CIAC are much weaker than most of the teams in the NEPSAC and the very best CIAC teams could not compete well against the best NEPSAC teams. Overwin Academy more closely resembles a NEPSAC basketball program than a CIAC program.

College, professional, and international basketball teams use a shot clock. The most serious players are attracted to NEPSAC schools because of their use of a shot clock. CIAC schools do not use a shot clock and therefore players on CIAC teams are at disadvantage to NEPSAC and RBA players when it comes to being recruited to play in college.

CIAC coaches cannot recruit players to their team and they are limited as to how much time they can spend coaching their players out-of-season. NEPSAC and RBA coaches can recruit and they can coach their players year-round which allows NEPSAC and RBA players to distance themselves in ability compared to CIAC players.

NEPSAC schools and RBAs tend to attract more serious players than CIAC schools because they play more games per season than CIAC schools.

Serious basketball players and players with elite level ability are highly sought after by NEPSAC and RBA coaches because the league is highly competitive. The coaches know they can coach their players year-round and this helps players to become even better.

College coaches, especially at the Division I level, are able to see many more skilled players during NEPSAC and RBA team practices and games than at CIAC practices and games. Therefore, the most serious players who want to be recruited to play in college are drawn to NEPSAC schools and RBAs. College coaches at the Division I level rarely actively recruit players from Connecticut public schools.

The academics at some private schools are highly regarded and this is attractive to coaches from the Ivy League and Patriot League as well as high academic Division III schools like Middlebury, Amherst, or Caltech. These high academic schools have a direct link to a wide network of job opportunities. High academic student/athletes at private schools probably have a better chance of getting into a high academic college than a high academic student who does not play sports, all else being equal.

Here again the RBA can offer many of the same benefits as a private school, but at an affordable price because the RBA student/athlete will attend a local public school or other school of choice, but the cost of the education has already been covered by local property taxes of the local taxpayers. The cost of attending the RBA is much less than the tuition, room, and board at a private school, and the level of basketball at the RBA is higher than a CIAC school. If academics are a concern then the money saved by attending a local school of choice versus a private school can be spent on private tutors.

Not all student/athletes want to live in a boarding school. Student/athletes can continue to go to school with the friends they grew up with and still play basketball at the RBA.

A sports academy like IMG in Florida costs over $80,000 for tuition, room, board, and basketball training. Few families can afford the IMG experience, but by attending the RBA the student/athlete can get the same or similar benefits as they would at IMG, but at a fraction of the cost.

Reclassification is a big benefit offered by private schools to public school students. CIAC allows students to play athletics for 8 consecutive semesters. Many public high school students transfer to private schools after one or more years of attending public school so that they can get 10 consecutive semesters of sports. These transfer students are allowed to repeat the grade in which they were most recently enrolled at the public school. The reclassifying student/athlete gets the benefit of being an older student able to compete in sports against students who are a year younger and able to repeat the course material to improve his or her GPA.

Students who enroll at the RBA can also get the same 10 consecutive semester of sports benefits that NEPSAC schools offer. For example, suppose a CIAC student has poor academic performance his or her freshman year and needs to repeat the grade. If the student repeats a grade at the CIAC member school she or he will have only 6 consecutive semesters of school remaining. That means the student would not be eligible to play sports his or her senior year unless they transferred to a private school for their senior year, which could be at great financial expense. A student who has to forgo sports their senior year may lose a shot at a college athletic scholarship. A possible solution is to enroll at the RBA because, like NEPSAC, there is not a restriction of only 8 consecutive semesters of eligibility at the RBA.

A regional basketball academy such as Overwin Academy is a viable alternative for student/athletes whose needs are not met at CIAC or NEPSAC schools. The student/athletes' needs can be met at the RBA at an equal or higher level and at a lower cost than at a NEPSAC school. Compared to a CIAC school, a regional basketball academy is probably a much better alternative for the student/athlete who is serious about playing basketball in college.

Please visit overwin.org for more information about how a student athlete can benefit by attending Overwin Academy.