For many people, attending the NCAA Final Fours is about watching elite college basketball teams battle it out to crown a champion for the 2014/15 season. This year, Duke won the men’s title in a thrilling game against Wisconsin in Indianapolis and UConn won the women’s title in a hard-fought game versus Notre Dame in Tampa Bay.
Behind the scenes, the two Final Fours are all about networking. In fact, these are the two most important networking events in the college coaching calendar for Division 1, 2, 3, NAIA, Junior College and Prep School coaches. For Randy Livingston, Chief Scout for LivOn Scouting, the focus is on meeting existing and potential clients for the LivOn Scouting service, an NCAA-approved service now entering its third year covering the best upcoming men’s and women’s talent from Australia and New Zealand.
This year was Livingston’s third year in a row on the networking grind at the Final Fours. “When I go to the Final Fours I have about 70-80 meetings lined up. Then there are always more coaches who I meet along the way, in the elevator, in the lobby and sometimes coaches just come up to me while I’m waiting to meet other coaches! It never stops.”
“I try to meet with all of the existing LivOn Scouting clients to get their feedback and see how we can improve on our scouting service, which is delivered via our online scouting platform designed exclusively for college coaches. When I meet with prospective clients, I go through a similar process, explaining to them how the scouting service works, how we select the players we cover and I give them some general tips for recruiting in the region. It really is a productive time for me and for LivOn Scouting,” Livingston said.
Although selling the LivOn Scouting service is Livingston’s top priority, he is also on a mission to raise awareness of Australia and New Zealand as prime recruiting locations. Livingston continued, “Australian basketball is at a very high point in the cycle right now, there are a lot of really good players. The Australian men finished second in the world at the U17’s last year, so the 16 and 17 year olds are of very high quality right now. There are some exceptional Kiwi players too, as well outstanding women players who have performed exceedingly well at the international level over recent years.”
The LivOn Scouting service is not just a review of who is playing basketball in Australia and New Zealand. It is a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best young basketball talent Australia and New Zealand has to offer. LivOn Scouting reports are all professionally presented in user-friendly PDF’s and online formats using the most up-to-date technology for finding and reviewing talent. Technical, film and editorial support is provided by Anita Ondine, an internationally renowned media producer with a passion for sport and a commitment to delivering top quality content.According to the former standout college player (LSU) who went on to play in the NBA and internationally, Livingston said “there are a lot of scouting services out there, but I’m one of the few guys who doesn’t hide behind my scouting reports. I put my reputation and my face on the line. That’s my name on the banner. I’m in the gym scouting all of the players personally. Luckily word-of-mouth travels fast and people trust me.”
Livingston introduced a new aspect to his meetings this year at both Final Fours. “This year we did a survey using Survey Monkey at the end of every meeting and received some interesting results. I asked about five to six questions that dealt with the customer relationship aspect of LivOn Scouting. For example, how did they enjoy the service? What is the best feature of the service? Do they have any suggestions for improving the service? The responses were extremely informative. Coaches said they loved the video aspect of the service, and they enjoy how clean and easy it is to navigate through. They recognised that a lot of work takes place behind the scenes to produce such a high quality product. They also praised how honest I am in my evaluations. I don’t try and sugar-coat a player, because you’ll lose their trust very quickly doing that. By clearly setting out each player’s strengths as well as their points for improvement, the coaches know what they are dealing with. It’s up to them to decide if the player is right for them and to recruit them. That honesty is something I pride myself on and has really helped the brand grow,” Livingston said.
After speaking with over 100 coaches at the Final Fours 2015, one point that really made an impression on Livingston was that although many coaches have their Class of 2015 line-up complete there are also a lot of coaches who are urgently seeking last minute recruits to fill out their teams. This situation arises when there are last minute transfers, withdrawals and injuries which cannot be predicted ahead of time. This is a really important time for any Class of 2015 players from Australia and New Zealand still seeking scholarships. Don’t give up! There may well be a school out there looking for someone exactly like you.