Fifth-year and postgraduate players are becoming a huge phenomenon on the recruiting scene. While there always have been prep schools and postgraduates, the number of top basketball players who have chosen this route has risen exponentially over the past few years. Watching a prep school game between two of the top teams in the country these days is almost like watching a college game. The players' size, strength and ability are off the charts. In many cases, the players are 19 and 20 years old.
This category of players is becoming increasingly important, as many of the top players signed last month by the major basketball powers throughout the country are postgraduates. Many players over the past 5-10 years have decided they would benefit from an additional year of growth and maturation, physically, academically and basketball-wise. Others have decided on the prep-school route so they can have an extra year to work on their core curriculum to meet the NCAA requirements and be eligible to receive a scholarship as a freshman in college.
Some players who have struggled academically in high school are actually better off not graduating from their high school and instead enrolling for the following year at a prep school. According to the NCAA, a student-athlete can improve his academic core curriculum as a fifth-year student as long as he has not graduated. The move also allows a player to attempt to improve his SAT/ACT test scores.