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Going Pro after College

Playing professional after college is the dream for many high school students and college athletes, but its a competitive journey. Make sure to also focus on school, as having a degree will take off a lot of pressure later on in your career. 

Key Takeaways

  • For most students, playing in college is the path to the pros
  • Take your education seriously, only a small number of student-athlete make it to the pros
  • View all official draft sports in the US, not all sports have a draft

1) Making it to the Pros

While some of the best athletes make it to the professional ranks at a young age, for the majority of players there is a better chance of getting to the professional level through competing in college and developing as an athlete.

Only about 2% of all college-athletes make it to the Pros: The major league drafts, as well as agents, use college sports as a pathway to pro selection. However, it is still a very challenging path- not more than 2% of NCAA athletes achieve a professional status. If you want to play professionally in the United States you would participate in the draft process organized by the professional league of your sport (keep in mind that each sport has a different draft process and eligibility requirements).

Not all sports have a draft: However, not all NCAA sports have a draft, but there are still opportunities to go pro. Many other sports have agents that sign athletes coming out of college and help get them contracts to represent brands and continue playing.

Playing Internationally: Additionally, there are many opportunities for collegiate athletes to play on professional teams around the world. In fact, in many other countries, american college athletes employ a great reputation. They are especially desirable and known for their high level of athleticism. Therefore, in many cases it is worth exploring professional careers overseas after a successful college career.

2) Official Draft Sports in the US

Sport League Draft Eligibility
Football National Football League Draft (NFL) Requires athletes to be 3 years removed from high school. Players are typically only chosen from the NCAA programs
Basketball National Basketball Association (NBA) Requires athletes to be 1 year out of high school. Players are chosen from the NCAA and from teams overseas
Hockey National Hockey League (NHL) Any north american athlete aged 18-20 may be selected. Any overseas player aged 18-21 is eligible to be selected. Players are selected from junior teams, high school, the NCAA, and overseas clubs
Baseball Major League Baseball (MLB) Only players from canada or  the U.S. and U.S. territories can be drafted. Players from elsewhere are free agents and can be signed by any team. Draftees are high-school graduates who opted not to go to college; college players at four-year institutions who have played three years or turned 21; or junior college baseball players.
Soccer Major League Soccer (MLS) Majority of draft prospects are NCAA college seniors. Generation adidas players and non-collegiate international players are also eligibleClubs may nominate players for the league’s Draft-Eligible List, and only players from that list may be selected.
Rugby Major League Rugby (MLR) First collegiate draft in 2020. Players are eligible for draft after 3 years in college at 21 years old. Free agents can try to join teams at 18 years old
Women’s Basketball Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Requires players to be at least 22, to have completed their college eligibility, to have graduated from a four-year college or to be four years removed from high schoolSince the draft is held in April, the league considers anyone scheduled to graduate in the 3 months after the draft as a “graduate”. International age limit is 20, and has never exercised intercollegiate basketball eligibility in the U.S.
Women’s Soccer National W Soccer League (NWSL) Eligible players are from the NCAA and NAIA who have completed their senior season or are no longer eligible to play collegiate soccerIf a collegiate player is eligible but does not register for the draft, the player will not be available for selection until the upcoming season is complete.

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