This past summer, while recruiting a D1 transfer student, Coach Jeff Curtis had an ace up his sleeve. Curtis cut his teeth as an assistant coach under the player’s dad before taking the reins of the Northwood women’s basketball team, which helps explain how he was able to get an audience with such a coveted prospect in the first place. “We’ve been family friends forever,” Curtis says. But the ace, it turned out, was an affordable sensor-based system that captures real-time stats and analytics: ShotTracker.

Northwood became the first D2 school in the country to install this affordable, cutting-edge tech in its home arena in June. Soon after, while the player was still mulling her options, her father swung by the gym along with her younger brother. Curtis was explaining to his mentor how the actionable intel that ShotTracker provides helps players improve their individual performance as the player’s brother strapped on a ShotTracker sensor and joined a scrimmage.

“When he got done playing,” Curtis says, “we pulled up his shot chart on the iPad. He and his dad were totally in awe. ShotTracker was a really big piece in the recruiting puzzle.”

Here, Coach Curtis talks about how both gaining and giving access to live analytics has instantly put the Timberwolves ahead of the game.

USING SHOTTRACKER AS A RECRUITING TOOL “Every single recruit we’ve talked to has been really impressed that we have this technology in our gym. It gives them the sense that we’re going to do everything we can to get a competitive advantage. We’re a small private school. We don’t always have the amenities that a larger school or even the schools in our league have. ShotTracker’s a game changer. It separates us from everybody else. We can say, ‘Hey, you wanna get better? Here’s one of the tools we’re gonna use to do that.’”

SEALING THE DEAL “We were still in the process of getting our recruit to commit when her dad and little brother came in. Transferring from D1 to D2, it was really important to her to know that she would have coaches who’d be willing to bend over backwards to help her succeed. Since committing, she’s been in the gym constantly with it. She’s gotten the most shots up of any player on our team. She thinks it’s the greatest thing in the world. So yeah, I think it’s safe to say that ShotTracker had a very significant impact on her decision. It definitely helped.”

KEEPING TABS “Once our players are out of class and into summer sessions, anything they do in the gym is on their own. Division 2 rules say there can’t be a coach present instructing them in any way, shape or form. But the players have 24/7 access to the gym and the sensors are in our locker room. And so far, five of our current players and a couple of incoming kids who live nearby have been driving up here to get workouts in. The feedback we get from ShotTracker has been really beneficial for us. Now we can see how they did.”

PUSHING PLAYERS TO STEP UP THEIR GAME “ShotTracker is super-beneficial from our players’ standpoint, too. Now they know where they need to focus their attention, based on the data that they get. Our players have become a lot more interested in getting into the gym. They don’t have to track shots manually in a notebook anymore. ShotTracker gives them more freedom to get a really good workout in.”

LOOKING AHEAD “I think ShotTracker is only going to continue to breed that mentality once our team is back on campus. We put a lot of emphasis on getting more shots up outside of practice, and this is going to be the monster in the closet, saying “We know what you’ve been doing so don’t come in here talking about playing time if you haven’t put the time in.” During practice, we used to have various managers manually statting everything from shots taken and made to rebounds, turnovers, deflections, paint touches...but the stats weren’t always 100 percent accurate, and the players would get frustrated. With this technology, stats don’t lie. We’re really fired up about that. The minute our players walk in from practice, we’re going to be able to flip on the monitor in the locker room and show them the leaderboard. It’s going to hold everyone accountable.”

Though Northwood is the first D2 school to install ShotTracker, there are six men’s programs in the Big 12 alone — including national power Kansas — that are already leveraging access to live analytics as a persuasive recruiting tool. It won’t be long before top-ranked, outgoing high-school seniors will come to expect tech like ShotTracker to be among the list of a program’s perks and amenities. Big or small, ShotTracker gives every program the power to amaze.