Thursday, July 30, 2020

Recruiting in a "THE CORONA ERA"

Well, it is obvious that "RONA" has cancelled Spring and now Summer evaluation periods.  Word is on the street that NCAA will adapt and provide colleges an opportunity to view players in September.  

So, what now?

1. Be honest with yourself and create an attainable list of colleges

When looking at schools that you want to attend, create a list of things that you want out of your college experience. Do your homework and make sure that the academics and athletic program aligns with your wants.

There likely won’t be a perfect match but if you come up with your non-negotiables (ex: Major, proximately to home, and style of play) you will be able to come up with 8-10 schools that you could envision yourself playing for, maybe more.

Then it's all about narrowing down the first draft, but be sure to be REALISTIC.  For example, If you are being recruited mostly at the D2 level, then focusing on D1's might not be the best way to speak your time.  

2. Speak up for yourself

Now that you have a "short list" hit the internet and look up the various programs' ENTIRE coaching staffs .  (Be strong and resilient because some coaches get many emails and might check immediately).

Here in a quick "resume style" where you should include all pertinent information, FULL games trump a highlight video, but send whatever you have access to be sure to include your stats,
awards you received and of course your GPA. And in today's world include social media ex. Twitter handle), your coach’s contact information and links to any articles that feature you.  

3. "Hi Coach - How are you?"

Now clear your voice, practice in the mirror and get on the phone and introduce yourself.

Here’s a cheat sheet.

Hey Coach ______, this is Fred Stephens. I’m a 2022 and I’m very interested in your program. I sent you and the coaching staff an email last week with some game film that I would love to get your feedback on the video and "resume" that I sent and if you have concluded your recruiting efforts for the upcoming year.

Your goal is to get a feel for the Coach and introduce yourself all the while answer any questions you might have.

Welp, enjoy the process and stay ready!

Thursday, July 09, 2020


During the 1970's and 1980's, many players' like most in urban cities, were infamous for their ability to create or reinvent games.  In doing so, and prior to the social media and computer crazed world, players bonded together, created a safe community which fostered "friendly" competition and solidified friendships.

Out of a sense of "lack of" players created a myriad games such as STICKBALL, hide & seek, and red light - green light 1-2-3 which became urban America staples, however it was four games that amplified players' basketball ability.


  • "21" - In different parts of the country the game goes by "UTAH", but the premise is the same.  The player with the ball competes against a group of players at which point, he/she looks to score two points.  After the player scores two points, he/she is rewarded by an opportunity to earn another 3 points by making 3 consecutive free throws at that point he/she will repeat the entire process.  If foul shot is missed, whoever grabs the rebound will become the offensive player where he/she will attempt to score on the entire group.  Generally, the first player to earn 21 points will be deemed the winner.   
  • "52" - The game is played with a group of players (ideally 2-3).  Players shoot from top of key (High School 3 point range) and all shots made from that spot will earn the shooter 5 points. At that point, after the 5 point shot is MADE (must make the 5 point shot to begin game) wherever the ball lands (stops) the shooter has the chance to earn another 2 points by converting they next shot. IF shooter converts both shots, he/she will repeat, but if the shooter only converts one of the two shots the next shooter will go. First shooter to reach 52 points is the winner.  

  • "TAG
 As we fast forward to today's world, we find that most of today's children are instead of playing "street games" are playing computer generated games and are NOT outside.  These games not only were fun, but they provided members of the community a sense of togetherness, enhanced player's self esteem, and the above (and other) "street games" created tougher and competitive players. In addition, via "athletic development" games players developed fast twitch muscles and learned movements that aided in the creation of an athletic player.

In conclusion, today we have tons of apparatuses that can aid the development of players, however there is NOTHING wrong with using the "basic" aka  old school approach especially today's "NEW NORM" world.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Gentrification of Basketball

“I am telling you- in 4/5 years only the upper middle class and rich families will be the only ones able to afford basketball training or even play on highly competitive travel teams” - Joe Fenelon (NYGHoops)

The above quote is from an informal phone conversation that our Mark Williams had with one of the country’s leading voices in girls’ basketball in 2015.  Although at the time such talk sounded “weird” for it did not fit the history of basketball.  Basketball was/is an urban sport for several reasons but none more important than the required co$ts attached to the game founded by a Dr.James Naismith. From the onset it became obvious that basketball, unlike other sports, requires very little equipment which makes it appealing to pretty much any and everyone. As evident by Dr. Naismith, simply nailing a peach basket to an old barn’s wall.

Not too long ago, HBO’s “Real Sports” did a segment where it highlighted youth sports as a 9 BILLION dollar industry.  In the 2017 episode, a “traditional family” spent on average of $15,000 each year for their two children to train and participate in youth sports.  (the number does not include food, travel, uniform and equipment)  Although the INVESTMENT seems out of sorts, it is pale in comparison to the ever growing costs of a college education.  

Just think about basketball from the 80’s & 90’s where the “teams” were made up of local (park) players (who lacked disposable income) had an “old” person would simply take players to tournaments and incurred all financial responsibilities.  In doing so, teams which became programs only selected the best players who competed for personal pride and territorial respect.

Now fast forward to the late 2000’s.  On a daily basis new teams appear and no longer are they led by an “old” person who handled all the finances for the local (park) players (who lacked disposable income) have been replaced by families who are willing to pay programs for training, travel, tournaments, and all associated fees.  This concept has been called “Gentrification of Youth Sports”.

Like with gentrification of neighborhoods - the people who built and maintained the local ethos are “priced out” and only those that have the financial resources are able to live in the newly curated environment.  As a result, players who lack re$ources are rarely on (highly competitive) travel teams where colleges / universities will be able to offer FULL scholarship opportunities.

In conclusion, the Gentrification of Basketball has become a REALity. 

Monday, June 01, 2020

Diversity is a blessing in the work place.

Welp, yet again - racism has taken ahold of America via another entry in a very long list of POCs “killt” at the hands (knee) of a member of the “Blue Wall” aka police fraternity.

This new chapter in the book of “untimely deaths” created a weird synergy amongst members of the POC community where most fully expect celebrities, entertainers, professional and college athletic departments who have done nothing but exploit (take from) #theCulture to suddenly reverse their “tone deafness” on social issues and to publicly condemn a system that most have never had to deal with- on a first hand basis.  At best, such thinking seems unrealistic.

This wishful thinking further supports our belief that most, in not ALL, sports departments/ staff should be made up of a cross section of the population in which they intend to work with and/or target and such diversity would allow people/departments to act in a timely, thoughtful and “on point” matter.  Just imagine, an event occurs involving a POC and such an event forces a country to face a NASTY REALity that has been omnipresent from its beginning. Quite sure that professional teams and college athletic departments/staffs that are blessed with a diverse staff WOULD NOT wait 5/6 days to make a public statement on such an generational event.

In closing, perhaps professional teams / college departments should consult with Merriam-Webster’s Definition of Diverse (see below) prior to creating a staff as we head into the next decade.



Merriam-Webster’s Definition of Diverse

1: differing from one another

2: composed of distinct or unlike elements or qualities

Friday, May 22, 2020


There is no doubt the current situation has put a damper on the life as we once knew, however with change comes an opportunity to grow and advance.

Many people have used the “shelter in” / “stay home” narrative to become and in some cases remain relevant by way of social media platforms.  Whether via Tik Tok, Periscope (Twitter), and of course the ever growing use of Instagram’s “Live” platform many are turning their cell phone's into a broadcast station.  

Although we applaud such ventures and exposure to a wide variety of “interviews” we are left with several post COVID-19 questions.

  • Sustainability - As life returns to “normalcy” will the interviews cease due to life being life?
  • Duplication - Granted there are tons of people to “talk” to via social media, but how many (same) stories are worth being heard on various platforms?
  • Organization - With everyone have the same abilities and access to create a platform perhaps the creation of IGlive Guide is needed.  This will allow viewers to focus on one interview as opposed to jumping in & out of each event.

In conclusion, we are thrilled that people are using their time wisely by taking advantage of  their “apps”, however as with most things in life remaining consistent is a must.  In addition, the introduction of fresh, up and coming guests are essential to a long standing presence in the ever changing landscape. Not to mention, having a sense of respect (professionalism) for others who have "stuck their toe" in the media muddy waters. 

So keep creating and #STAYSAFE

Sunday, July 22, 2018


As we read various publications and monitor the different social media outlets we are forced to read/watch a lot of "stuff" that can help as well as hinder a players' basketball development.

It seems like yesterday, when we "tossing" tennis balls in the air and trying re-create the (basketball) "wheel".   Through various trials and tribulations, we decided to focus our development program on OLD FASHION fundamental based tenets.  It was at this point, (circa 2010) we created our 7 DEADLY BASKETBALL SKILL list. (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

1). Passing
2), Ball Handling
3). Shooting
4). Footwork
5). IQ development
6). Defense
7). "Tool Box" development

As we fast forward to 2018, this skill list has become the bedrock of our development program.  We would contend the "new age" of training is in fact innovative, but despite the "out of the box" training techniques that may exist the idealogy builds upon the aforementioned skills.

We urge players and skill trainers to TRY as many aids, tricks, etc as possible to enhance a players skill set, but while doing so - please ask yourself "would you train Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Pau Gasol, Lebron James or Tim Duncan with the same "innovative" drills or will you revert back to the SE7EN DEADLY BASKETBALL SKILL list?

Sunday, October 01, 2017


According to Webster, LOYAL means "An unswerving in allegiance. Faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product". Although many people claim such status, however as it relates to the basketball landscape this concept "looks good on paper".   

As a basketball training company, we have heard stories about AAU/CYO organizations (coaches) preaching to parents/players the importance of program loyalty yet on a yearly basis coaches switch programs without any type of backlash from their peers.  Last year, we spoke to a parent regarding in speaking with a coach regarding his child playing for another AAU team.

US: "So are you playing with _____ in the upcoming spring tourney"?
PARENT: "No, we are NOT playing in the tourney at all"
US: "Why?"
PARENT: "Our team is not entering a team in our age group"
US: "So, why not play for another team so you can get under the whistle"
PARENT: "We do not want to upset the apple cart"
US: "Huh, but okay"

HINDSIGHT: At season's end, the anxious (talented) player - not only missed out on an opportunity to play on a different team for the mentioned program, but later was "dropped" from "home" team being that the entire program was absorbed by another program.  Meanwhile, the "coach" left for a rival program.
As a college basketball fan, we have heard the stories about college/univeristies preaching to parents/players and convincing the media about the importance of program loyalty, yet on a yearly basis coaches switch programs without any type of backlash from their peers. Recently, the NCAA put forth a rule that could change the landscape of all athletic programs throughout the country. The proposed rule would allow any athlete to transfer from one school to another without having to sit a year. Such a proposed rule has caught flack from coaches throughout the entire industry. 

SCOTT DREW ( INTERVIEW.  "It would be the worse rule ever.  It would be the wild, Wild West.  Coaches don't agree on everything. On this, I think we'd be UNANIMOUS" 

HINDSIGHT: It is well documented that NCAA coaches make millions of dollars leading young men and women in "athletic battle" some, like Scott Drew, raked in over 2 million for the 2015/16 academic year.  There is no secret their livelihood depends on student-ATHLETES who can perform on a high level, however is it fair for the coaches to not to heed their own words of loyalty?  Especially, when MANY coaches "switch" colleges on a yearly basis.

As a business, we have heard stories about professional teams preaching to agents/players and convincing the media about the importance of team loyalty yet on a yearly basis players are traded from team to team.  In April of 2017 in the midst of the Eastern Conference playoffs, (former) Boston Celtic star IsaiahThomas lost his sister in a deadly car crash in Tacoma, Washington.   Although Mr. Thomas, felt anguish, he decided to continue to perform for the Celtics as they battled the Chicago Bulls.  He cited his family, the fans and organization's support and loyal as a reasons to continue the basketball journey.  These sentiments were echoed by the team's brass yet in August (2017) Isaiah was sent packing to "THE LAND" for fellow all star performer and "loyalist" Kyrie Irving.  

KEVIN DURANT (Bill Simmons' Podcast) INTERVIEW. “Guys have been getting traded in their sleep for years. Guys have been getting the shitty end of the stick for years. I mean, some guys have been fucking over organizations, too. It’s no loyalty. It’s business. There’s money involved.”


Q. So, the question remains - who has "An unswerving in allegiance. Faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product".