Basketball Players and the Lies People Tell Them

April 8, 2010

I have to say that this article, published on HoopsWorld.com, and written by Steve Kyler, really hit home with me. When the article discusses “runners”, these are guys I’ve dealt with and interacted with many times when scouting a player or teams:

A “runner” – an employee of the agent gets close to the player and his family – makes the initial relationship. When it’s time for the athlete and the family to make the decision, a lot of times the runner acts as an intermediary feeding informed information to the family about what teams are scouting the player and what teams may have the player in their rankings.

Yes, and those guys are the ones completely unregulated by the NCAA, and they try to get close to kids and eventually get a payoff. When you are a lifelong fan of basketball, you tend to see athletes from their televised games, and that’s usually when their presence has reached a much higher maturity. NBA players have to be really polished, comfortable in interviews, articulate. That’s something that a lot of us learn as we become adults, we shed the slang and sometimes self-conscious speech of our teenage years and become confident and communicative. But high school basketball players are kids, regardless if they are 6’8″ and can dunk like madmen, they still are teenagers. Most players I’ve personally met are actually polite and respectful, something I’m not sure could have been said about myself at their age.

But teenagers don’t have the world experience of adults. One thing you learn as you actually move out from school age to ‘real life’ is an ability to survive a very harsh world, and these ‘runners’ are slick talkers who can get into a kid’s good graces all too easily. For many young players who come from meager backgrounds, they have very little knowledge of their own real worth and very little understanding of how to find out things like if they actually have an NBA career ahead of them, or whether they are really on a coach’s radar. Many players and their families whom I’ve met don’t know basic things like the fact that college coaches don’t scout players by reading your local paper’s box score. When a guy shows up at their kid’s game and tells them he knows a couple of college coaches (which he likely does), the parents and the kid think they’ve gotten lucky and that this guy is the only person who can land them a big time scholarship.

This can be disasterous when players have a legitimate shot at a pro career. Even players who are talented enough to land on an NBA roster can miss out, especially if they are not prepared or if they are not talented enough to really make a splash in the NBA. That won’t stop the hangers-on from filling kids’ heads with visions of dollar signs and SportsCenter highlights:

Beyond the top three prospects this year – John Wall, Derrick Favors and Evan Turner – the next ten players could go in any combination of orders, and while “a runnner” may say “Dude you’re a lock for the top 19” there is no truth or substance to those claims.

That doesn’t stop players from making a bad decision on an empty promise. Have you ever asked yourself, what is this kid thinking?

The article goes on to explain a bit about how players can get paid even while in high school and college, and there’s not much the NCAA will do about it. It’s a huge gaping hole in the system, this part is 100% true:

Let’s make one thing clear: whether directly or indirectly, most of the college players projected in the top 100 have an agent or someone involved with an agent in their lives and likely have had that since AAU basketball.

It’s hard for young players to understand what they’re involved in and even harder for kids who come from families without a lot of good parental guidance.

Read the full article here.


NCAA Throws the Booklet at Indiana

November 26, 2008

It was pretty obvious that Kelvin Sampson broke NCAA rules while recruiting high school players when he was the Indiana Hoosiers basketball coach. When Sampson left the Hoosiers and went on to be an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks, he left IU holding the bag and Hoosier fans worried that the NCAA would lower the boom on their beloved program, sending it further down the road into basketball obscurity.

It seems that the NCAA realized that Sampson was the person responsible and not so much the school, which means that even though the Hoosiers only forfeit one scholarship and are on three years of probation, Sampson cannot recruit players until 2012, and then only in a limited fashion. This is designed to keep Sampson out of college basketball for at least five years.

Of course, I have to bring up the fact that Sampson already ignored recruiting rules, and he apparently lied to the NCAA, so if he landed another coaching job before the five years is up, what’s to really prevent him from breaking the rules again?

The best part about all of this is Sampson’s official reaction, a statement which said he was “deeply disappointed” by the NCAA ruling and “things that happened on my watch and therefore I will take responsibility.” Uh…yeah, ok. You made phone calls to recruits. That’s a far cry from ‘happened on my watch’ and it’s even farther from ‘take full responsibility’. Taking full responsibility means admitting that you, Kelvin Sampson, repeatedly called players when you weren’t supposed to, even though you knew the rules. It means admitting that you not only knew the rules, but you did it because you thought it would help you land those players. It means admitting that you cheated, you knew you were cheating, and you did it anyway, and you shouldn’t have. That’s taking ‘full responsibility’.

All Sampson is doing is what has become common in the United States culture: break the rules, break the law, and then, even when caught, admit nothing. Then, go on about your life as though nothing ever happened and wait for people to forget.

Although I honestly don’t know how seriously making extra phone calls really ranks on the ‘rule breaking’ scale, it bothers me more that Sampson can’t even admit to this minor offense.


Coaching Basketball: The Secret Weapon

September 4, 2008

If you’ve ever been to a high profile AAU event, or been fortunate enough to be watching a closed team practice of a high profile NCAA team, you probably have seen a famous coach or two watching the action with a professional eye.

What if you could look over the shoulder of the best college coaches in the country, to see what they were writing on their notepad as they watched practice or a pickup game? What do they see? How will they describe the action? What magic do they have to impart on the players that will get those elusive wins, the championships, the NBA contracts?

How many more games could you win? How much better could you develop your players?

You might be shocked (and amazed!) that you can get your hands on those personal notes. Yes, really.

I’m talking Roy Williams, Bobby Knight, Bob McKillop. Bruce Pearl. Rick Pitino and Billy Donavon.

Okay, let that sink in, because I’m not done. And I am not kidding.

What about also getting notes from Bobby Cremmins and Coach K (yes, Olympic gold medal Coach K) to boot?

One of the coolest things I have ever come across is the Hoop Scoop coaching notes. It’s honestly hard to describe how fantastic Coach Peterman’s notes are, but suffice it to say, it is way more than a book on basketball drills or theory.

It is no frills. The buy links on his site are not fancy, and the description of the book is even a bit vague. But it doesn’t need any of that marketing fluff because this package is absurdly good.

Coach Peterman has creds of his own, having coached at (Southwestern Oklahoma State University), NAIA (USAO), and JUCO Levels (Blinn College and Carl Albert State College) as well as high school. What he’s done is assemble basketball IQ from some of the greatest basketball minds in history.

The Hoop Scoop notes are personal notes – usually handwritten notes – of some of the greatest coaches ever to step on the court.

This is the personal insight of some of the greatest coaching minds. I think anyone who loves the game of basketball, coaches basketball at any level or plays basketball at any level should have a copy.

Consider just some of the things in these notes:

– Bobby Knight’s notes including the most underused move in basketball, and his concept of molding a game plan to personnel.

– Bruce Pearl’s 29 keys to an up-tempo transition defense, including tips for success, why the 1-2-1-1 full court press works and which book by a famous coach he recommends to help coaches and players get better.

– Roy Williams equation for why some talented players will get minutes in his system and why some will sit on the bench.

– The first thing Dave Odom teaches his players before anything else, and how he scouts other offenses and defenses

– The star players that Bill Russell and Bill Walton say you don’t want playing on your team.

– What John Wooden talked about more than winning and losing

– Gary Williams’ 11 points to implement pressure defense.

– Rick Pitino’s individual shooting workout for his players.

– Individual skill development from Billy Donavon, what he teaches first, and what specific points he teaches in specific drills such as the three man weave.

Honestly, I could go on and on. These notes are exhaustive, and trying to convey how much information is in there is almost impossible. It’s like pouring the greatest basketball knowledge in history through a funnel into your head…I’m shocked that these electronic books are so cheap.

The only thing I can say is that if you are a coach, a player or a serious fan, the only thing more astounding than the amount of great basketball knowledge is how little they cost. In an age where coaches’ clinics can run thousands of dollars, Coach Peterman’s notes are available for $14.95, and what’s even better, you can download them. I will tell you that the notes make up a BIG file…like 300 MB. This isn’t some thrown together e-book, this is the real deal and it will take a while to digest it. You can get it by clicking below:

Basketball Coaching Notes

There are several different versions of the notes available, but the first one I recommend is the Encyclopedia of Individual Instruction and Coaching Clinics.