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  • Writer's pictureacoachsdiary

What Advice Would You Give…

My teammate and roommate in college's son was recently a first-round draft pick in the NBA. I asked him, "What advice would you give to the parents on my basketball team?"

I coach a 6th and 7th-grade girls' basketball team that has players who played up in the 15U EYBL circuit this past summer, so they are a group of high-level athletes for their age.

He started with a story. He said he was watching a top 10th grader play in a showcase event when the 10th grader's dad asked him about the process of getting an agent. He told the dad, "You have at least 3 or 4 years before you have to start thinking about an agent. Just make sure he has the best fall and winter he can have so he is ready for the summer. If you can keep doing that, everything else will take care of itself."

His message to the dad and to my parents was:

Don’t get caught up in the future; focus on getting better right now. What flaws and holes do you see in your daughter’s game? Fix those and continue to do so.

- Can she dribble, pass, and shoot with both hands?

- Can she score at all three levels?

- Can she guard her position?

- Can she play help defense and talk on defense?

- Does she know how to run an offense?

- Can she set, use, and defend different types of screens?

- Can you box out and rebound?

- Can she shoot off the dribble and catch?

- Can she close out on shooters without getting beat?

- Can she make the right decision at the right speed?

He said, "So often, we get caught thinking about the future, but when I come to see your kid play, will I see glaring holes in her game, or will I see a complete player? Every step of the way, make sure she is developing into a complete basketball player. If you do that, and she is having fun, she will have a chance to play at the college level."

So many of us parents are chasing rankings, photoshoots at unofficial visits, and scholarship offers for elementary and middle school kids when those things don't matter and don't happen.

He very frankly said, "Nobody cares about 6th-grade girls basketball except the people and families in the gym. It doesn't move the needle as much as you think or hope. Just make sure your kid is having fun, having a good experience, and getting better!"

If she is doing all that when she is in high school, identify 5 schools she might be able to play at. Go watch them play, preferably in person, so you can see what it looks like. Go watch a practice so you can see if you can play at that level. Attend their camps in the summer so you can get on their radar.

The better you are, the more opportunities will open up to you. Don't get your feelings hurt when she isn't getting the opportunities you think you deserve; work harder.

I remember when his son was in the 4th grade. I saw his journey. Every year, they set new goals based on his strengths and weaknesses. He said every new year is like a new level on a video game. To get to the next level, you have to continue to get better. Every new skill you master puts you at a new level.

When his son was 15 years old, the critics said he could shoot from outside, so all summer he showed them his range.

When he was 16 years-old, they said he had no mid-range game, so he showed them his pull-up and floater.

Going into his last summer of AAU ball as a 17-year-old, they said he couldn't defend because he wasn't as athletic as some of his higher-ranked peers. That summer, he guarded the best player on every team, and he tried to dunk every time he touched the paint.

By the time he graduated high school, there were no glaring flaws in his game, he was a one-and-done college athlete, and now he is in the NBA, all because he focused on getting better today and did not let the future or outside noise distract him or his son.

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