July Survival Guide for the Average Player

For thousands of players this month is a very important one. Hundreds of tournaments, camps, and showcases are going on in gyms across the country. This is a very important time for players of all shapes and sizes. July is where dreams are made and shattered with each event that passes.

For great players that are getting recruited by every school that they want a good or bad summer won’t impact you all that much. For the average player that is on the cusp of a scholarship or jumping a level of recruitment you need a plan of attack. It never helps you just to go into the live period with no plan of attack. This is a very big time in your future and it can’t be taken lightly.

The biggest mistake that players make in July is that you need to take every shot possible to lead every event in scoring. To me there is nothing furthest from what coaches want to see than a potential recruit jacking up every shot. It is important for you to understand what coaches like to see in a player. Not every coach wants to see players scoring talent only as they want to see you play within a team atmosphere.

I understand camps and showcases are structured around individual play. Players these days are 1-on-1 oriented as it is and you add college coaches in the stands and its every man/woman for themselves. Don’t fall into that trap of trying to shoot every time. It is important to show coaches that you aren’t a non-scorer, but it is much more important for coaches to see how you play with four other teammates as well as impact a team’s winning.

I’m going to give you advice for both AAU Tournaments and Camp/Showcase events and what philosophy you should take on each. I think this will give you a good understanding of what to plan for on both types of events.


An AAU tournament is probably the best place to show a college coach what type of player that you are. For most teams the players have been playing with each other for a while and resembles some type of structure. It’s a little bit easier to show coaches your ability to impact winning in this environment as you have plays, defenses, and a certain familiarity with each other so it is a better place to show your talents off.

In games it is important to be able to move without the ball. Show coaches your ability to read how defenders are playing you and if they are overplaying you somewhere go somewhere else. Passing at any position is important as giving teammates easy scoring opportunities shows coaches that you are unselfish and committed to passing up shots to give to teammates.

Whenever you have an easy or an open shot don’t be afraid to take it. Show coaches that you have the ability to score when open. Like I said earlier, you don’t ever want to have coaches think that you are a non scorer. There is a big difference between being a pig with the ball and taking every shot and someone who wants to pass up every shot. You want to be in the middle where you take open and easy shots, but also pass to teammates when they are open.

I mentioned cutting off of the ball. Being able to move without the ball is big as it shows your intelligence as well as it also open up scoring opportunities when done well. Another skill that you can show is your ability to set screens. If you are a post player and the player guarding you is slow set a ball screen on your point guard and force a switch putting a slower big man guarding your point guard giving them an advantage to score. Set a screen for one of your teammates off of the ball to free them up for a shot Setting good screens off of the ball also forces switching by your opponent putting smaller players guarding bigger ones and vice versa. You can create scoring opportunities for your team by screening well, again showing coaches that you impact winning.

The last two things that you can do to impress coaches is rebounding and defense. I don’t care what position you play point guard to center you have to be able to rebound. You don’t have to be a big and strong player to be able to rebound, just be active and be able to read where the ball will bounce off the rim. Show that you aren’t all about scoring and that you can pull in 3-4 rebounds a game as a perimeter player and 7-10 rebounds as a big man.

Defense is such a forgotten thing in the summer. Shut your opponent down and stop them from scoring. Being able to defend is what separates good players from great ones. Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest scorers ever to play in the NBA. What separates him from most of the other wing players ever to play is his ability to dominate both ends of the ball. For Kobe he loves the fact that he’s been All-NBA 1st team for 10 straight years. What he cares about even more that he’s been voted NBA All-Defensive 1st team 9 times. Take pride in stopping your opponent, show coaches that you are dedicated on both ends of the floor.


This is one of the toughest environments to improve your stock as a player, especially if you aren’t a marquee talent. Most of the camp coaches revolve the team around the best rated talent. As this is great for the high end player for the average player not so much. Just understand that you aren’t the only one that wants to make a name for themselves. There are 200 to 600 other players thinking the same thing at the camp so understand that.

I’m not a big fan of this big exposure camp especially the ones with 500-600 kids in it as it’s harder for players that don’t have a reputation with coaches to showcase themselves. Just go into the situation understanding that you may not get the ball a lot so you need to maximize every touch and opportunity.

Don’t take your frustrations out on the court by just trying to jack up shots. Show your ability to create space to get easy shots. Your goal should be to take as many uncontested shots as possible. There is nothing worse than watching an average player try to take a game over and force bad shots. I don’t like when good players do it either, but especially average ones. Show your intelligence and ability to free yourself up, use fakes, and move.

Show your ability to make plays off of the ball. Set screens for your team, run the floor, and rebound. Coaches love passers show your ability to make easy passes that lead to scores. Same idea from the AAU tournaments, show them that you can rebound at any position. The more activity that you show off of the ball will maximize your ability to show coaches that you can help them win.

The final thing is the ability to play defense. Again, you should have pride in wanting to stop people. Also be able to help off of your man to take a charge if your teammate gets beat. Show coaches that you understand what is going on off of the ball and you are a smart player.

There is nothing harder than trying to play with players that you have never been with before. I know at your age it is tough to interact with people that you don’t know, but you have to make the best of it. In the NBA they ask people trying out or working out for their team to do the same thing so make the best of it.

In closing all I have to say is July is one crazy month. There are so many events to choose from and it is a tough time to adjust. The best way to make a name for yourself is to play with your AAU team as it is a team in which you are used to and spent time with and know them the best. Even though there are so many knocks against AAU, at least it has some sense of organization as far as the players in which you play with. But with camps there are plenty of opportunities to make a name for yourself.

Understand this coaches want players that can help them win and it doesn’t necessarily mean to get the best scorers. They need to find players that impact winning and our coachable. They aren’t looking for selfish players that are more worried about scoring 30 than their team winning. That is something that many players don’t understand and they end up hurting themselves more than helping. I’ve seen so many players get scholarships for helping their team win championships in the summer as coaches want roll players that can step in to their program and understand how to play within a team. Players who understand how to play a roll and be coachable are the ones that go further than others with their talent level.

There are only so many players that get to shoot the ball a lot for a team, so understand how to play with 4 others as that will take you very far in basketball. Further than averaging 30 points a game this summer as your team was 1-20. Think about that, or do you want to be like the hundreds of others that didn’t figure it out and never got that call from a school that they were waiting for. Prep schools averaging cost is about $25,000 an expensive investment because you didn’t know how to separate yourself in the summer.

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