In any profession in which you work developing value should be your number one goal. There are too many people on this planet that just want to be part of the pack never wanting to better themselves to add value to their profession. Long term thinking must be something that must be a daily routine.
As an assistant coach in college, you must bring value to your head coach and making their job easier. First off there are very few paid positions in basketball and you should feel grateful for being there and never take that for granted. Being a college assistant is one thing, being one that can make your head coach’s job easier is a completely different level.
Players are the lifeblood of any level of basketball. You can be Popovich, Jackson, Auerbach, Pitino, and Calipari put together as a coach, but if you don’t have talent sustaining a winning program is impossible. Recruiting new talent into your program must be something that you take seriously and do with a purpose. Don’t just follow the rest of the people in your business and keep the same standard, be different and do something that sets you a part from the rest.
I’ve been around college coaches for 20 years and I’ve met every type of coach there is. The majority of assistants that I speak to about players that they see give me a lot of the standard answers of “he can play”, “he can really score the ball”, or my personal favorite “he’s a baller”. My answer always to those standard answers is what the hell does that mean? Coaches should understand what players do to help their teams win. I cant stand coaches/scouts that flood their sentences with terminology. If a coach/scout can’t tell me in Layman’s terms why a player can or can’t play they are a fraud to me.The test that I give coaches is I get them out of their comfort zone and start asking basketball questions about the player. I know the assistant is legit if he answers back , but if he looks at me like he ate a snowcone too fast I know that he is just a used car salesman and really doesn’t know what he is looking at.
When you bring players into your program it is a gamble just like they are gambling on you to get them better as people and players. Bringing in multiple mistakes basketball/attitude wise can put your head coach in a tough spot. You must get every piece of information that you can acquire about the players that you are recruiting before you pull the trigger on a commitment/ scholarship. As an assistant it is up to you to acquire as many assets for your head coach to have on his roster as possible. Making sure that you can properly evaluate the players that you are serious about in your recruiting should take precedent.
We all know that the game is in a different stage than it was 15 years ago. Very few players separate themselves as players than they did back n that time. Identifying players is something that should be taken seriously and studied a little bit more than usual. Anyone can go to high school games and talk to HS coaches or summer coaches to get information about players. Everyone in your business does that and as it can be good information that you are getting going in other directions can help as well.
First of all as far as the basketball is concerned does that player that you are recruiting have a skill that can get him in a game for your coach? Can they shoot, pass, get in the lane, guard people, etc. Just because they can dribble around 25 times hunting their shot time in and time out for their summer team doesn’t mean they can play for your coach. Identifying how they fit in with your team is very important, don’t just bring in players because they can score they need to be able to play a role.
Don’t be afraid of taking players that are under the radar or less talented as long as they have a definitive skill. Every player has warts in their game that we can discuss, but as long as they can do 1 thing really well those other warts seem to be smaller in retrospect. There are too many stories that haunt coaches because they chose not to take players because of lack of height/athletic ability but ended up being great players. I remember a player that I coached in AAU 17 years ago named Pat Bradley. He was a 6’0 guard that wasn’t quick or athletic, but was one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen. Everytime I spoke to a Big East assistant about him they gave me a laundry list of excuses why he couldn’t play at their level. Well after having nothing but Division two and low division 1 offers he had a tremendous summer and got offered by Nolan Richardson and Arkansas and was one of the best three point shooters in the history of the SEC.
Like I previously stated any coach can watch games and evaluate if a player can play. You have to do a little more digging into what kind of player they are. I think what can help your networks is if you talk to all the coaches in that player’s league. Ask them about them and how hard was it to get ready for that player. I think talking to coaches that aren’t connected to the player can give you good insight into if that player can play or not. Also what that does is develops your relationships with more coaches that may go on to other jobs and give you access to more players down the road.
Don’t just sign off on a player because they play well and put up numbers for their high school or summer team. Make that next step and really gather as much intel on them as possible. Character is a big deal and if they are selfish players that don’t compete when things get hard they will be a long shot to help your team win. You have to bring in high character to your program, taking too many questionable attitudes is like playing Russian roulette for your team in your locker room.
If you are in a position to subscribe to scouting services make sure you have them give you background on the kids. Anyone can be a scout and tell you who can play or who cant. If they are true scouts they should be able to give you intelligence on the players in their area. If they only give you rankings and reports that is not enough. If you are doing your job, most of the players that they give you reports on are players
that you already know about. Who cares if player x can only go right and has length, you should want to know if that kid is a winning player or someone that has character issues. If they can’t come up with that info then you should drop them and subscribe to the people who know that information.
You should always evaluate yourself and push to get better in all aspects of your job. Keep notes on your players that you recruit even the ones that you didn’t get. Go back to your notes and keep tabs on those players and find out why they made it or failed. Continue to try not to repeat the same mistakes in the future. Everyone in the business will make mistakes on evaluating players that is a way of life. The ones that repeat those mistakes are the ones that will be phased out of coaching because of this.
Another thing is your coach is counting on your and trusts you to do the job that you get paid to do. Not many people can say they get paid to be in basketball. As important as you think you are, you are totally replaceable make no mistakes about it. Don’t get to the point where your head coach is talking to himself about how his assistants are brining in players that are bad kids or just aren’t good enough to compete at their level. Because it only takes a bad class two to get them thinking. Believe me as important as you think you are and how your coach can live without you there is nothing further than the truth.
Anyone can work hard in this game as it is the standard I get business cards and email from people all day every day telling me how hard they work. I don’t care about hard work, I care about people who bring me results and get the job done. Don’t pat yourself on the back about how good you are because there is someone right behind you ready to slit your throat to get an opportunity to get it better.