* This last weekend I had a chance to check out the second to last day of the Adidas Super 64 tournament, an AAU event featuring the top high school prospects in the country. The majority of these players are going into their Senior year of high school.
So instead I’ll just try to compare the two events. Without a doubt the biggest difference between the players at the Super 64 and their european counterpart is the superior athleticism in the States. There are countless more big and athletic players in the states than in Europe. The players are faster, stronger, quicker, and jump higher. But are they better basketball players? That I’m not so sure of. The decision making and skill sets of those same athletes I think is inferior to the skill sets of their European counterparts.
Despite the superior athleticism in the States, the decision making and skill sets in players coming out of Europe makes it extremely difficult to try and answer the question of where are the better players. I don’t know but if you put some of those athletes in front of some of the top coaches in Europe I think it would be a lethal combination.
I must mention that Shabazz Muhammed is a name that we will be hearing about in the coming years. But one of the problems that came to mind when watching some of these “men among boys” athletes is that they have really bad habits. Being bigger and stronger and faster than everyone else can be a blessing or a curse, depending on when that point arrives (if you grow early or late) and how it is used. Many of the most physically gifted players had some of the worst habits because they can get by using their athleticism and are never forced to learn the proper fundamentals.
At 6-6 Shabazz was the most complete player in Las Vegas at the Super 64 in terms of combining athleticism, size and skill set.
Coming back on the plane from Europe I sat next to a middle aged woman who had worked various jobs during her life: personal trainer, actress, and personal assistant are the ones that I remember. She also competed at a high level as an ironman triathlete.
As our discussions rambled from one topic to another I began to hear ideas and activities that I could use with my team on the basketball court. Activities she had practiced while recovering from injury to try and overcome the fear of failure and others to help actors focus on the moment were a couple of topics that I played with in my head as to how to incoporate those things with my team to help them become mentally tough, a major objective heading into next season.
But the thing that was most clear was that we must learn from everyone, not only when talking to a top level coach or while sitting in the classroom as a student.
With so much around us we must learn how to learn from everyone and at the time the opportunity presents itself.
It’s important for coaches and players or really anyone involved with athletics or education to use the off season as a time to get better. It’s important that during the year we are constant and don’t change things up too much. In the off season it’s important that we make the necessary changes and find ways to get better. One way I like to try and improve is listening to interviews of people that have been to the top of the mountain.
Yesterday I arrived back to Barcelona from a fantastic week in a town outside of Cadiz in the South of Spain. A beautiful place and an even more beautiful experience. It was a basketball and surf camp and I just really enjoyed myself both on the court teaching and off the court hanging out with the kids and Jose who is a coaching friend from the Curso Superior last summer in San Sebastian. We went beyond basketball and really tried to provide a positive all around experience for the kids and everyone up to the bus driver became completely immersed in this extremely positive environment we created.
We were successful in creating a team atmosphere in a very short time.
We were up at about 7 each day and starting basketball @ 9. Jose and I began preparing the on court sessions a couple months ago and the planning paid off as I think the kids learned alot on the court and I learned alot from the kids off of the court. Everyone involved in the camp gave it 100% and the camp was a big success. Just want to say thank you to everyone involved and hopefully everyone took as much away from the camp as I did and I look forward to more experiences like this in the future.
Kevin Eastman said in one of his podcasts to never turn down a basketball opportunity and that was the thought process for agreeing to do this small summer camp. And I have no doubt in my mind that that is some great advice for a coach to follow and this last week was proof.