1. Be willing to work hard. Can you define hard work? For a top level high school and college coach, here is what hard work means. Your attitude and demeanor on the courts needs to be intense, focused, aggressive and no-nonsense. Your play should include taking charges, diving on the floor for loose balls, running the floor, constant “in your face” pressure on the ball when defending, strong attack moves to the hoop which are effective. Effective=ends with a basket.
2. Be powerful. Great players are not pushed around. They dictate the tempo, intensity, rhythm of the game. You decide where you want to go or not go on offense, not your opponent. On defense, you decide where your opponent goes. You disrupt his or her game. Learn to use your body to impose your WILL both offensively and defensively.
3. Be smart and understand the system. Every coach has a system and philosophy to be successful. You need to know what he or she wants. Some teams require a point guard to have no more than 3 turnovers a game. If you take too many risks on that team as a point guard you are going to sit down. Know what the coach values. Does he or she value conservative play? Does he or she want run and gun? See the big picture and learn how to play within this system.
4. Be strong, fast and quick. These are the separators between high school athletes who will go on to the college level. One of our alum campers playing in the NBA is an amazing athlete a premier shooter, but he is getting beat on defense because his foot speed is too slow to stop a player one-on-one and even though he is 6’7″ he is not strong enough in the post. We want him to do well and encourage him to work on his strength and speed, to get a program and work it hard.
Be sure to meet with a physical therapist as well as a trainer because you need to know what you must do to prevent injury. Live in the weight room during the off-season.
5. Be humble and lead by example. Care about the team by being selfless and not concerned about your name in the paper. Do the little things well, serve others and you will be blessed.
6. Find the separators. God has given each of us natural abilities. A girl who is 6’3″ as a sophomore, really quick, long and strong may not have good skills but she will get letters from Division 1 programs. Coaches recruit body types. If you genetically do not have a Division 1 build, you have a much harder road. You have to rise above the multitude of athletes who all have the same dream. You have to find the separators: speed, strength, wisdom, leadership, shooting, passing, impeccable skills, and the WILL to work harder than your competition.