I don’t know if there is something in the water, food, or it's genetics, but long gone are the days of being surprised by ANYTHING any young high school or even middle school player is able to do athletically. Between the leg dunks, alley-oops on peoples heads, backboard breaking power, these kids, or better yet men, are turning the page to a new era of freakish athleticism. All of this is awesome. Really, it’s amazing, and the casual basketball fan (and even the veteran of the game) loves watching it. I know I still get fix from a crazy, in game, windmill dunk. However, there is only one problem with the new era, of Sportscenter highlight, freak of nature athletic basketball. It’s becoming all young players can do. I've sat through 14 tournaments since December, and countless camps, and I have been incredibly disappointed with the overall lack of skill of the modern day player, and specifically the inability of the modern day player to shoot the ball. Let’s break down why this unsettling trend has crept up in the game of basketball.
It’s way “cooler” to dunk than to make open threes
The old saying, “chicks dig the long ball” for baseball players, accurately can be equated to, “chicks dig the dunk” on the basketball court. However, the problem with this, and this has been documented time and time again, is players are buying into themselves, enough people are telling them how great they are because they have God given athletic ability, and no one is doing the gritty, less than cool things, it takes to become a great shooter. There are no shortcuts. Shots. Get more shots ups. When you think you are a great shooter, get more shots up. Repetition is the name of the game, but it’s tedious, long hours that get very little credit. In the past being the guy that could rise above a defender and throw it down in traffic was the rare special guy. However, I can tell you after spending the last year and a half at the Hoop Group and watching thousands of young players, that this kid is everywhere!! The rare guy is the guy who can make open shots, and the guy who really doesn’t exist at all anymore is the guy who can hit any type of shot that is contested. So, why not turn yourself into the guy who is doing things that the others aren’t doing. Why not be the guy who is doing less cool things, like practicing, for long hours, on the things that are going to help you become great. Then you will be that guy that can rise up on you after he goes by you, but you better not give him a step because he doesn’t miss! As of now, if I am coaching against you, I am PACKING THE LANE.
You’ll Get That Scholarship Anyway
I was shocked by how many coaches were recruiting players that in my estimation had no skill. The word potential is a great word that is used in the game of basketball every day, including NBA draft day. It’s a real thing. The player with potential can do things that the hardest worker in the world can’t do and will never do because they were given attributes (ie. First step, long arms, height) that many other players weren’t. So, yes, you will, if you were given these God given abilities, most likely get a scholarship to a great school to play basketball. What do you want to be though, good or great? That’s a legitimate question that all young players need to honestly ask themselves. A lot of kids are good. A lot of young players are good, and think they want to be great, but yet they can’t shoot. Tell me this, how good of a shooter are you really? It goes in just enough to make you feel like you are a good shooter, but are you REALLY a good shooter?
Only one type of player can answer this question and honestly say yes; The type of player who has spent hours in the gym working on their game. Then, although you were going to get that scholarship anyway, because you prepared yourself, you set yourself up to be truly great. You set yourself up to be the full package guy, who we rarely ever see. Those of you who think your great because you have colleges all over you, think about if they are after you because you are great or if you are a potential guy. If you are being honest, most of you are guys that they think they can do something with, not guys who are REALLY as skilled and a special as most of you think you are. Get in the gym.
People love you, and you love the people
Hype is a great thing. We work for a company that hypes players all the time that have deserved it. However, basketball is a skill game that takes constant working on your craft. Generally there are three types of player, the underdog, the too cool for school, or the perfect mix. The underdog realistically is always going to work as hard as he can because he feels he is better than what people give him credit for, but often this player has, as we’ve talked about, a much lower ceiling as to where he can max. Maybe he is short, or slow, or skinny, and these are all things out of his control that drive them to be the best worker ever. Sometimes these players are able to get to the top, in a me against the world type way. We see it with Nate Robinson or Russell Wilson who both were considered too short, but often these players STILL aren’t good enough, by NO way shape or form their own fault. Next, there’s the guys that I like to call the “too cool for school guys”. These guys have it all and EVERYONE tells them how great they are every day. Some of them are guys who worked on their game when they were young, and truly made themselves way better than the peers they were playing against. However, these “too cool for school guys” are often the guys that could have been special because lets face it they were 6’8 in 8th grade and dunking on everyone. These guys are almost always directly at risk to become, overrated very quickly. Why? Because they start listening to everyone tell them how great they are, and they stop WORKING ON THEIR GAME. The dribbling, shooting, passing, film study, that it takes to get to the top. The skill work, that there is no secret formula to get.
Finally the special players are the ones with all the potential, and all the hype, that are able to shut out not only the critics, but the groupies as well. At the end of the day, the best players, Kobe, Lebron, KD, are great because they are working on their skill. These days there are plenty of 6’6-6’8 guys who can run, jump, and be athletic. What is going to separate you?? Are you a potential guy, or are you great? Only you can decide by working on your game and getting gym.