Blog Post Number 6- June 4, 2020
Three Sound Ideas to Shine in an Evaluation/Exposure Setting
Having spent more than thirty years focused on evaluating, assessing and making judgements as a college coach, mentor to athletes pursuing pro careers, and interested member of the basketball community certain qualities jump out to me and for that matter to most scouts, agents, talent evaluators and coaches.
These events offer a chance to be seen, to network and to learn more about ways to earn your way to the next level, the next opportunity. It begins primarily with the manner in which you conduct yourself.
Here are three ways you can put your best foot forward:
PLAY TO YOUR SCORING STRENGTHS
Too many times I have sadly witnessed players who showed what they can’t do well rather than what they can do. This is especially the case when it comes to shot selection as so many players attempt to show they can score from all-over. Selfish play, forcing off-balance challenged shots and shots out of your normal range generally lead to a lot of missed shots. This raises immediate red flags for coaches.
Honestly assess the spots on the floor where you can consistently make shots. Be smart enough to pass up lower percentage shots for better shots for teammates or open shots from your best spots on the floor.
BE ENGAGED IN THE COMPETITION
Coaches are looking for players that can help their teams win. This usually means players who are highly competitive, coachable and tough-minded. Pay attention during presentations, listen to your camp coaches, have positive “ready to go” body language, be vocal within reason with your teammates and most importantly compete as hard as you can at both ends of the floor on every possession. Yes, camp is about your experience, but being on a team that is winning in camp almost always makes every player look better.
Coaches pay attention to what prospects are doing on and off the floor. Knowing you are being evaluated creates some anxiety. That anxiety simply highlights the great opportunity that participating in an exposure setting offers. When you register for a Coast2Coast event you are making a statement that you have what it takes! Do all you can to confidently focus your mind and energy to channel that anxiety into strong play.
Stay focused on and in the moment. If you turn the ball over, be the first person to get into a good defensive position. If you make a big shot or play act like you aren’t surprised and turn your attention right away to the next play. Keep competing when you aren’t on the floor – share your positive energy with others – enjoy the competitive environment, while making every moment count.
Blog Post Number 5- March 25, 2020
The Process of Picking an Agent
Now that college seasons have come to a close, many graduating seniors are now beginning to think about and make decisions on their future, and for some this includes a future of playing professional basketball. Part of the process includes securing an agent, who can help navigate and ultimately find a contract to play for you. The better the statistics, accolades, and the higher the program you play at the more agent options you may have. Some players will need to know what questions to ask and how to choose an agent out of multiple ones that inquire, while other players wont have as many approach them and will need to do more reaching out on their own. I will cover both situations in this blog.
Doing research is key. How do you know who to trust, what questions to ask, and make the right choice? Like a lot of things in basketball, its not an exact science but there are a few things you can do to weed out the ones that you want to stay away from. First off all are they or someone in their company or that they partner with certified? If you are an NBA prospect, be sure they are a certified NBA agent and for overseas are they FIBA certified. Secondly, ask for a client list and contact information of their clients. Be sure to contact several of them and see what they say. Third, be sure to read the agent agreement and make sure you understand it and the contract length, etc. Another good thing you can do is find out what % of players they were able to place and where those players played. Have they ever seen you play and do they know your game is another question to ask. Other things like looking at their website and social media is important as well. The key is finding an agent who you can trust. Are they going to tell you just what you want to hear or will they be honest with you? How well do they communicate? Will you be a little fish in a big pond or someone the agent will value and spend time working with?
Players who dont have the luxury of having agents recruiting them still have multiple avenues where they can find an agent. Be sure to have an organized basketball resume that you can send out via email. This should include your height, weight, school, bio, stats, a 2-3 minute highlight video, and a few links to some of your best games. You can utilize social media and LinkedIn to send this to agents. You can find an agent directory on FIBA.com and email different agencies. Dont get discouraged if you dont hear back from some. All you need is one good agent to believe in you. One thing I will say here is just dont sign with any agent just to say you have an agent. Sometimes its better to market yourself to overseas teams and then sign with an agent later who is more reputable rather than sign and get caught in a bad contract with someone who wont help.
Another good way to secure an agent is through camps. At our Coast2Coast camps last year we had multiple agents at every camp and over 10 agents who scouted our Las Vegas camp alone. Numerous players were signed from being seen at our camps and they were able to play professionally this year because of that.
At the end of the day always remember that you are always being watched. Agents want to represent players who are pros on and off the court. Watch what you put on your social media and how you carry yourself. There are literally thousands of agents worldwide and many look to sign new players and rookies each year. Dont be afraid to do the research and put in the work and it will make the process much easier.
Blog Post Number 4- March 11, 2020
Ideas for Off-Season Player Development
By George Nessman
Coast2Coast Basketball is all about assisting athletes in pursuing professional basketball opportunities. If you want to have any measure of success as a pro you need to create a plan for continuous development.
Today’s blog presents some ideas that players, coaches and skill trainers might find useful.
My experience as a head coach for twenty-five years showed me with great clarity that a growth mindset with a focused off-season plan for improvement separates the players from the pretenders. There aren’t many contracts being earned by pretenders.
Strength and Conditioning
It is fundamentally important that a pro athlete develop sound training, nutritional and rest habits to maximize the quality of seasons and the quantity of seasons you can play.
First step – consult and/or work directly with a certified strength coach (for example, your strength coach should be certified by the SCCC, CSCS or another recognized organization.)
A better athlete generally becomes a better player. Here are some areas where measurable gains can be made through a proper off-season training regime: Agility, Stamina and Recovery, Balance, Power and Explosiveness.
Tempo: Technique Development and Quality Repetitions
The tempo at which you train should be appropriate for the outcome you are seeking. Simply put, if you are correcting form and/or developing a new technique slow down and make sure each rep is as close to ideal as possible. Exaggerate the fundamental. If you are enhancing an already developed skill or transitioning a skill that you have mastered correct technique, but want to add to your repertoire speed up as close to game tempo and intensity as possible.
These differences in tempo create a platform for quality repetition. You need to train your brain and purposeful, successful repetition enables a movement to become near automatic. Successful repetition is also the basis for confidence – many players get this backwards; but it’s your job to inspire your coach’s confidence in you!
If you have a trainer – great, if you don’t – great. What you need when you train is a reliable set of eyes on you to assess your tempo (effort), technique and quality of rep. Someone that can tell you what you need to hear more than what you might want to hear.
“You should shoot 1,000 shots a day” is poor advice. A more effective way to develop quality reps, which leads to improvement would be to say for example, “From three different spots on the floor make 50 shots each off the catch at game tempo.” Or “Make 40 shots off a down screen with a one-bounce pull-up at game tempo.” Or “Make a minimum of 12 out of 20 shots before moving to the next spot at game tempo.” You get the point.
Don’t forget almost all of us regress to our basic level of training under duress. So the higher the bar you set during training the better your chances of succeeding when it matters most.
Scheme Specific vs. Generic Training
If you know the basic scheme (system) in which you will be playing next season it is a training advantage.
Good drill work usually involves progression where one concept leads to another and/or you take things from singular to multiple reads.
Sample questions for you to develop simple to execute (simple doesn’t mean easy) drills with a sharp focus on being a productive player in a role that fits you in the system.
Where do shots come from?
Where do most of your shots come from?
Where and under what circumstances do you handle the ball?
If you are training generically because you don’t know the coach or system for next season create a short list of skills for development (4-5) that you can focus on for a set period. After that you can assess if you need to add or revise components to get the development you seek.
Here is a sample for ball handling development:
Retreat dribble with crossover vs pressure and/or 2x.
Attack outside shoulder to get past defender
Discontinue dribble to make pass-back or pass-ahead
Reads off of High-Ball Screen.
Attack downhill into lane for score at rim off 2 feet, runner, kick to shooter, dump to post
As a player you will compete as you practice and train, so do so with purpose, intensity and confidence.
Blog Post Number 3- March 3, 2020
European Leagues Ranked
Here at Coast2Coast, our biggest tagline or mission if you will is, Professional Basketball Opportunities. We want to do everything we can to help players get the opportunity to play professionally, whether that be here in the USA, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Australia, or elsewhere. Obviously, the camps we run provide a great opportunity to get noticed and seen by not only teams but agents and scouts. Blogs like this one can be used to give you (the aspiring pro) little tidbits and ideas on how to make this happen, beyond attending the camps.
One of the biggest mistakes we see players make is contacting teams and coaches of high end leagues (usually Europe) and then getting frustrated when they don't hear back. Part of the problem is most players don't understand the hierarchy or know which leagues are starter leagues, mid level leagues, and high level leagues.
Here are just a few examples of each tier (we have included just European leagues here and have left out countries in Asia, Latin America, etc)
Entry Level Leagues
Ireland, U.K. 2nd Division, Malta, Spain EBA, Germany Regionalliga, Finland 2nd Division
Mid Level Leagues
Slovakia, Finland, Bulgaria, Sweden, Romania, Germany Pro-A, Cyprus
High Level Leagues
France Pro A, Israel, Germany BBL, Spain ACB, Turkey, Italy, Greece
As a player you must be honest with yourself and understand how many players there are trying to get just one professional contract internationally. The number of players wanting jobs and jobs available don't match up evenly. When a HS player who isn't being recruited by D1 schools sends his film to Duke, UNC, and UCLA, he shouldn't be surprised when he doesn't get a response. Same thing on the pro side. If you're not a player with high stats or didn't get major minutes at a D1 school, don't waste your time as a rookie emailing and targeting teams in Italy, Greece, and France. Instead familiarize yourself with Eurobasket and try to contact teams in Entry level leagues like Ireland and lower divisions in Germany and Spain. These are leagues where you can get your foot in the door, add film and stats to your resume, and enjoy the experience of living and playing basketball in a foreign country. You won't make much money but early on money shouldn't be the top priority (if it is you may be sitting at home for a while).
Be sure to have a good highlight of yourself and a well organized profile/bio of your career when messaging and emailing teams.
At our Coast2Coast camps our top priority is max exposure, and we bring in a wide assortment of coaches from all 3 levels of pro basketball- from NBA G-League all the way to semi-pro here in the States. That way players who are vets to small college rookies can show their game to the level that properly fits them.
Blog Post Number 2- February 24, 2020
A Look at Pro Basketball Opportunities
So, you want to be a pro? Then you should educate yourself on the types of job opportunities that exist for players. You must also commit yourself to consistent skill development, growth as a player and ability to adjust to and thrive in changing situations.
A Few Basic Numbers
There are 150+ professional basketball leagues around the world. These leagues come in a wide variety of types, available resources and competitive quality.
All these organizations need players which directly translates into tens of thousands of ballers who can call themselves a pro at some level. There are many thousands of Americans each year playing outside the USA, and a big number playing in the US in one of the many leagues that operate here.
So there are opportunities…
Pro Basketball Levels
For the sake of better understanding the types of opportunities that await the right players let’s look at some common facets of basketball organizations.
A significant percentage of pro basketball teams are rooted in their local community and are a part of a more general sports organization such as an athletic club. Some of these clubs expect the pro players to have another job in the organization in addition to playing.
Most leagues have restrictions on the number of import players that can be on the roster. Some leagues even limit the number of import players that can be on the court at any time.
The manner in which basketball is played can be influenced by culture, traditions, team style/needs and coaching preferences. Importantly, this means that most players only fit well in certain places. Good agents can help decode this setting up his/her client to succeed, but it helps if the players themselves understand this too.
Contracts in the top leagues in the world can offer life-changing money, opportunities, top quality facilities and high-level competition against some of the best players in the world. Here are some leagues widely considered to be amongst the best; NBA (US-Canada), Euro League (Europe), Liga ACB (Spain), BSL (Turkey), VTB United (Russia), BBL (Germany) – and there are many others. The NBA-G League based on talent fits in here somewhere, but the salaries are typically below the level of these others.
There are upper tier clubs that play in lesser more mid-tier domestic leagues, but also participate in higher-level collective leagues like the Champions League, Adriatic League or FIBA EuroCup.
Many countries have more than one league and levels of competition. For example, Italy and Germany have four or more levels of leagues. Resources, opportunities and pay vary dramatically from top to bottom.
A player can make a reasonable living and find a really satisfying competitive basketball experience at many Mid-Tier or “lower” Upper-Tier leagues such as the B League in Japan, ASEAN League or the top division in Finland.
A big majority of professional and semi-pro basketball clubs operate in a manner far less glamorous and well-resourced than noted above. But a motivated, open-minded player can gain successful pro experience to enhance their resume, a basic income, intriguing lifestyle and quite possibly most importantly a cultural experience that can greatly broaden horizons and a player’s world-view.
Many semi-pro leagues offer a chance for a player to grow, develop skills and understanding of the game which might make them attractive to a higher level pro club.
Do you have what it takes to earn a place in this global basketball landscape?
Blog Post Number 1- February 14, 2020
Jumpstarting Your Pro Basketball Career and the Value of Networking
Let’s face it, there are a few hundred+ new players each year entering pro basketball that have the measurables, skill-set, resume and/or projectable upside that they will be approached by basketball power brokers (teams and agents) about professional opportunities. Who are these players? Well, 60 players are drafted into the NBA each year. (They’re certainly being approached!) A good many more earn contracts through agents promoting them directly to clubs.
What do you do if you if you find yourself outside this select circle, but are highly motivated to earn a professional basketball contract? How do you set yourself apart?
Here are four key ideas:
#1: BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
If you don’t believe in yourself, why should others believe in you? Be confident and yet, have some humility too – others will notice.
Be prepared to work at it – things may not break overnight, keep taking steps forward. Have a plan to get in great playing condition and keep building and strengthening your skill-set. Execute on your plan.
#2: KNOW THE LANDSCAPE
Learn about the various leagues and opportunities out there. Reach out to and learn from guys who are playing or have played professionally. Get past the hype and understand these roster spots are in fact jobs.
Get your mind around the idea that in the basketball marketplace the supply of quality basketball players greatly outnumbers the demand of available contracts. Translation: Plenty of good players get left out in this game of basketball musical chairs!
In short: it’s not easy, but very few good things are easy.
#3: GET IN THE MIX: BE SEEN
This is an obvious promotion for Coast2Coast Camps, but a good opportunity often is just a product of being seen by the right person at the right time. A well-run pro camp can set the stage for the right eyes to see the right players.
Create a high quality video including information such as where and if you played in college, stats, recent highlights and some game footage. Quality camps always provide access to camp game footage, which works well for this purpose.
If you have played professionally, but are looking for a new and/or better opportunity act like someone who actually understands something about being a pro!
Enlist the assistance of an individual (like an agent) who can get your video to the right people with pro clubs.
#4: ONCE IN THE MIX: BE KNOWN
Ok you are at a camp, you are competing hard, doing what you do and putting your best foot forward. Is that enough? Sometimes yes – but many times, no it isn’t. It’s just a starting point for forming a reputation as a player in the pro basketball environment.
The way you handle yourself in this setting is all-important, including when you are not playing.
Network! Ask questions about getting opportunities, ideas for improvement, speak intelligently about basketball with the coaches and camp directors. Ask for a business card and permission to follow up. Introduce yourself to agents and scouts who may be present. Get to know a few other players – ask them for ideas. Look people in the eye and look and act like someone some coach somewhere in the world would trust on his team with his job at stake.