How I developed an elite, world class skillset
Updated: Apr 13
Let’s get 3 things out the way before I say anymore.
This kid IS 5’9’’
He will be the best shooter in history of any program, at any level, lucky enough to get him
If you lined up the best 17 year old shooters in the world and had a range of drills to test their shooting skill Joel would win.
Joel has developed an elite, world class skillset with intense practice, excellent guidance and support (👉By Jon Dyer | How I taught my son to shoot: a parent's and coaches' guide) and sheer love for the game. He is a sponge that is also constantly trying to refine and add more to his game and he is a WINNER. His team at Sturt have been the greatest club team in history of the sport out of South Australia winning U14 National Championships, U16 Melbourne Classics and U18 Melbourne Classics (Joel knocking 7x3s in that game winning MVP). Maybe the best youth club team in the nation’s history? The bulk of his team, including Joel, also played in the 2019 South Australian U18 Metro team that won Silver at the Championships, a rare feat for South Australian teams in this age group and adding further weight to the arguments for the strength of his team.
PICTURED: Joel winning MVP at the Melbourne Classics, the top invitational club tournament in the country. Joel's team, the U18 Div 1 Sturt Sabres, winning the title.
VIDEO: Clips of Joel from the Melbourne Classics Grand FInal. You need to check these out to see how good a shooter this kid is.
College coaches can see them play this July with 8 members of this Sturt team also playing in the first Sturt Sabre’s Exposure Tour (👉 The 2019 Sturt Sabre's historic United States exposure tour; About the athletes, their successful track record and style of play)
Joel makes his teams better. You better not be helping off him or he will get a kick out 3 and knock it over your hands with his super quick release. In his team, with guys that are elite decision makers, you better not be playing Joel tight in the deep corner or they will get to the rim and score on you. Down the defensive end Joel has worked hard to become a dawg. He will be in your grill, he will be physical and he is quick. You won’t get past him and you better be on the back foot protecting the ball at all times or you will get it stripped.
With one of his mentors being Stanford Junior Isaac White, a guy that also has built successful programs nationally at school, club and state level, he has refined his workouts constantly and learned the intensity and effort required to develop a world class skillset.
PICTURED: Joel regularly works out with former Sturt Junior, current Aussie rep in Australian Uni Team, about to enter his Junior year at Stanford, Isaac White whenever Isaac is home.
Since U16s he has worked on taking his excellent shooting and developing it to a stage where it can transfer to the highest levels. A quick release, able to shoot off the bounce, in transition. Out of pick and rolls your big better not hard show or he will be dishing out dimes, but if they don’t hard show he needs almost no room to get a shot off and knock it down.
We wanted to ask Joel some questions on how he goes about his development, how he deals with pressure games and what his future plans are….
How long have you been playing for and tell us how and why you got started?
I have been playing basketball since the age 7 and have not stopped since. My introduction into basketball came from my Dad who, himself was an accomplished player. I might not have had a choice at age seven but I knew this was the sport for me. The first official team I was a part of was the Sturt Sabres u/10 division one team. This team gave me my first introduction into the game of basketball and have since been playing for 10 years at the Sturt Sabres Basketball club.
How have you developed such a love for the game?
My love for the game has come from the shear enjoyment I get while playing. Having my family also enjoy and play the sport has made it fun to compete, learn and practice together with them. The teammates and friendships that I have found throughout the years with different teams, has made the journey more enjoyable and, allowed myself to get a love for the game by having fun with them. Being in winning teams has also added to the love of the game, which I am grateful for but this does make me want to stay on top of my game and continue to improve because at the end of the day winning is fun.
Why do you think your teams have been so successful?
I believe the teams I’ve played have become successful through the culture and standard that is set by the coaches from a young age. I also think that the players that I have been fortunate to play with have possessed the same goals and mindset and myself, which I believe is rare in many cases. Our teams did not change much over the years with only a few players coming in and out, this definitely helped my teams build a winning culture because we all had have played with each other for a very long time. The implement of everyone knowing their individual role for the team really helped because everyone knew what each other were going to bring to the team each game. Striving for winning for every time we step out on the floor against anyone carried us mentally because we knew the amount of work that needed to be done for us to win as much as we have.
PICTURED: National Championships Silver Medalist. Joel and 5 of his Sturt team mates recently won silver at the U18 National Championships, representing South Australia.
What is it like to be in the number 1 junior club team in the history of the sport out of South Australia?
This relates to the statements I made above because many things are resultant of being in winning teams. However, It is a very surreal feeling because to me it feels like I am winning games while having fun with my teammates that have become my friends. I think that is one of secrets of great teams, because I know that I want to play hard for my teammates and I am sure they would think the same way about playing hard for me and the rest of the team. Being able to say that I am three time National champion sounds good to me and it just solidifies the fact that hard work and preparation really does pay off.
How much work do you put in?
For working specifically on my basketball skills, I try and practice with someone or by myself once a day. This tends to be in the mornings before school at 6:30 AM as it does not interfere with team trainings and allows me to work on any skills that I think I need to improve on to make my overall game as refined as possible. In the past year I have begun integrating strength work into my weekly routine. This has consisted of going to my high school gym three times a week. This gym has some state of the art fast twitch equipment that allows me to work on my parts of my body in a totally new while still creating good habits with traditional weights. Putting the work in makes the games and scrimmages because it gives me chance to show coaches, people watching and myself that the hard work I put in each week does pay off.
PICTURED: Joel has recently employed a strength and conditioning trainer to continue to add to the physical side of his game.
You are 5’9’’ which to some might be a disadvantage but you have overcome that to lead scoring for teams playing at high levels. You process feedback and apply it very quickly. How do you process feedback on your game and apply it so quickly into your game?
My size has been in question for many years but something that I never worry about because when I’m playing nothing can beat skill and instincts. It may seem cliché but I believe heart over height can triumph in the sport of basketball. Taking in feedback has nothing to do with height and is one of the easiest parts of basketball because the people giving the feedback are generally previous players or high-level coaches and I know that what they are saying is critical but helpful, otherwise they would not be saying it. Transferring feedback into game play can be tough because old habits can be hard to change every the simplest of ones but I really take in the feedback and think about what parts of my game it can help and improve.
PICTURED: Joel has represented the state of South Australia both at U16 level in 2017 and U18 level in 2019, winning a sliver a medal that year.
What are your favourite shooting drills?
I have a variety of shooting drills that could get me busy for days on end. But my personal favourites are the timed drills because they are easy to measure and there is no if, ands or buts if about a score you get because it is written down and recorded. The OKC drill is one my favourites as it compiles a variety of three point shots from the 5 spots and finishes with 5 threes in a row before the score is even started this drill is very difficult and took me a while to get consistently good at. Streak shooting drills are also my favourites because they create consistency within my shot and getting on a hot shooting streak makes me feel like the greatest shooter in the world. My all-time favourite drill is 3 minutes of 3’s because this drill is one that I began doing from a young age. I have been able to see my individual improvement throughout the years and have had shooting battle with one particular friend of mine, Stanford Point Guard, Isaac White. The winner of this drill has changed multiple times in recent years just like all of the other drills and keeps a healthy rivalry between me and a fellow shooter (even though I have all the records now). All of the shooting drills I do are for the improvement of my game and there is too many to list them all but I know they all are helpful and have made me the shooter I am today.
VIDEO: Joel doing one of his favourite drills. The OKC drill. This is a great drill for any athlete to benchmark their shooting. A high pressure drill that tests mental toughness, shooting speed and accuracy. Try and beat Joel, I dare ya!!!
VIDEO: 3 mins of 3s another favourite of Joels. Disturbs shooting rhythm with rapid passing, develops shooting as a motor skill through sheer number of reps, works on fitness. Here Joel gets an amazing 64, we challenge anyone in the world to beat him!
How do you go having confidence and feeling comfortable taking big 3s? What is your mindset?
Mental toughness is something that I have improved a lot in the past couple of months, in terms of staying positive and thinking that the next shot is always going to drop. The confidence comes from all of the work put in prior to each game. Without practicing and skill refinement, I am not sure where my confidence would come from. I have always been comfortable taking big shots especially threes because I have taken and made them from a young age. Knowing my teammates trust me to take those shots is something that sticks in my head and is a major reason why I don’t question any shot that I take. My mindset is something that I did not think was a big part of my play until recent years as it has played a big part in me making big shots and remaining came in big games.
VIDEO: Highlights from U18 National Championships in April 2019. Joel has emerged as an elite shooter AND now also a high level defender, able to get to the rim with an explosive skillset.
What have you worked on to improve?
My biggest question in my game has been my defensive ability, with the question looming over me of whether or not I can guard bigger, faster and quicker players than myself. I have really worked on how to make reads on defence and how to play against bigger players. I believe that I have worked on it so much that is one of my strengths now and there aren’t very many players who can get by me. Other things that I have worked on are my ball handling and passing. These skills have allowed me to become more of true point rather than a spot up shooter. Ball handling is something that I know is import at the next level and the ability to look after the basketball that is why my passing also needed improving.
What do you hope to improve in your game over the coming 12 months?
I hope to improve on all aspects of the game because no player is perfect but as refined as my skills can get the better I will be. Rebounding is a part of my game that is not up to a standard I want it and is something that can easily be improved because it requires hard work and reading the game, which are two things I believe I am very good at. Becoming a better shot maker over taller defenders inside and out is something I hope I can improve on because that will be a key skill at the level of basketball I want to reach.
What does the next 12 months hold for you?
The next 12 months is packed full of basketball and school work. I am travelling to the USA to play basketball and hopefully gain some recognition from college coaches. As my junior career is coming to an end I will play senior basketball and try and get playing minutes on our men’s premier league team, this would definitely help with my development of playing against bigger more physical players. The u/20 state team is one that am hoping to make and those trials are later in the year and will determine if I get to represent my state one last time. By this time next year I am hoping to prepare myself to take part in the 2020-21 college basketball season and experience the next step in my basketball journey.
What does the coming 3 years hold for you?
The coming years will hold my future in the sport of basketball, which is hopefully making the u/20 South Australia team, joining my men’s premier league team and finally playing college basketball in the United States. I do not know what I will be doing if I am not studying at university or college in the United States. The future for me is I believe is bright, exciting and something I looking forward too.
PICTURED: Joel works hard in all aspects of life. In the class room, on he court, off the court. Well suited to the college system as an elite student athlete.