Forward by Janx
I have asked Tony Casella to write a blog on an amazing experience he had this month with the NBA Summer League. This is a great time to network, learn from the best and watch some great NBA prospects up close. I was certainly keen to hear and learn from Tony's experience as I hope everyone else is.
But first some background on the man.....
Tony Casella was an Assistant Coach on our local National Pro team, the Adelaide 36ers (2011-2013), Head Coach for the SA Metro U20 Men (2009-2012), winning 2 silver medals and 1 bronze and at club level coached a team to the U18 Men’s Grand Final at the Melbourne Classics (2008) which is a rare feat for a South Australian team. With this level of experience and success he would probably be one of the brightest young coaches in Australia in my opinion.
Over the past 2 years Tony has been a Player Development Coach working with elite talent wanting to play professional basketball. As someone that has coached so many young men in juniors going on to higher levels he has a phenomenal understanding of the fundamentals, teaching and evaluation skills. His work ethic and passion for the game is first class.
He has recently come back from the NBA Summer League where he took part in many meetings and conversations with coaches, office staff, agents and many other people involved in THE LEAGUE. In my conversations with him, he has comeback with even more knowledge than ever before and is focused on taking individual player development to the next level in Australia. I’m excited to see his career in this area continue to flourish and hope to be able to offer him insights of kids around the region too.
Over to TC (questions by Janx)......
Tell us why you went to Summer League?
The talent of NBA players and coaching strategy has always excited me. My goal is to be involved in the league as a Coach so attending Summer League allowed me to network and learn from the best minds in the game.
Liam Flynn is a good friend of mine who is a great coach, with international experience, ran his first NBA Summer League Networking and Education Tour in July. The tour group contested of myself (Coach), Tristan Chai (Physio – Good Physio), Olaf Borutz (Agent – The W Group) and Michael Kosch (Front Office – Mt Gambier Pioneers). The purpose of this trip was to establish relationships with people who work in the NBA, learn about their journey and current role.
The venue for the NBA Summer League was the Thomas & Mack Center located on the UNLV campus in Las Vegas where 23 NBA teams and a D-League select team participated. The games were played on the Main Court and Cox Pavilion which is a smaller court located in the arena. This is the perfect location for one of the biggest basketball networking events in the world.
Entrance to Thomas & Mack Center
How did you prepare for the tour?
In preparation for the tour I taped some of my workouts and created a YouTube page called Tony Casella Basketball Workouts to show my work to NBA people that we met. I also created a 1 page resume which outlined my experience and created business cards with my contact details.
Who did you meet with?
Liam did an exceptional job setting up meetings with the following NBA people: Billy Lange (76ers Assistant Coach and Director of Player Development), Kevin Young (Delaware 87ers – D-League Head Coach), Gianluca Pascucci (Houston – Vice President of Player Personnel), Phil Handy (Cleveland - Assistant Coach & Summer League Head Coach), Dave Lewin (Boston - Director of Scouting), George David (Agent - Wasserman Media Group), Sachin Gupta (76ers – VP of Basketball Ops & Creator of the ESPN Trade Machine), Matt Brase (GRV Vipers – D-League Head Coach), Justin Hayes (Agent - Worldwide Sports Management), Chris Fleming (Brooklyn – Assistant Coach & German National Team Head Coach), Steve Short (Denver – Physio), Dan Meehan (Brooklyn – Head of Strength & Conditioning) and Troy Flanagan (Milwaukee - Director of Performance).
In addition to the formal meetings I also met Tom Crean (Indiana Hoosie