Selecting featured athletes for highperformancehoopsnetwork.com

SELECTION CRITERIA PLUS DOING THE RIGHT THING = FEATURED ATHLETE

For junior players and their parents with aspirations of being an elite, Division 1 college player this article highlights in detail how we would list you (or your child if you are a parent reading this) as a featured athlete as well as provide you with all of the associated exposure, networks, input, support and guidance.

As mentioned in the blog "A global focus on South Australian Basketball" Div 1 college basketball at all levels are showing an interest in talent in South Australia. Eventhough it is a LOT of work, it is great to have had the opportunity to be involved and I hope that all in SA's basketball community see this a great opportunity for all both on a micro and macro level.

I've been contacted by a range of parents and players asking; "how can my child be selected for highperformancehoopsnetwork.com?". Some of these are parents of kids that are low level U12 players for example and really don't realise how good their child needs to be to play division 1 college basketball. One asked; "my son plays the drums and is gifted at that too, would that help him get a Div 1 basketball scholarship?"

With 11 years experience as a coach of SA Metro teams at National Championships, when parents ask me what it takes to be a Div 1 college player, I can provide detailed knowledge and point of references for them on what other Aussie kids over the years achieved in our local, Aussie pathways before getting D1 offers. I am able to inform these parents on our local pathways to help them understand there will be many, many steps locally in order to gain visibility as a potential NCAA D1 level athlete. My number 1 advice is normally to speak to their club's Coaching Director about Aussie High Performance pathways and to encourage their child to focus climbing those pathways in order to even have the option of Div 1 college basketball later on. I hope parents reading this blog take this advice onboard, the club system and your child's success in that system DOES count, it must be valued and respected.

Fundamentally there are 2 selection components to being a featured athlete on www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com.

  1. meeting the selection criteria

  2. doing the right thing.

Both these points addressed in sections below.

This site and platform will constantly evolve and as our featured athletes succeed the credibility of SA Hoops and also this platform is dramatically increasing in D1 college programs. I've been lucky to have been very significantly involved (along with others) in the journeys of all the featured athletes currently on the site. US coaches want to keep building relationships as they predict there may be hotbed of talent forming with the kids I am lucky enough to work with. However, my ability to contribute-to, and involvement with, elite kids may not always continue. I DO want this platform to continue, it should be a legacy. Let this platform take its own journey, which is kind of how it evolved in the first place. No LONG TERM plans, no vision for the site or platform, just plans and visions for the athletes we coach and support, and reacting to their needs to ensure we deliver on those plans and vision. That is how this started - for the athletes - driven by their needs and desires. In short, I am looking out for partners, that are also junior coaches of D1 prospects, that share my values and work ethic, to work with on this platform for the athletes they work with as well.

I need to explain the background of how and why this site came about and how selecting featured athletes is evolving.

Background of highperformancehoopsnetwork.com

Pictured. GOATS U18 Div 1 Sturt Men 2014/15. This team will probably go on to be one of the greatest teams in U18 junior basketball in South Australia. Winning state championships in every age group, dominating the competition in SA in their U18 year, winning Dandenong tournament and having a 50-3 win/loss record for the year. Nine played in South Australian junior teams at some stage. Five Australian representatives. All dominate/d on the court but, more importantly, at life - THAT IS: They do the right thing

This platform was initially setup to support players in my U18 Div 1 Sturt team in 2014/15. It is their legacy and will always be. Their values, efforts, work ethic, attitude and coachability over many years led to their success on the court but more importantly contributed to their off the court success too.

I was, along with the Sturt Coaching Director, providing significant support to help the kids in that team with their college aspirations, also to climb Aussie pathways.

Prior to setting up the site, the Coaching Director at Sturt and I worked on a plan to develop college pathways for kids at the club. However, upon that Coaching Director moving on Sturt rightfully decided that the plan was not inline with their core business, but still support my extra-role with www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com and we have open communication with the Coaching Director on the Sturt kids involved. www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com was effectively the manifestation of the plan, in part, that had been submitted to Sturt. I see this site, and the frameworks and patterns established, significantly complimenting my coaching roles with Sturt and Basketball SA. Key coaching staff in both organisations are supportive of the concept and with good reason - they care greatly about opportunities and pathways for their athletes and have seen the outcomes of this platform firsthand.

Whilst helping out those guys in my Sturt team a few schools had asked for information on Brent Hank (6'10'' Power Forward, Central Districts Lions, SA Metro state player, U of Albany commit for 2017) or a Brent Hank type of player. I had coached Brent a lot, originally recruited him down to Adelaide from his home town, and kept in touch with him and his family. His family were more than fine with me providing information on him I let them know when solid leads developed. When www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com was initially setup it was going to be just for Sturt kids but I realised we should have Brent as a featured athlete too, and this was possible once Sturt relinquised their ownership of this platform. We added Brent as a featured athlete with his families' input.

Owen Hulland (6'11'' Stretch 4, Norwood FLames, SA Metro state player, Centre of Excellence Scholarship holder, Class of 2018 prospect) dominated the U18 National Championships and he asked if I could help him post that event. For me, helping Owen was a no brainer, it is easy to get top schools to look at a skilled, 6'11'', versatile, stretch 4 with a great approach to his basketball, like Owen. We sought permission from his club, confirmed his parents were ok with it, and the rest is becoming history as Owen looks set to go to a great Division 1 school at some stage in the future.

We also discussed Uche Dibiamaka (6'3'' Combo Guard, Norwood FLames, SA Metro state player, Class of 2018 prospect) becoming a featured athlete but his family elected for him to pursue the US High School path instead. I feel happy that I was able to offer Uche an alternative option. By offering athletes options it helps them make "informed" decisions. With options before him Uche still thought the US High School path was best for him, that is fine by me, I just want him to succeed, and he certainly is on his way to doing that over there.

Therefore I am very open to supporting any athletes I work with whether they are from the club I coach at, Sturt Sabres, or not.

I loved it on the recent NITP tour to America when the tour visited TCU and Texas for guided tours. Given the size of these programs this was a significant opportunity. These 2 schools and coaches in them are key networks for us through this platform and the featured athletes, have significant roles in these programs. Our State Director of Coaching has been able meet and/or form tighter bonds with these schools, in order to facilitate the tours, with the help of the improved profile of SA Basketball in recent months, through this platform and the featured athletes.

Why not just leave the kids I coach to find college opportunities themselves?

For me, providing this kind of service for the kids I coach, whilst enhancing the reputation of South Australian Hoops, is a no-brainer. It means I can keep control of the situation for them beyond playing for me. The trust, honesty and credibility we have with each other and their families has been established over many years, so working together on their college aspirations is very easy with the great friendships we have with both them and their families. We are all great friends. I will work incredibly hard for them, whilst being 100% honest and transparent. I will not step outside my expertise when providing them advice and likewise when talking to the colleges. I will never want or need personal financial benefit from schools or the kids I help. My fear was that if we did not keep this kind of support "inhouse" the guys would rely on people less ethical, diligent or seeking personal financial gain. I am more than happy for the guys to work with anyone and everyone in helping them, but I always ask they just keep me in the loop and listen to my advice before deciding, so they can make informed decisions after hearing my input. What they won't need to do is rely on anyone else for college exposure other than what I help them with, albeit often it is in their interest to seek help from many others too, they are just not reliant or dependent on that help. The key here is choice, they can choose options if they want, but don't need to because this platform can provide with them with ALL the exposure they need if they like.

This platform will be the legacy of that first team, the GOATS (pictured above), it will be their legacy. This initially started for them. In other words if you want to be a featured athlete here you had better be good! Now you understand how this site evolved and got started, onto the selection criteria.

Selection criteria

Very early in the process of supporting the kids in my Sturt Team in 2014/15, prior to setting www.highperformancehoops.com, it became obvious that investing 20-30 hours per week, outside of working hours was not feasible on an ongoing basis. I needed to do 2 things.

1 was to establish more effective and efficient means for college coaches to know who I was, what I was about and likewise with the players I was helping. www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com and the associated newsletter updates was the answer and these developments are about more effectively and efficiently providing information on the kids I was helping, that I coach, or have coached in the past. Also to provide more information on me, why I was doing this and what I was about and hopefully in doing so provide better credibility and transparency of the information I am providing college coaches with.

The 2nd being to select more of a niche. In selecting a niche I can't help every kid, can't focus on every single school at every level in America. Instead of contacting junior colleges, NAIA schools pro-actively it was becoming apparent the kids I was helping were serious D1 prospects. Many believe the fact we were helping them with realistic college pathways and they were getting interest actually was a key proponent to inspiring them to work MUCH harder than their peers not getting this level of support, speaking to them that would mostly be true too. I decided to focus all of my attention on D1 schools, whilst continuing to work with the many D2, and other, coaches that were approaching me.

In targeting Div 1 schools only I had to make sure I was also open, honest and transparent with the athletes that contact me. Where possible, I want to try and avoid being the decision maker on kids that can play D1 basketball, in which case can become featured athletes. Therefore, I have tried to introduce some selection criteria. The selection criteria is predominantly based on assessments by people other than myself, in higher level programs. It is on this page (http://www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com/featured-athletes) so it is visible.

Here is the selection criteria from the page above:

In addition to being deemed to have legitimate Div 1 College potential, to appear on this page athletes satisfy at least 2 of the following critieria:

  • Has played for Coach Janx and displayed exemplary work ethic, coachability, attitude, being a good team mate at all times.

  • Nationally ranked top 20 athlete on www.ausahoops.com

  • Selected for Adidas Uprising Tournament and/or NIKE Basketball Without Borders Camp

  • Attended at least 1 Australian Development Camp and/or National Team Selection trial

  • AIS/COE scholarship holder

The first point is the only one that is reliant on my own subjective assessment, it is about "doing the right thing" which I will get back to further down.

As mentioned I want to avoid advising schools or kids on advice I am not qualified to give. I will NEVER say to a kid "you are not a Div 1 player", however I know what kind of ticks athletes need to have in order to be recruited and I will say you do not "fit the criteria to be www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com featured athlete". That is what the selection criteria is about. It is objective and removes any subjective assessments from me. I feel this may change in time and I would be open to making selective decisions on athletes becoming featured athletes down the track but right now that is not the case, it is based on objective, externally assessed selection criteria.

Doing the right thing

This is a little a bit about the legacy of the GOATS featured above but also about making sure athletes I support enhance the reputations of SA Ball, this platform and brand. Doing the right thing could be referred to as a "no d**khead policy".

This criteria paramount in my mind. If I am going to invest in an athlete it is important to me that you have invested in yourself, your peers, our sport in SA, preferably worked with me at some stage, in a significant capacity (albeit this latter point may be reviewed soon).

In order to achieve the selection criteria it is largely about being a winner. Ultimately I feel for an athlete to succeed and climb in our pathways it is much more readily available if they play in winning teams. Selfishly putting individual exposure and game play ahead of team success will ultimately backfire for kids, these are not the kids I will help. I regularly ask them to check how many kids are selected for higher levels in our pathways, such as making national teams, Australian Camps and heading to the COE that have not played in winning state, club or school teams. There are not many. Therefore team success is very important. Likewise, I have seen first hand that team success makes kids much more "marketable" to college coaches. College coaches want to know the kids have played in winning teams and to know the athlete's positive qualities helped create that successful culture.

I also feel that helping with college pathways in the way I do is a powerful motivation tool for kids to do the right thing. I strongly believe the values of sport is more important than anything. Learning positive values LIKE teamwork, respect, goal setting, hardwork, overcoming adversity, coachability etc. etc. IE "doing the right thing" is what I value most. I have found that as a high performance coach at club and state level that this platform and practices to be very powerful tools in developing all the positive character qualities mentioned here. The kids that play for me know and understand how they display these positive character qualities in teams I coach will be on the record and open. Fortunately every kid I have coached over the past 2 years in teams has displayed these positive character qualities. I am able to speak to positively to the 100s of coaches that have reached out to me on their character traits and how they breed successful programs and team mates.

I saw problems with athletes I had worked with in the past years (not the past 2 yrs) with bad advice, bad attitudes because they had the wrong type of people in their ears and really making poor and uninformed decisions. There is no need for an athlete to go down the path of these outcomes anymore because as their coach I am able to take on these roles with them and in doing so focus on positive behaviors and values as part of the college exposure process, something that is sometimes lost with professional "agents", who are in it for money.

Doing the right thing is very important. Right now the kids on this site tend to have had significant involvement with me. When this deviates and athletes have not had involvement with me I will be doing major reference checking into the athletes character, work ethic, teamwork, attitude, love for the game, Basketball IQ, coachability etc. This site is as much about maintaining the legacy of that Sturt team, quite a few of whom are featured athletes on this site. They ALL did "the right thing" and future featured athletes will need to prove they live up to that legacy.

Is playing for Janx a must in order to be a featured athlete?

Right now all the featured athletes spent lots of time playing for me at club and/or state level. It just so happens that the bulk of the elite talent currently out of South Australia have had significant involvement with me. Has this always been the case? No, it has not. Will this always be the case? No, it will not. That is is just case at the moment. Would I consider other athletes that have never worked with me coming on board? The site is predominantly for kids I have worked with. Having said that, yes I would consider it, but they would need to be "Doing the right thing" and I would check this thoroughly before having them join as a "featured athlete". They would also need to be a "no brainer" in terms of division 1 potential and on the "extreme" end of the scale of the objective selection criteria listed above.

Conclusion

The success of our featured athletes is our greatest reward. When they excel on the college stage this builds our brand and in doing so helps create opportunities for future featured athletes. In short, we will do all we can to ensure athletes we feature and support succeed wherever they/their families want us to help.

To be a featured athlete on my site www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com you need to be climbing the upper echelons of our sport's pathways and being a great team mate, coachable, positive role model, positive-leader, very strong work ethic, setting and maintaining goals. It just so happens all the featured athletes on the site right now are at the extreme positive end of doing the right thing, their achievements speak for itself.

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