Q&A with Randy Livingston, leader of Team Asia Pacific at Adidas Summer Championships and Nation
Preface by Janx…..
I’ve asked Randy Livingston to do a Q&A blog for www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com, but before he we get to that I wanted to fill you in on the upcoming tours he is leading, and some of his extensive background, including in the NBA.
This July Randy takes some of the best prospects from Australia and New Zealand to the Adidas Summer Championships tournament in Las Vegas (26-30 July), and then heads to Adidas Nations in Houston (2-6 August), where they will face some of the best high school basketball talent from around the world. Alex Mudronja and Ben Carter (both featured athletes at www.highperformancehoopsnetwork.com) will be attending both the Adidas Summer Championships and Adidas Nations, along with other elite, division 1 college prospects (list further down).
Here is the schedule for the tour:
23 July 2017: Fly Sydney to Los Angeles. Travel to Las Vegas by mini vans. Arrive at Las Vegas Hotel.
24-25 July 2017: Two practices per day at a local high school.
26-30 July 2017: Adidas Summer Championships tournament playing some of the best high school-aged teams in the U.S.A.
30 July 2017: Return to Los Angeles
2-6 August 2017: Adidas Nations in Houston
Happy to let any interested College coaches know of more information or get them in touch with Randy.
VIDEO: Highlights from the 2016 Adidas Nations tour. Quite a few guys on the 2016 tour have committed to High Major, division 1 programs.
Randy Livingston carries a lot of respect throughout Australian basketball. He played 10+ year NBA career, great coaching pedigree having played for the likes of Rudy Tomjanovich, Jerry Sloan and Nate MacMIllan as well as coaching for four years in the NBA’s development league, the latter two years as Head Coach. This would be impressive by default but what I find most admirable is the fact that when he was here in Australia he took time to participate in our pathways. In addition to scouting every national tournament for ages U20, U18 and U16 he also took on a role coaching the Tasmanian U18 State team in 2014, taking them to the Australian Junior Championships in Canberra.
PICTURED: Randy playing with the Phoenix Suns. Randy had 10 years in the NBA.
When he returned to the U.S.A. to become an Assistant Coach at the esteemed Louisiana State University (LSU – the school that he attended and played at a few years after Shaquille O’Neal), it was of course a natural progression that he would recruit kids from throughout the Australia/New Zealand region, some of whom live in South Australia, are featured athletes on this site, and are some of the nation’s best prospects. Through this process he has become a mentor to several South Australian players and a trusted advisor and friend to their families.
Randy has also been a big help to me, a trusted guide, and someone who is very well known in the American college basketball landscape. I won’t go into all the details but it is the little things that he does that are valued, the things that are not self-serving, that take time and effort but have been a very big help along the way.
Randy told me after completing this interview the list of players on the tour locked in for Adidas Nations. This is actually an exciting team indeed, packed with high major talent, when you throw in the New Zealand talent, with some great Aussies based in the USA also included.
Alex Mudronja Ben Carter Kody Stattmann Samson Froling Taane Samuel Flynn Cameron Josh Green Daniel Fotu Matur Maker Makur Maker
Randy tells me he will add another 2 players after the Adidas Summer Championships that show the greatest work ethic, desire and potential.
Q & A with Randy Livingston
AJ: Randy, can you give us a bit of background on what brought you to Tasmania and how did you get involved in coaching the state’s U18 team?
RL: I came to Tasmania originally to support my partner Anita who is a Tasmanian native and had some film projects she was working on. One day soon after arriving in the state, we were traveling to visit Mum in Devonport and stumbled upon the U20 national tournament that happened to be taking place in Launceston (about an hour outside Devonport). I was immediately struck by the great talent in gym. Tell you the truth, I wasn’t expecting it. That day I posted on Facebook that I was at the tournament and instantly had a bunch of my college coaching buddies phoning me from the U.S. asking for my opinion on the talent. Thinking back, that really was an exceptional group of players. There was Dante Exum (now with the Utah Jazz), Dane Pineau (played for St. Mary’s now signed with the Sydney Kings), Keanu Pinder (University of Arizona), Chima Moneke (star ranking at UC Davis), Tai Webster (Nebraska), and many other great players were all participating in this event. The Tassie team was coached by Willie Joseph, who starred at New Mexico St before playing professionally in Australia and eventually settling in Tasmania. Willie and I became great mates over the last 5 years. After watching the tournament, I really wanted to find a way to contribute to the development of basketball in the state and help some of these kids gain greater visibility both in Australia and on the international stage.
PICTURED: Randy coaching the U18 Tasmanian State team back in the day.
AJ: How effective do you think Aussie pathways are? (including club, state, COE and Australian teams).
RL: Australia is quite different to the U.S.A. in the way it organises it’s college pathways through the individual state and territory high performance system as well as a residential program at the Centre of Excellence in Canberra. So in terms of organisation and cohesion across the states and at the national level I think Basketball Australia and the state basketball programs do a pretty good job at identifying talent and nurturing it to a high level. Some of the deficiencies of the system include players who slip through the cracks for a variety of reasons, such as financial constraints or advisors who tell players to opt out of the state system in favour of high-school competition. Possibly the biggest challenge for Australian players getting to the U.S.A. on a basketball scholarship is the amount of mis-information that is spread by (often well-meaning) people who don’t fully understand the ins and outs of college basketball. One of the highly specialised aspects of this process is gaining academic eligibility via the NCAA Eligibility system, which takes into account your year 9 to 12 subjects and results. This can be a stumbling block for players who only decide in year 11 or 12 that they want to play in a U.S. college but they have not studied the right subjects for gaining eligibility in years 9 and 10. Add to that the ever-evolving adjudications on which subjects are considered “equivalent” for eligibility purposes, which is why I work exclusively with one of the top academic advisors for international eligibility – to make sure the players I work with have their academics straight as well as being at the top of their game on the court.
PICTURED: All business. Randy giving Antonio Blakeney some feedback whilst at LSU.
AJ: What prompted you to start taking tours of Australian players to the Adidas events in the U.S.A.?
RL: I have a very long history with Adidas. I like to say I’m an Adidas “lifer”. Back in the day, there was even a Randy Livingston Adidas shoe, which was something pretty special because I have very unique feet! After I retired from playing I became involved in the Adidas Nations international tournaments in various capacities, so when Adidas decided to extend the Australian team (which was the Institute of Sport team at that time) to include New Zealanders, they asked me to take over the program and re-named the team Asia Pacific. So this is my fourth year taking an Asia Pacific team to the Nations tournament, which is a highly competitive invitation-only competition primarily aimed at high school aged students who are on track for a professional career. In addition to Adidas Nations, I also take a group to the Adidas Summer Championships which is one of the premiere AAU level tournaments in the country and is a fantastic tournament for the rising stars to test their mettle against the faster paced U.S. players.
PICTURED: Back in the day, Randy even had his own Adidas shoes named after him.
AJ: What took you back to coaching in the USA?
RL: I wasn’t actively looking to return to the USA because I was really enjoying life in Australia and watching the young Aussie talent rise up on the world stage, but in mid-2016 I got an offer I couldn’t refuse. LSU, where I had played under the legendary Coach Dale Brown, asked me to join their coaching staff. It’s not often you get a chance to bring your story full circle so I had to jump at the chance of working for Head Coach Johnny Jones.
PICTURED: Randy at LSU practice during the 2016/17 season.
AJ: Tell me about your connections to South Australia.
RL: I have quite a range of connections in S.A. starting with David Ingham, the State High Performance Manager who I’ve always had great relations with and is a straight shooter when it comes to S.A. talent. Also, Joey Wright and Kevin Brooks, Head Coach and Assistant Coach respectively at the Adelaide 36ers NBL team, who I know from back in the States. Joey and KB have always been extremely gracious in welcoming me to Adelaide. I have also scouted and coached several rising stars from South Australia, most recently Alex Mudronja and Ben Carter who are both on the cards to play on my Asia Pacific team at the prestigious Adidas Nations tournament this year. I have come to know their parents quite well too over the past couple of years. And of course I know you Andrew! I’ve always enjoyed our conversations and it is good to know I can always come to you for information on S.A. players because I know you keep close tabs on the guys, are always talking to a lot of coaches, so you know who the rising stars are coming up through the ranks.