The Nike LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas was tremendous in and of itself, but to have the Olympic trials going on at the same time made the atmosphere electric. For these 3 days Las Vegas was truly Basketball USA! I pinched myself once in awhile just to realize that I was in the middle of the whole thing.
The best college players in the country, along with the best high school players and the best coaches in the country, made the Nike experience the very best.
Who is the best up-and-coming player? Everyone has their favorite, but two names seem to consistently rise to the top:
Julius Randles, 6 feet 7 inches, 230 pounds, from Prestonwood Christian High School in Texas, has the size and strength to play at the top level and the skill set to play at the guard position.
Of course, the fact that he shattered the bankboard with a hanging dunk during one of the games helped draw even more attention to him and held up the game to boot!
The other player is a Canadian, Andrew Wiggins, a 6 foot 7 inch 220-pound chiseled wing from Huntington Prep in West Virginia, who plays really hard with a complete inside-outside game.
Although the players received the most visibility, even the officials were under scrutiny. This group, all hailing from the Colonial Athletic Association (Drexel, George Mason, Old Dominion, etc.), was led by John Clougherty, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officials, and they all hope for an opportunity to officiate at ACC games.
Essential Leadership Skills of a Good Coach
It’s not all games during the skills academies. There was a roundtable discussion which centered around the relationship between leadership skills, winning and good coaching.
Kevin Eastman, assistant coach of the Boston Celtics, responded in his usual thoughtful and expressive manner.
“There are three important ways to think about this:
1. If you have to get behind your team and push them at every moment, if you have to push them to practice hard and push them to go to class, you cannot win the big one.
2. If you have to get in front of your team and pull them or drag them to practice or to go to class, you will never win the big one.
3. You must go back and stand with your players, embrace them, put your arms around each other and then walk together as a team. If you can do that, you have a great chance of winning the big game.
Lead the players so they want to follow and feel that we are leading each other.”
These principles apply equally to your work, to your family and to your friends. Life is a marvelous journey if you walk arm in arm with those you lead and with those you follow.
Listen to the right voices and then make the right choices.
The Insight: The head coach had had a heart attack and the young coach was thrust into the head coaching job before he was ready. Of course, the young coach thought he was ready! His lack of understanding became apparent early in his handling of the players and the manner in which he talked to parents. He blamed the officials and complained about poor fan support. He was the only person who was surprised when he was not rehired the next year.
The Pep Talk: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
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