Contesting Shots Matters!

The distance at which your team contests shots on the perimeter will directly impact your wins and losses.  10 of the top 25 defensive FG% teams in the NCAA made the tournament this year.  One of those teams is Coach Eric Musselman's Nevada Wolf Pack, who first shared the importance of this analytic with me a few years ago.  It's no secret that a low defensive FG% is necessary to consistently win games, but how can you ensure that you do just that?  

In 2016-17, I began tracking the distance at which we closed out to shooters.  (You can read more from that study here: Contesting Shots Matters & Here's Why.)  Throughout that season, I became convinced there was a correlation between winning, losing, and how well we contested shots.  So in the 2017-18 season as I took a new position at Bethel College in Indiana, I tracked this stat every game to see how it would hold up in a tough league.  

The data below is over the span of our 33 games.  There are two parts to this study that I'd like to share with you: 

  1. The distance at which you contest a shot affects defensive FG%
  2. How often you contest a shot from each distance affects winning and losing.

First, the distance at which you contest a shot affects defensive FG%.  There are three distances that I track: closely contested (0-2 feet), moderately contested (2-4 feet), not contested (4+ feet).  This is slightly different from Coach Musselman, as he tracks four distances.  Here are the overall statistics from this past season:

SEASON (Defensive FG%)

0-2 feet - 20.5% (67-327)

2-4 feet - 39.5% (161-408)

4+ feet - 51.8% (86-166)

Plain and simple, when our players closed out to the ball well, we had an incredible defensive FG%.  When our players did not close out well, we gave up a lot of points.  To conclude the first part of this study, I believe that it is obvious that the tighter a shot is contested, the lower the FG% becomes.  This is why closeouts are extremely important and you should work on them often throughout the year.  Have a plan and be really good at executing a simple closeout.

The second part of the study is the one that impacts winning and losing.  It is that how often you contest a shot from each distance will directly affect your win/loss record.  Here are the statistics from our wins and our losses this season:

WINS (Defensive FG%)

0-2 feet - 18.6% (45-241)

2-4 feet - 39.1% (105-268)

4+ feet - 53.7% (57-106)

out of 10 shots.png

LOSSES (Defensive FG%)

0-2 feet - 25.5% (22-86)

2-4 feet - 40.0% (56-140)

4+ feet - 48.3% (29-60)

out of 10 shots (1).png

While the defensive FG% remained fairly consistent in both wins and losses, the biggest difference is how often we contest shots from each distance.  In our wins, every 4 out of 10 shots was contested within 0-2 feet, every 4.3 out of 10 shots was contested within 2-4 feet, and every 1.7 out of 10 shots was contested at 4+ feet (See charts above).  Our closely and moderately contested shots were much more balanced, thus our closeouts were more consistent in our wins.

In our losses, only every 2.9 out of 10 shots was contested within 0-2 feet, every 4.9 out of 10 shots was contested within 2-4 feet, and every 2.2 out of 10 shots was contested within 4+ feet (See charts above).  Our consistency and balance in our losses is much more out of sync than in our wins.  Because of this, we struggled to keep points off the board.  The graphs give a visual of the balance in consistency.

So while our defensive FG% remained consistent in wins and losses, the real difference was in our ability to closely contest shots more often.  The margin is not huge, however, it is a crucial detail in the deciding factor of games.  The difference between a win and a loss could be as little as 4-5 shots per game being contested just a foot tighter.

I hope the data in this study will help you realize the importance of closeouts and how the distance and rate in which we contest shots matters.  If you have any questions or comments, I would love for you to reach out so I can talk with you more.  I would also appreciate any feedback or other information to take into consideration for this.  

Surrender the Outcome

Tonight we lost in the first round of the NAIA National Tournament.  I typically don't write when I'm emotional, but I wanted to capture the feelings of this before they faded away.  


I would be lying to you if I told you it didn't hurt.  The way we lost.  When we lost.  None of it was enjoyable.  Walking into the locker room afterwards was particularly tough.  The faces of the men in that room told a story.  The dazed look in their eyes of complete shock, wondering how we got to this point.  The tears flowing from our four seniors who just saw their college careers end.  The mood was raw.  It wasn't fun, but it was real.  We came into this tournament with a confident belief that we were prepared and we were ready to make a run.  Unfortunately, things didn't go our way.


As the emotions set in, we realized our family was too strong to be broken apart by any loss.  The love teammates showed to each other showed me how much this brotherhood means.  Guys shared hugs, thanked the seniors, and picked each other up with encouragement and a positive outlook.  They knew they would bounce back and be better for it.

Before the game, I tweeted this as I knew I would need it as a reminder no matter if we won or lost:

For me as a coach, I take losing hard.  But I've been challenged by my #OneWord for 2018, "Surrender."  I thought it was awesome that we embraced that call this week leading up to the tournament.  Surrender the outcome.  God is good all the time and he is sovereign over us.  He already knew the outcome of that game and there's peace in knowing that God is in control.  While it still sucks and I hate that we lost, there are lessons to be learned and growth to be made in order for us to return to Sioux Falls in 2019 to make a deeper run.  As for now, I'm thankful for the opportunity God gave us to be here.  It's my personal goal to glorify Jesus through the game of basketball and that gives me contentment to surrender the outcome to his will.  


Strong Face

The way we respond to both our mistakes and our success will often put our toughness on display.  When we mess up, how do we respond?  When we experience a big win, how do we respond?  Our body language speaks volumes, and through the highs and lows we need to have a strong face.  

I arrived early to the University of North Carolina's morning shoot around at Notre Dame.  The UNC team bus hadn't arrived yet, but there were two guys that came early with the managers;  Seventh Woods and Joel Berry.  As I watched them go through their workouts, I became intrigued with the way Joel Berry performed.  Not because he was doing unique drills or making every shot, but because of the body language that he displayed.  He communicated a strong face.

When he made shots, he had a strong face.  When he missed shots, he had a strong face.  Even when he air-balled his fourth miss in a row, he had a strong face.  His body language never waivered and he had a "Teflon" memory, allowing both the good and the bad to bounce off of him.  He transitioned to the "next play" every time.  He never cussed and he never allowed his emotions to overcome him. 

As I watch players workout, there is always a wide spectrum in which they respond to makes and misses.  Some celebrate every make as if it was the first time they ever made a shot.  Some will drop and F-bomb every time they miss as if they are a 100% shooter.  Some will hang their head at the first sign of failure and give up.  Players need to learn how to have a strong face and move on to the next play.  Negative reactions to imperfection is not acceptable and it is an obvious sign up immaturity and lack of toughness.

Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said, "Next play is the absence of fear.  You have moved on."  Negative reactions are excuses and indicate that there is a fear of failure.  Your body language  will communicate to others if you are mentally tough enough to move on or not.  

Next play is the absence of fear.
— Mike Krzyzewski

In his book, Toughness, Jay Bilas writes, "'next play" not only leads to consistency; it leads to composure too, because when you take the next play mentality, you are firmly in the present and prepared to make the most important play: this play."

Whether you are a player or a coach, the idea of having a strong face is vital.  It's important on the court and it's important off the court.  Make it a point to challenge yourself and those around you to respond to their success and failures with a strong face, willing to move on to the next play.  

Surrender: One Word 2018

My One Word for 2017 was "faith."  God couldn't have put a better word in my heart when I chose that last year.  For 2018, I prayed that God would keep building on my faith and place a focus in my mind again.  For the past couple weeks, no word felt right as I tried to pick one word for this year.  But today, God gave me my word for 2018: Surrender.


As I think of the ways that God tested my faith last year, I'm very aware that he may call me to surrender in uncomfortable ways.  To be honest, it scares me a little bit.  But whatever he has in store for me and my family in 2018, I want to surrender it all to Jesus.  

I felt that "surrender" was the right word tonight while I was listening to the song "Gracefully Broken" by Matt Redman.  You can listen below.

The lyrics say, "Here I am, God, arms wide open! Pouring out my life, gracefully broken...I surrender."  I know there are so many areas in my life that I have not surrendered to God.  I'm excited to see how God changes my heart over the next 365 days and draws me closer to Him!  I ask that you pray for me as I strive to surrender my thoughts, my actions, and my life to Jesus.  Here's to 2018...Happy New Year!


2017 - FAITH (Read More)

2016 - PERSISTENT (Read More)

2015 - SERVE


The Impact YOU Have

One reason that I love the game of basketball is because of the impact it has on people of all ages.  The game engages the craziest fanatics daily and engrosses an entire nation during March.  It captivates an audience and it will not let some of them go.  But one of the most significant influences the game has is the way it enamors a child's heart and inspires them to be like YOU.


I'm willing to bet that every player and coach grew up with a basketball dream.  For some it was reenacting the final play of the game when your team is down 2 and the ball is in your hands.  You audibly count down the game clock...3...2...1...and hoist up the game winning shot.  If it went in you celebrated the win; if you missed you were obviously fouled.  


For others it was watching Michael Jordan and trying to "Be Like Mike."  You would run out of the tunnel to the Bulls starting lineup song, "At 6'6, from North Carolina, number 23, Michaellll Jorrrrdannnnn!"  You would stick your tongue out on your way to the rim and attempt to impose your will on your friends with that fade away jumper.  And you're lying if you never tried to dunk the basketball while spreading your legs just like the Jordan logo.  


Maybe you were that die-hard player that would shovel the snow off the driveway in 14 degree weather to get shots up.  Of course, the cold temperature and snow would make your ball flat, so you had a couple more basketballs in the rotation.  You would put the flat ball in the hot bathtub you had filled in order to warm up the balls to be ready to go again in 15 minutes.  True dedication.


These were all stories from my life growing up, but no matter what your dream was there was someone that made an impact on you.  Someone that you wanted to be like and imitate as a player or a coach.  For me it was my next door neighbor, Nick Hancock, and his teammate Tony Romo.  Yes, THAT Tony Romo.  I remember going to their games at Burlington High School (now Karcher Middle School) and watching them play.  I would go home and imitate everything they did.  Their shooting technique, their hustle, their willingness to dive on the floor for loose balls, etc.  My eyes were on them and they made an impact on me.

From a coaching perspective, my aunt and uncles were a huge impact on me.  They were all coaches and I would grow up going to their games.  At family gatherings I would listen to them talk about those games.  I'm not sure if they ever realized how I hung on to every word they said, but I did.  And those words have stuck with me to this day as a coach.  

There is a poem that I love to share with people called "Little Eyes Upon You."  It goes like this:

There are little eyes upon you and they are watching night and day.

There are little ears that quickly take in every word you say.

There are little hands all eager to do anything you do;

And a little boy who’s dreaming of the day he’ll be like you.

You’re the little fellow’s idol, you’re the wisest of the wise.

In his little mind about you no suspicions ever rise.

He believes in you devoutly, holds all you say and do;

He will say and do, in your way when he’s grown up just like you.

There’s a wide-eyed little fellow who believes you’re always right;

And his eyes are always opened, and he watches day and night.

You’re setting an example every day in all you do;

For the little boy who’s waiting to grow up to be just like you.
— Author Unknown

So next time you go out and do your job with the game of basketball, keep in mind that there are little eyes watching you and they are soaking up everything you say and do.  Your actions, your words, your energy, your responses - they are setting an example for the next generation of players and coaches.  I believe we have a responsibility to be a light to all of those around us.  Take your platform to heart and do your best to use the game we love to impact other people in a positive way!

See Jesus In Me

My desire as a coach is for people to see Jesus in me.  Through the way I work, the way I behave, and the way I care, I want Jesus to be at the center of it.  My heartbeat is to see those around me grow closer to Jesus because of the way I live.

However, I'm really bad at it most of the time.

My work becomes focused solely on wins & losses.  I work a certain way for certain hours, so that people will give me their approval.  I do what I do because I want the praise and glory for myself.

My behavior lacks character too often and I fall victim to Satan's attacks.  I allow my feelings to dictate my actions, which often leads to sin.  I behave the way I do because I'm prideful and want to do what only makes me happy.

My care for others is non-existent  because their needs are not more important than my own, obviously.  I focus on what I want and lookout for me, myself, and I.  I lack the care that I need to have because I'm selfish.


I've been struggling lately to be a light; to be the example that God created me to be.  He called me to coach and he enabled me to have the opportunity to impact young men and other coaches.  I'm passionate about fulfilling that call with the gifts that God has given me.  I want to embrace the responsibility that I have because I know the impact those with the same calling had on me.  So here's what I'm going to do:


I believe that prayer is powerful and God desires to have that communication with us.  As a coach, I need to make this a daily occurrence with intentionality throughout the day.  However, I'm really bad at praying.  I don't do it enough and more often than not I fail to do it well.  Please pray for me to grow stronger in my prayer life!


God's word is powerful.  It speaks truth and breathes life.  I need to dig deeper into the word of God and find out more about what he is all about.  I'm really good at reading it on a surface level, but I desire to dive deeper and grow closer to God.  


I want to do more.  Not because I think it will earn me favor with God, but because I want to impact people.  I want to genuinely love them and show them who Jesus is by the way I live life.  I want my words to speak truth and I want my actions to display love.  I want the gospel to resonate with the people I come in contact with every day, so Jesus can do a work in their life.

I want people to see Jesus in me. 

Fueling Your Heart

Each day we are given opportunities to choose the influences we want in our lives.  The videos we watch, the music we listen to, the books we read, and the people we spend our time with.  Each decision we make fuels our hearts with a worldview that will ultimately impact the way we carry ourselves.  So, the question is, what is fueling your heart?

It’s easy to gravitate towards popular content the world is selling to us daily, but it’s important to understand what those stories are telling us.  Just because something is portrayed as “cool” or “relevant,” doesn’t mean we should be consuming it.  We need to be intentional about fueling our hearts with substance, promoting growth and excellence in all we do. 

Here’s a few examples of what I mean:

Spotify has over 140 million users that consume over 1.7 billion hours of music each month.  Currently, the song that is streamed the most and sits at #2 on the Billboard Top 100, is “Rockstar” by Post Malone (Feat. 21 Savage).  The first lyrics that millions of people are actively choosing to put into their hearts when they listen to this song are, 

Ayy, I’ve been f****** hoes and poppin’ pillies. Man I feel just like a rockstar.
— Post Malone


Last month, the top grossing movie at the box office was “It,” earning $290,775,232.  It has played in over 4,000 theaters countless times, entertaining millions of people across the globe.  I understand the thrill and excitement that comes along with horror movies, but at what cost?  The description that lures people to buy a ticket to this movie is, “A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children.”  Really?


In 2016, 68% of high school seniors said that they tried alcohol with their friends.  Their friends claimed they were going to harmless parties and having “fun” participating in drinking games.  Statistics also say that alcohol causes the most harm in people under the age of 21 and is responsible for over 4,300 deaths each year. 


The point of this article is not to tell you what not to do.  However, I think it’s important for us to ask ourselves the question, “what is fueling my heart?”  If we think about it, the shows we watch, the music we listen to, the content we read, and the people we spend our time with, influences our lives in a huge way.  If we want to be the best we can be, why wouldn’t we fuel our hearts with content that is positive and full of truth?  For me, it’s a battle every day.  I want to have fun and satisfy my need for entertainment, but I constantly need to examine what I’m fueling my heart with.  I encourage you to think about the influences you allow into your life every day and ask yourself if the fuel you’re putting into your heart is the fuel that will get you to your desired destination. 

Storytelling Through Social Media

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post for this blog entitled “Social Media: The Age of New Recruiting” (if you have a couple minutes, give it a quick read).

In that article, I talked about the importance of storytelling in recruiting both players and fans for your program. Whether it’s through photos, videos or written content, fans LOVE to know more about what’s going on with your team!

Any time I write an article, give a presentation, or talk one-on-one with people about storytelling through social, I always get positive responses. People are excited about the possibilities for their own programs because they themselves love consuming content from their favorite sports teams. However, when it comes to implementing those ideas, those same people are seemingly paralyzed with fear.

The perfect photo, the highest quality video, the best written blog post – the chance that what they produce might not be exactly “right” or as good as someone else keeps them from doing anything at all.


Get out your phone and just go. Don’t overthink, just try. In reality, chances are if it’s the kind of thing that interests you (a sports fan), then it will probably be interesting to those who follow your program (other sports fans).

You may be thinking still, “I don’t even know where to begin.” Here are a few suggestions of things that have worked on our team pages:

  •          Game photos
  •          Team pictures at special events
  •          Congratulatory milestone photos and graphics
  •          Videos of players competing (on the court, in the weight room)
  •          Video documentaries of trips
  •          Pictures and/or videos of community service events
  •          Instagram and/or Snapchat “mini” stories of 4-5 photos/videos
  •          Group photos

See, the goal isn’t perfection. The goal is to emotionally connect with your fan base. And the best way to do that is simply to story tell by regularly documenting your team’s journey. Don’t wait any longer. Start storytelling!

Tony Miller is an assistant men's basketball coach and head of the sports management program at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.  His blog, "Coach.Teach.Lead", contains more coaching and leadership resources.

What's Worked For Me (So Far)


I’ve been very fortunate as a young basketball coach to have landed a number of amazing basketball opportunities. A few of these include Duke basketball camp, UCLA camp, Georgia State Basketball Camp, Snow Valley Iowa Basketball School, working for PGC/Glazier Clinics, USA Basketball Clinics, Social Media interning for Kevin Eastman (former NBA assistant coach), and a trip to the final four. I’ve also been very fortunate to have coaches like Don Showalter and Kevin Eastman to trust me to do a good job when they bring me on board.

A number of coaches have asked me the question, “How did you land that?” Or, “How did you get connected with them?” Many ask for the purpose of trying to land similar opportunities. This article is a response to those questions.

My primary aim in this article is to give coaches who want some basketball opportunities a few ideas on what may help them by describing what’s worked so far for me. I’ll also talk about the financial aspect of my journey and share a few ideas worth considering about money, because like many young coaches, I also do not have access to a money tree.

But first… The reason I put (So Far) in the title is to be clear that I am not proclaiming myself to be a deep well of pure professional wisdom. I have a career win total that equals the amount of children some coaches reading this have. Ok, I’m slightly kidding. Unless you have 12 children… then you officially have me beat. But I’m closing in fast. Ha!

Hopefully you caught the fun at the end of that paragraph. Seriously, this is my journey so far and hopefully some reading coaches will benefit and get some ideas on how they can create opportunities for their coaching career.

 Clete Adelman, Mason Waters, Bill Van Gundy

Clete Adelman, Mason Waters, Bill Van Gundy


I first got involved with Duke Basketball Camp as a camper about a decade ago. And I was a phenomenal camper (which I must say is a slight distinction from being a phenomenal player). I connected with many camp coaches and even impressed the camp director so much that he remembered me… nearly 10 years later.

I emailed the camp staff in late 2014 about working camp the next summer, in 2015. I got denied.

The next year I sent another email application. I was told I was being considered. Then the deal breaker game.

A friend and I went to the University of Georgia to watch the Bulldogs take on High Point in an early season contest. As my buddy and I questionably snuck our way closer to the court, I noticed a familiar ESPN announcer. It was Duke’s Camp Director who also happens to work for ESPN.

After the game, I approached the announcer’s booth to say hello, and that I had applied this summer for camp. Security was telling me and my friend to exit the building. I persisted and said, “I know the announcer, I’m just saying hello.” They let me hang around a few more seconds.

After the ESPN team wrapped up their coverage, I quickly said hello to the camp director and mentioned I had applied again to coach at camp.

“Wow! I remember you as a camper” he replied. “I’m glad you came up and said hello because now I know that you’re not just some Joe blow off the street. We’ll get you on.”

I don’t know how many people that you want to work for also commentate for ESPN, but if he does, find what game he’s calling next, go to that school, and stay after. Ok, I’m kidding about that, but this is how I got connected at Duke camp.  


Now that I’m writing this out, I’m finally realizing how one door opens another, and that door opens another, and that door opens another, and on and on. UCLA was one of my most recent basketball opportunities and it makes sense to me to do this thing backwards.

I met Jim Harrick, former UCLA Head Coach, at a 2016 PGC/Glazier clinic in Dallas.

Quick side note: I’ve had people assume I come from a wealthy family and they just pay for me to travel all over the place and do these basketball things. The truth is that I do have very supportive and encouraging parents, but I am by no means rich. My mother does a phenomenal job supporting me financially but it’s not like I can do anything I want or go anywhere I want. My parents have been divorced for most of my life. My dad, unemployed since 2008, now lives in a camper in north Georgia and my mother is a school teacher. I’m a full-time college student. We’re not poor, but certainly not rich. I’ll get into some of my financial beliefs and how that’s played into these opportunities later.

So I meet Jim Harrick in Dallas at PGC/Glazier clinic in fall of 2016. A friend of mine, Faiz Ahmed, and I were talking in July 2016 about the benefits of volunteering at basketball clinics; you get in for free (save money!), and might get unique access to speakers and staff of the clinic. This rings true.

After that conversation I researched basketball clinics in Atlanta. I knew of PGC so I reached out to them about their Atlanta clinic. I’m from Atlanta, so I figured I could volunteer at the clinic, get free admission, and just take the 45-minute drive back and forth from my house each day. They exceeded my expectations: They paid for my hotel allowing me to stay in Atlanta during the entire clinic. That allowed me to begin a relationship (not like we’re best friends but we know each other) with an individual who I think is one of the best coaches in basketball period, Mike Neighbors of Washington and now Arkansas. He, myself, and some other coaches stayed at the same hotel and went out in the night and talked hoops for a few hours.

During the Atlanta clinic, I asked PGC/Glazier staff if they needed help at their Dallas, Texas clinic, which would be the next week… Like in 6 days. Fortunately they said yes., they needed help.

Just like the Atlanta clinic, PGC/Glazier covered my hotel and entry to the clinic so all I had to do was pay for the flight and find cheap food (While in Dallas I walked about two miles to a McDonalds  during breaks because that was by far cheaper than the hotel food and Uber costs money, walking is free).

If you don’t know about PGC/Glazier, you need to because they are really good. Their clinics have multiple sessions Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and will have multiple speakers presenting at once (all in different rooms of course).  Going into Dallas and looking over their speaker lineup, I knew had to be Jim Harrick’s room host. Not only did he win a national championship, he also coached in my home state of Georgia at the University of Georgia and I also figured he might have some influence in getting me into working UCLA’s camp, a position I applied for last summer and did not get.

Another side note: Persistence is key! The first time I applied at Duke and UCLA I was denied. And I am in no way unique here. Countless coaches have persisted when they weren’t given the jobs they wanted.

I told PGC/Glazier that my one request was to be Jim Harrick’s room host. In other words, room hosts are the speaker’s host. We get them water, papers, pens, anything they need. Being a coaches room host also allows for small talk between the sessions. Amazingly, the clinic staff allowed me to host Coach Harrick. By the way, he is a character and great clinician!

At PGC/Glazier I learned that In 1996, Jim Harrick hired the guy who is today’s UCLA camp director. That’s some leverage! Jim reached out to the camp director on my behalf and got me in!


Now let’s go backwards in this story. If you noticed I mentioned a conversation I had with Faiz Ahmed, who, by the way, is going to be a phenomenal NBA coach one day. But I hope he and I are on the same college staff one day.

The conversation we had was at Snow Valley Basketball School in Iowa. How did I get that opportunity?

This story is shorter and much more simple. I went to Coaching U Live in Orlando for two summers and met Don Showalter there, the head coach for the USA junior national teams and also the camp director at Snow Valley Basketball School. I also attended PGC/Glazier Atlanta in 2015 (as a guest, not support staff) and got lunch with Coach Showalter there. By seeing me at those two clinics, I guess he noticed I was a fairly dedicated young coach and he invited me to coach at Snow Valley! And of course I said yes.



Kevin Eastman, one of the best givers to coaches, talked about this recently at his Elite Training Camp last week but I promise I was doing it before I also heard it from him. Beginning my first year of college, I always budget my money, and one of the budgets I have is a basketball budget: it allows me to pay for coaching DVDs, clinics, gas when I go visit a practice, etc.

Each paycheck I get (which is never that much) goes like this, and I learned this from mentors at my church: Give some, save some, live on the rest.

Give 10% to the church or some of my favorite charities. Save/invest about 60%. Live on the rest.

For me, retirement saving has not begun nor have I started saving for my future kids college. Shoot, I’m still in college! Yet, investment for me in my financial plan mostly means invest in myself, my career, and my development. That includes paying for basketball clinics, DVDs, etc.

This past summer this meant taking the money I made from a previous camp to pay for the expenses of the next. For example, I coached a showcase event early this summer. I didn’t spend that money on shoes, my car, or my girlfriend, I saved it and invested it into paying for travel expenses to the next camp.

Not only that, I also started a lawn care company (I use the word company very lightly haha) with my best friend. Almost every single dollar I’ve made from there either went straight to my savings to pay off my final year of college debt-free, or it went straight into my basketball ventures.

Financial Side Note: Older coaches reading this will know this, but some young coaches might not have thought about this. This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned: Financial freedom allows you to do the things you want to do. Debt limits opportunities. No debt opens opportunities. One of the best decisions I’ve made was going to a very affordable in-state university. My college experience has not been the stereotypical American college experience, meaning it hasn’t been a lot of what they call “college fun”, but its been a good education and most importantly, affordable. And I’m so thankful it has been.

If you have financial excuses for why you can’t go to a clinic or a basketball event but all you do is buy ten pairs of sneakers a month or buy 4 concert tickets a month, then you are the only person holding you back. Saying “no” to luxury allows an individual to say “yes” to opportunity. And with enough opportunity, luxury just might have its way of showing up on the backside.

I haven’t seen this among many young coaches, but I have a number of friends who are complaining about not getting a certain job, or not being able to get a shot at anything when all they do is spend their money on their car or boat or girlfriend. Money is absolutely vital in professional advancement because it affords an individual to invest in themselves. Without it, people very much limit their professional opportunities because they can’t buy any products or services to develop!


My primary financial goals throughout college have been 1) Graduate debt-free and 2) Invest in my basketball career. One huge help in that has been eBay, Amazon, and Facebook Marketplace, and flipping items from thrift stores. What I’ll do now is show you a few items that I have flipped and profited from for the purpose of investing in my basketball career. Hopefully this gets you thinking of ways to make some extra money to invest in your development.

REI Backpacks – I am as interested in camping, fishing, and outdoors activities about as much as Kim Kardashian is. Well, she at least to appears to not spend much time in the wilderness. But I have found a good item to make money off of. That is hiking packs from REI.

A friend of mine invited me to REI, an outdoor gear store, about two years ago to their scratch and dent sale; their clearance sale. I went just for fun. However, while there, I began to think that a lot of those items could definitely be flipped online. So I did my research. Long story short, I have gone to three REI Scratch and Dent sales and profited a few hundred bucks off of it.

These sales attract a large crowd, so to get a good spot in line at these sales, I typically get up at 4 something to be sure I’m the first one in the door. The packs sell really well on eBay so I go straight for them when I get in the door. I’ll grab a few of them off the rack and make sure they’re not torn up too bad. Then I’ll buy them and have them listed on eBay the same day. Some I buy for $70 and sell on eBay for $140. Sell three of those plus a few other miscellaneous items and it’s a $250+ profit in one morning. Definitely beats minimum wage!

Another popular item I’ve flipped are ab lounges. The best flip I’ve done with these was pretty awesome. I found a $3 ab lounge at a Goodwill and had it listed on Facebook yard sale sites the same day. It sold for $85. That’s $82 just by swinging by a goodwill on my way home, listing it online, and meeting the person for pickup. Once again, that surely meets minimum wage.

The last item I’ll mention was a MacBook. I’m a member of several yard sale sites on Facebook. I noticed a macbook on one of the pages going for $50 and just felt in my gut, this is a steal. Without even doing any research, I messaged the seller and bought it the next day. I listed it on eBay and a week or two later it sold for $11,550. Hahaha no I’m kidding. It sold for $150. But still, $100 profit isn’t bad.

Now why am I mentioning this? I mention these items because explaining in detail some things I’ve flipped may give coaches some better insight into how to make some side money to invest in their careers. For me, a specific description of a few different items is better that just hearing “Go flip stuff.”


Sincerely, I hope this adds value to somebody. God has blessed me with these opportunities. And more importantly than these opportunities are the people I’ve met and now call friends. He has also blessed me with people in my life who have taught me the lessons mentioned above. I didn’t come up with any of this stuff or tactics, I just listened to wise people who I want to be like. Sometimes life is pretty simple, we just find a way of making it hard sometimes.

If you are a coach looking for more opportunity or have any questions about anything written here, I’d sincerely love to hear from you. I’m not a huge influencer in the basketball world, but I’d be happy to see if I could connect you with people I know. Or I’d love to talk with you about making side money because I know an extra couple hundreds of bucks could go a long way for some coaches.

Feel free to tweet me at @masonwaters_, email me at or call/text at 678) 656-6957. I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading!


 Jay Bilas Skills Camp

Jay Bilas Skills Camp



Owning The Unknown


The statement, “Life is a process”, is something we hear all the time. Every day we get to wake up is a piece of the process we call life. As I talk with the youths of this generation and also many adults, I hear the same repetitive words come from many mouths. Those words are, 

I fear the unknown and don’t have much patience in my life.

I hear these words consistently and I want to enlighten anyone reading this that has those words stuck in their head every day. We currently live in a world that is becoming so accustomed to instant gratification that it is trickling down into how people approach and deal with their futures.

First, if you are scared of dealing with the unknown, right now you must come to grips with the reality that you have NO CHOICE but to deal with the unknowns of life. This is life we are talking about right now. Stop fearing life and the unknown of your future. Start living confidently and have confidence in who you are. Be confident in the fact that you have so much life to live rather than fearing the years you have ahead!

RIGHT NOW, start being grateful for everything you have and understand that you can handle anything that is thrown at you in life. RIGHT NOW, stop envying other people and things. Honestly, STOP acting like the unknown in life has any control over you. Start owning the unknown!

Larry Taylor is the founder of Vertical Vision and a graduate assistant for the men's basketball program at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.  His playing career consisted of stops at Liberty University, Bob Jones University, and Southeastern University.