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



Available or Approachable?


How many of you have said that or have heard a coach say that?  Everyone, raise your hand.  I actually don't have a door in my office, so this happens to be true for me every day!  However, I remember in college having coaches and professors tell me that their door was "always open," yet no one was ever in their office.  I also remember that there were some coaches and professors that ALWAYS had people in their office.  Both made themselves available, but why did only one of them have people in there?


To be available is one thing, but to be approachable is entirely different.  If you want to have a genuine impact on others you must be authentic in building a relationship with them.  Listen to them.  Learn from them.  Grow with them.  Love them.  Once people sense that you care for them they will begin to allow you to mentor them.  Your approachability will determine the significance of your availability.  Don't just make yourself available, make yourself approachable!

Summer Workouts Aren't Enough: 3 Reasons to do Something Else

The off-season, or the "on-season" as Coach Kevin Eastman likes to call it, is a time to improve and develop your craft.  I'm sure you've heard the saying, "if you're not practicing, someone else is, and when you meet him, he will win."  Knowing this as a competitor drives you to work hard and push yourself as far as you can physically.  You spend countless hours in the gym honing your skills and you flourish in the weight room.  You come into the season thinking you're prepared to rise up to the challenge, but did you really do all that you could to become the best player you can be?  


LeBron James just won his third NBA World Championship and while he puts in tons of hours in the gym, he also does something that sets him apart.  He reads books.  A lot of books.  It's a well documented fact that LeBron is a student of the game and obviously knows his stuff when it comes to the history of basketball.  He's commonly seen on the sidelines with a book in hand and has also been known to read books in the locker room before games.  Not only does he read sports books such as West by West by Jerry West, but he also dives in to other genres of books such as The Hunger Games, or the Divergent Series.  When asked why he reads books, LeBron said, "Because it strengthens my mind."  When it comes to superstar athletes reading books to improve their ability, he is not alone.  Here are three reasons why you should read more books if you insist on becoming the best you can be at your craft.

[Reading] strengthens my mind.
— LeBron James; 3-time NBA World Champion


It's no secret that the best athletes are able to process and react to various game situations quickly.  They are smart and understand what needs to be done and how it needs to be done.  Science has proven that reading books improves your memory and keeps your mind sharper for longer.  Would you agree that as fatigue sets in & you need to execute the scouting report at the end of a game, you rely on a sharp mind and good memory?  You bet!  Give yourself an advantage over the competition in these areas by reading books regularly.


Every leader knows the importance of relating to people.  Reading books naturally allows you to experience the world from other people's perspectives.  As you create a vision and motivate your teammates to embrace the journey, your ability to empathize with them will determine how far you go.  By reading books, you will develop an understanding of how to build relationships and relate better with your team.


Communication is one of the most essential skills in any sport.  The best players and leaders are also some of the best communicators.  As you read books you will be exposed to a variety of words and in turn, will increase your vocabulary.  You will learn how to construct sentences and thoughts in a powerful and effective manner; a well sought after skill in any position.  If you want to convey a message to your team, on or off the court, your ability to communicate is extremely important.  Reading will naturally improve these skills. 

In conclusion, I ask you this question: 


If you need some help, here are a few recommendations that I would suggest you pick up ASAP!

Toughness by Jay Bilas

Wooden by John Wooden

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Talent is Never Enough by John Maxwell

Training Camp by Jon Gordon

I also have several books that I recommend on the "Bookshelf" on Check it out!

Photos: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBA/Getty Images

Win The Campus Visit

It's a beautiful day outside and you have one of your top recruits coming to visit campus today.  You've had great talks with him and his family over the last few months and things are going great.  You were at every single tournament he played in last summer and took time out of your busy schedule during the season to make it to some of his high school games as well.  You've built a relationship with the family and really enjoy talking to them.  The recruit has even told you that your school is one of his top 3 and he's going to be making a decision after the visits.  But as he steps on campus, the first thing he notices is an overflowing trash can just outside of your office building...

Whether it's a full trash can or something else, it doesn't take much to negatively influence a recruit's visit.  Your job as the coach and coordinator for this particular visit is to ensure this never happens.  The goal of the campus visit is to win the recruit and his family and give them the confidence that your school is where they want to be.  Here are a few important aspects of the campus visit that could be the difference between signing your top priority and losing him.


There are really two parts to the first impression: The visual impression & the personal impression.  Sometimes the first one is out of your control, but you should make every effort to make this positive.  The second part is fully in your control and you better make it work. 

The visual impression: As a recruit and his family drive onto campus, they naturally begin to form an opinion of the school.  Is the grass cut?  Is the landscaping nice?  Are the buildings kept up?  These are just a few of the things they look at, but they are important.  I'm lucky enough to be at a school that does a fantastic job with their grounds.  You will never drive onto our campus and feel like it's a mess.  The landscaping is beautiful, the fountains are always flowing, and the trash cans are always empty.  Because of the grounds crew at Bob Jones University, my job as a coach has already been made easier.

The personal impression: This is where coaches typically win or lose the visit.  We want to win, so here is how we do it.  Psychologists have performed studies that say you have seven seconds to make a first impression.  When I go to meet a recruit in our Welcome Center or by their car, I always want to be the first person that they interact with.  Why? Because it's my responsibility as a coach to make them feel welcomed and I don't want to risk someone else impacting that.  Remember, I only have seven seconds to make this "first impression" the best that they have ever seen!  Do I have a positive attitude?  Is my posture conveying confidence?  Do I have a bright smile and welcoming eye contact?  Is my handshake firm?  Am I genuinely interested in them?  I know it sounds silly, but when we have a recruit coming on campus the "first impression" is where I spend most of my time preparing.  By making a great first impression we have now set the tone for a positive visit.


When recruits and their families come on a visit, it is oftentimes their first experience on your campus.  They have a sense of insecurity and may have a lot of questions.  You've already earned their trust and respect by making a great first impression, but now you need to build their confidence in you and your university.  One way we can do this is to have many of their questions answered before they are even asked.    

As the recruiting coordinator, I maintain constant communication with all of our departments on campus.  When we are planning a visit, I will coordinate with our Welcome Center to prepare every aspect of that visit.  As I introduce the family to our Welcome Center personnel, they are handed a packet that contains an itinerary, meal passes, and information about the university and their intended area of study.  Inside they will find meetings with admissions counselors, class schedules, tours, etc.  We always appeal to the recruits needs and make sure we accomplish everything their family wants to accomplish during their visit.  Being prepared answers several questions right away that the family may have been wanting to ask.  Again, by doing this we are building confidence in the recruit and his family that we will be ready to take care of them.  


Once we get the prerequisites of the visit completed, we want to make our recruit feel like he is a part of our family.  Every team says that they are a family, but very few actually live it out.  In everything we do, we want to be sincere and genuine.

One way that we begin to integrate them into our family is by making introductions to everyone we possibly can.  Our support staff, coaches from other sports, administration, students, etc.  No one is too small or too big to talk to our recruit and their family.  By allowing them to build relationships with people outside of basketball, they will begin to feel like a part of something bigger than themselves.  

We also involve our current players a lot in the process.  Whether its a workout, a meal or a campus tour, we want as much interaction between the recruit and our players.  We find this to be very beneficial because our players can give a first hand perspective of what it is truly like to be a part of our family.  They tell it how it is and give an honest answer to the questions being asked.  


It's always fantastic when a recruit wants to sign on the spot after his visit.  However, we never pressure a recruit to sign before he leaves.  Our staff always sits down with the recruit and his family prior to their departure and have a very transparent conversation.  We want them to be honest with us and let us know what we can do to make us the best fit for their son.  We have the utmost confidence that we did everything we could to make this a special visit for them, so we want to let the process play out.  There is no doubt in our minds that if a recruit is meant to be here, he will be here.  

Campus visits will be different for everyone, but one thing will always be the same.  Recruits and their families want to have confidence not only in your program and your staff, but in the university as a whole.  Can you give them that confidence?  If so, you are going to have a successful future for you and your program!

Photo credit: Derek Eckenroth; Bob Jones University

Homeless Never Means Helpless




Throughout my life I've heard these stereotypes applied to people less fortunate over and over again. Much of society has a view on the homeless population as people that have no work ethic, aren't responsible, and don't try hard enough. I'll be honest, I even had this type of mindset when I was younger. Growing up you're taught that working hard and doing what you're "supposed" to do will give you what you need, but I'll tell you right now LIFE does not always work that way! This last week I had the opportunity of serving with an outreach organization called New York School of Urban Ministry where I went into the streets of Midtown Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens to bring food, blankets, and Jesus to the homeless or less fortunate. But as I came to this organization with a mindset of blessing others, I was the one who was truly blessed.

The stigma that has been attached to the homeless that they aren't hard working or talented is completely false. My first night in Manhattan we went to a location where the homeless were able to stay until a certain time for shelter due to the cold weather. I met an elderly woman by the name of Erlma. She was walking down the stairs holding every type of bag you could think of while also holding a cup of coffee. I saw she was struggling, so I helped her carry the bags so she could get down safely. As we began to talk more, I noticed she was limping which she then told me she had a knee problem for the last five years. I went on to pray for her and her knee which brought us to her story. Erlma went on to tell me that she was a graduate at the prestigious Columbia University in New York where she attained two degrees and was once a college professor. As I kept on speaking with her I forgot all about the fact that she was homeless, but was viewing her as a human being with worth. I'll never forget what she said to me before I left. She said,  

The people you invest into do not always give you a return on your investment, but that’s not why we invest into others. We invest into others because we have a duty to love people and give them a chance to understand their potential.
— Erlma

I immediately gave her a hug because of how much those words meant to me.

Another woman I met named Paticia had her son with her that night. When I sat down next to Paticia she immediately began talking to me about the importance of having confidence when approaching my career. Her son, Tyrell, was only nine years old and I could tell he looked up to his mom like she was a superhero. Since Paticia is a single mother she would have to drop off her son at school every day somehow. She went on to tell me that before he would leave he would ask her every day what she was going to do today. Her response every time was that she was going to go save the world. Paticia told me she didn't want her son to know that she wasn't able to have a job right now. Tyrell just needed to focus on one thing and that one thing was just being a kid. As we got to the end of our conversation I told Paticia I wish I could just hire her myself. She went on to give me some encouragement in regards to my future, 

It’s hard. I’ll tell you right now that New York isn’t for everyone. But I see something in you. You have a gift with people and I don’t usually talk to people this much, so that should tell you something.
— Paticia

I went on to pray with Paticia, but she also told me she wanted to pray for me. She went on to pray for me in a very powerful way and I was truly blessed.

I had even more numerous amazing interactions with people such as Robert who went out of his way in one of the shelters to teach me how the game of chess has many connections with life itself.  Or Jason, who was younger than most of the homeless, helped explain to me the best way to reach inner city youth. Jason gave me knowledgable approaches to the youth of places like Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, or Manhattan. I couldn't believe a man with soo much knowledge was in his current situation.

As I reflect on the time I spent with this organization I would say the main lesson I learned is that the opportunity to serve others is an absolute gift. New York City has a homeless population of about 100,000. These people do not have less worth than anyone else. If we are truly going to apply God's Word to this subject then the worth of people is found in Christ, not in how big someone's house is or the title they have at their job. From my time this past week I have learned more from people that are less fortunate than I have from many people who are considered "successful" in the eyes of the world. That should tell us something. "Success" in the eyes of the world can take you down a detrimental spiral that can get us off track of what is important. Never take for granted the blessings we have that look simple. Because one day, those same blessings could be gone in an instant.


* I love seeing former players who have a passion for Jesus and serving others.  Larry is truly a special person and God is going to do big things through his life!  It was an honor to be able to share his story from his time in New York. - Coach Wingreen

The ABC's of Recruiting

Being a great recruiter is one of the most important skills that any college coach can possess.  You can be the best X's & O's guy in the world, but without the right people in your program, your success can be short lived.  It is our responsibility as coaches to accurately and effectively recruit  the student-athletes who will succeed in our program and ultimately benefit themselves and the university as a whole.  The foundation of being a great recruiter begins with these "ABC's."


It is very hard to win without talent, so the first step in recruiting a player needs to be an assessment of his abilities.  It is important that we gain an idea and form an opinion of the player as soon as we first lay eyes on him.  Raw athleticism and highlight worthy dunks are intriguing, but make sure that you do your due diligence and pay attention to the finer details of a player's game.  Does he see the floor well?  Can he dribble with his left hand?  Is his strength & conditioning at a place we can continue to build on?  Does he have a solid basketball IQ?  The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Don't be lured in by a player that can do a 360, but can't shoot, dribble, or defend.  Make sure that the attributes of his game will fit well in your program and be a solution to your needs as a team.  


Most coaches are pretty good at the first step of recruiting and can assess talent very well, but they lack the ability to build a relationship with that player.  High school and college age student-athletes want to be mentored and challenged by you as a coach, so take advantage of the opportunity to pour into their life as much as you possibly can.  I understand that there are rules and guidelines that make this step in recruiting difficult, but that shouldn't mean you can't do it.  Be creative and diligent in building quality relationships even if you are limited in the amount of time you can contact the recruit.  Use the time you have to ask questions about their friends, family, dreams, and life after college.  Don't limit your communication to only basketball related topics.  Make sure the recruits know that you care about them for more than just their ability to play basketball.  


This is easily the most difficult aspect of recruiting.  It's relatively easy to find talent and you can force yourself to build a relationship with recruits, but it is extremely hard to see what kind of person they truly are.  Players want to be recruited and they will do almost anything to make you think they deserve a scholarship, but how will they respond when adversity presents itself?  It is your job as a coach to look for signs of character throughout the recruiting process.  How does he respond to a bad call?  Is his body language telling me something positive or negative?  How does he talk to his parents?  Does he seek counsel or does he have all the answers?  How does he treat the people around him?  Again, the list could go on and on.  Obviously, there is no perfect kid out there who will never make a mistake, but it is the job of the coach to decide whether or not a player has the character that will represent your program's culture the way you want it.  Don't settle for poor character just because a recruit is an amazing athlete.  Talent is never enough and a player with no character will hurt your team more than they can help it.  

If you can effectively perform these "ABC's" while recruiting players for your team, I am confident that you will be setting your program up for future success!

Hold Me Accountable, Please.

When coaches and players talk about accountability, it is far too often done for the wrong reasons and wrapped up in rules and regulations.  The most common way to hold someone accountable is to throw a rule book or a policy at them with no thought as to how that will influence someone's life.  People, especially college student-athletes, are hungry for mentoring and accountability, but there are too few authentic leaders helping them. This is a problem.

If we truly want to hold others accountable and influence their growth, we need to do it out of love and sincere relationship building.  We need to spend time understanding those around us and commit to holding ourselves accountable first.  Best selling author, Jon Gordon, recently tweeted some great content related to accountability as seen below:

I think that Jon Gordon has this idea of accountability spot on!  Instead of talking about your program culture and its rules, try to lead with relationships, love, and the pursuit of excellence and true accountability will naturally flow from this type of leadership.  When we commit to this, our players and those we work with will begin to see our heart and want to give their best for you and the program!

Connecting With Players

The difference between a pest and a guest is an invitation.
— Joshua Medcalf

My desire as a coach is to connect with our players and build genuine, lasting relationships. I want to be a trustworthy mentor so that when something happens in their life and they need advice, I can be counted on.  


Our job as coaches is to push players to become better both on and off the court.  Sometimes this requires us to say things to our players that they don't want to hear.  Although we  constantly encourage and applaud our players successes, we also criticize and point out their flaws quite a bit, too.  And which one do you think most players dwell on and remember?  

Well, that depends.

Connect before you direct.
— Jamie Gilbert

As coaches, we need to pour our hearts into our players.  We need to invite them into our lives and make an effort to be transparent with them.  We need to be willing to share our experiences because we have been there too.  It is foolish of us to expect our players to feel a connection with us if the only interaction we have with them is on the court or during required team meetings.  There needs to be more.  We need to get into their world and be vulnerable.  They are going through a lot and it is our responsibility to be there for them.  We are only able to do that when we establish a sincere connection with them as people.  

I'm convinced that if I can authentically connect with our players off the court, they will respect me and listen to me on the court.  Now, the applause and encouragement means so much more to them and they know that when I criticize and correct, I am doing it because I believe in them.  


No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

More Than A Team



That all sounds good on paper and when we talk about it, but it’s not so easy to actually do.  Families have unique qualities that bond them together and there is an immeasurable amount of trust among them.  Each person needs to be willing to sacrifice their own comfort for the overall health of the team.


This may seem like an easy one.  Our teams spend every day together at practice, workouts, and on the bus to games.  But there is a big difference between “being with each other” and “investing in each other.”  There needs to come a time when each person realizes their role in the investment.  We can’t be halfhearted if we want to fulfill our role in the family.  We need to be all in.  Our time with each other can’t be out of requirement, but instead it needs to be because we truly want to be there for our teammate.  If we want to see our teams become family then we need to cherish our inner circle and put them before ourselves.  


Every family talks about hard things.  Families aren’t afraid to confront one another, but they do it in a way that is respectful and meaningful.  There is no family that is perfect and we need to understand that we are always under construction.  Our growth from a team to a family is an ongoing project and open communication with each other will allow this growth to occur.  Family member’s mistakes need to be held accountable and everyone involved needs to be willing to take criticism.  When we confront each other out of love and necessity, we are showing humility and care for our family.  Everyone needs to be conscious of when and where communication takes place as well.  Families need to keep communication within the circles of the group and can't spread personal information to those not associated with the team.  Open communication can only occur when there is an established trust with everyone.


Encouragement is essential to any family.  The more we pick each other up the more likely we are to have a positive impact on everyone.  Not only does encouragement boost our morale, but it also gives everyone a sense of security knowing that we can trust one another.  Not everyone on your team will have the same interests, background, or dreams.  In many cases these differences will cause friction, but in families those differences are nurtured and accepted.  We always have each other’s back.  When one or two guys decide they want to take it easy on a certain task, the rest of the family needs to encourage a better mindset and work ethic from them.  When each person does their job, the overall success of the team will increase.  


What family doesn’t have traditions?  It’s a common theme that is timeless for families and honored without question.  Traditions are celebrated by those who are part of the family and it really doesn’t matter what other people think.  We can’t be afraid to be silly and have fun with this because it’s what makes families special.  Find things that you can celebrate together and is common only to the members of your family.

Teams will play together and win some games, but they never become special without being a family.

Families laugh and families cry, but they are never broken and will always be there for each other.  If we want our program to be a family then we need to be willing to do things that make families great.  Trust each other, love each other, and make other's a priority in your locker room.  It’s not always convenient and it’s not always natural, but it’s always worth it.

Building Relationships

Building relationships is crucial in any job, but they are extremely important in the realm of coaching.  Without true relationships between a coach/player, coach/AD, coach/media, or coach/administration, there will not be any trust. Relationships are built on the foundation of trust and that trust can only be built by loving and being committed to serve others.

I am learning on a daily basis how to become a better leader and how to enhance my relationships with the people I surround myself with.  I like to believe that one of my strengths as a coach is my ability to genuinely love others and make them feel comfortable talking to me.  I'm a quiet person by nature, but God has given me the unique ability to relate to people and gain their trust.  I look forward to the opportunities I am given to impact others simply by showing an interest in something they love.

Although many relationships are developed through servant-leadership and a display of love towards someone, most relationships are maintained through tough love.  In my experience as a coach I have had to work with people in ways which they do not like.  College athletes, especially basketball players, do not typically like being told that they are wrong.  Many coaches will deal with an issue like this in one of two ways. 1) They will lash out at the player by yelling and insisting that they are right, or 2) They will give in to the player and let him do what he wants, even though the coach knows it will not make him a better person.  In my opinion, both of those options are unwise.  If we truly desire to build relationships with our players we must love them first.  We need to tell them things that they don't want to hear and love them enough to show them how they can make themselves a better player and person.

There are three simple acts that we must contribute to if we truly want to build successful relationships.  The three are:


As a coach this could simply be having an open door policy for a player to come into your office and talk about life.  It could also be something such as offering a helping hand anytime they may need it.  Reach out to others and offer your talent/knowledge to make them better.  However, availability is something that we need to make an effort at.  We can't always expect people to come to us when we are available.  We need to go place ourselves in the world of others more often. (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24; Ephesians 4:12)


Sometimes as coaches we feel that we need to talk, talk, talk.  There are times when the best thing for our team is to just listen to our players.  I'm not talking about "pretending to listen" while you're actually just "waiting to talk".  There is a difference between the two!  Make eye contact. Truly connect.  Listen for tips to run a play better.  Ask them to give insight on team functions and core values.  Asking questions and listening to your players is such a powerful way to build trust and ultimately build lasting relationships. (James 1:19; Proverbs 12:15; Proverbs 18:13)


Do something for someone without expecting anything in return.  Coaches and athletes alike tend to be very stubborn and selfish people!  It is human nature to look out for yourself when really we should be looking to do something for another person.  It's not natural for us to want to serve others, but it is necessary to make an effort if we want to establish genuine relationships.  Seek out opportunities to serve and make someone else's life better. (Acts 20:35; Matthew 6:21; 1 Corinthians 9:14)