Today I want to send a message to all kids, but most importantly to 8th graders. Tomorrow we start Core Skills training at the Hoop Group, I do not believe there is a better 10 weeks in the winter for a player to spend their time. My hope is every kid and parent attends this event, I can only hope they will listen to my words. I believe I have seen it all over the years and my advice is from years of experience. The Saturday Core Skills in particular is very important towards the development and readiness of 8th graders getting ready to enter high school next year. But it also about teaching lessons in history….so pay attention kids!


Core Skills starts tomorrow- registrar here http://hoopgroup.com/headquarters/weekly-instruction-programs/core-skills-training/

Tomorrow starts a march for many 8th graders who hope to play high school OR college BASKETBALL one day. In six months most 8th graders will join their high school basketball teams for the first time. For the first time in their lives nobody will be impressed or care if they are playing up or how good they will be in the future. Each player will make there mark based solely on how they preform on the court from the moment they hit the floor.  Reputations and future productivity sounds nice but doesn’t translate into playing time. For many this will be an adjustment and some 8th graders will have prepared for the adjustment and some will have not. Gone will be the MOMMY OR DADDY who has coached the AAU team and gave their daughter or son ALONG WITH their close friends a comfort zone other players did not enjoy. Gone will be practice times based on a few players, who the team revolves around. Some players will find that being part of that super Grammar school team the went undefeated means nothing now. Some will spend most of their time watching practice rather than playing during the spring workouts. Some will learn that High School practice looks nothing like most AAU practices or grammar school practices. They also will find out that  AAU and High School basketball sometimes collide. My advice to every kid don’t worry about this stuff for at least the next 6 months… for now….JUST GET BETTER!



Why do I believe Core Skills is so important to so many kids? Because most kids don’t know this is the last time in there basketball careers that they truly have time to make major improvements in there game with a clear mind. Once a player gets to High School, their athletic world changes. The things that become important often have nothing to do with with their improvement. Like being recruited to a college, Scoring points and making All Star teams. Gone are the basketball camps that  were  just about fun and improvement. Now it’s about going to camp only if a college coach is present. Gone are the days of playing because you love the game. Now its what college colleges are coming to the game. Gone will be the days of friends and family enjoying the love of each others company. Soon there will be petty jealousies and attacks if a player happens to be more talented than another. Soon the AAU coaches will begin recruiting and the switching of AAU teams will begin. But with all that I say one thing to all the 8th graders…you don’t have to worry about such things right now, because that’s 6 months away,  for now do one thing…JUST GET BETTER.


Christina Antonakakis showed up well prepared

During the summer you will hear many of the freshman’s parents and the players themselves bragging about scoring in a summer game. They may even see their name in the paper for the first time and may think their time has arrived. Don’t believe that, because if this years freshman class is proving anything, it’s this….the summer clearly means nothings. If you happen to play well in a fall game and feel you have made you mark…Don’t believe it..because if the fall league proved anything its this…it looks nothing like the regular season. The good news 8th graders is you don’t have to worry about such things for 6 months, so for now do one thing…..JUST GET BETTER!

This year I’ve watched sadly as talented freshman… and sophomores who got limited playing time last year, prepared so poorly for the season. I saw freshman sucking up to coaches and forgetting to seek out older, stronger, wiser competition. They bragged about how they are doing in open gym against teammates. They worked out with there same AAU team, they same one they worked out with 6 months. They played games and more games and believed from their heart there were preforming at a high level because they scored points. Many of them are now paying dearly for such poor preparations.  Some freshman with big reputations are learning its not easy or as one college coach said to me last week “I would have never believe that kid wasn’t ready”. I could have told my good friend,  that freshman and her parents were totally missed guided, because they forget the most important thing for their daughter to do the 6 months leading up to now was to …JUST GET BETTER!




I say learn from the sophomores who got limited time as Freshman last year.  Many find themselves in the back of there teams rotation this year. They are disappointed and can’t believe how it has all gone so wrong, so fast. It sad and sometimes it simply comes down to perceptions they created as freshman; perceptions are hard to change, be they right or wrong. Many times parents try and build they child’s confidence playing games and staying away from top competition or aggressive training, only to find there is no short cut, but 8th graders you can take on ALL these challenges they avoided because you have time, so do JUST one thing…JUST GET BETTER.


D1 player Alex Barazotti continued to work after sitting her Freshman year

Some 8th graders have yet to pick a school. They parents wonder what school is best for their child academically and athletically. This is never easy unless you do your homework and are honest WITH YOURSELF. This year at NBS I had 4 superstar 8th graders; I sat all four down. I told them they would not ALL play varsity, I explained that at most 2 will play. I told them WHEN THIS HAPPENS not to overreact and to accept it with a smile  and work on getting better. I also reminded them they are the 4 most talented players in the program. But I wanted them to know politics will play a role in their near future and unless the coach was super strong the odds were against them. I told them to be ready to hear, you not ready yet, you don’t know the system, its chemistry and my favorite…your not mature enough yet….This is what I call “coach speak” when the coach is not being straight forward.  They called me weeks later and told me  “only two made varsity”. But these young ladies knew the deal and were prepared long before they got the news, somebody was honest with them before they started there journey. 8th graders know that just because you are the best player doesn’t mean your going to play right away.  Whatever school you plan to attend you better look the coach in the eye and ask him “DO YOU PLAY THE BEST PLAYERS?” because I can assure that is not always the case. We still have a few old school coaches out their like myself, who believe that upper class-men deserve first crack. But remember in the end, none of this matters if you do one thing before you get there…JUST GET BETTER



So to all the 8th graders out there spend the next 6 months grinding. Start today working on the things that will make you better tomorrow. Spent all your energy on skill development and getting stronger physically. When your AAU coaches tells you he will be loyal to you, don’t say thanks..say I prefer  you help me TO GET BETTER. Get to know you future teammates as much as you do you future coach. They will be the ones you will lean on during the tough times. Tell your parents, please don’t  BURN bridges when switching AAU teams or choosing a high school team, BECAUSE WE MAY NEED TO CROSS BACK OVER AT SOME POINT…. but also don’t force me to play with a coach that can’t develop me or wont be honest with me and most all don’t forget to tell you your parents, you need to above all….JUST GET BETTER


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