July is here and the heart of the AAU basketball season is in full swing. Players and teams from across North America, and in some cases the world (I’ve met coaches and teams from both Dubai and Australia) travel from state to state, gym to gym in hopes of improving their ranking, gaining exposure, and ultimately securing a US college scholarship.
I am fortunate enough to have gone through the recruiting process both as a player, and now as the director of a program where I help parents and players navigate through a world filled with promises, hype and big dreams. I believe having been on both sides of this process has given me a unique perspective.
The game of basketball is growing, and truly becoming global. As participation increases at all levels the competition for US college scholarships become tougher each year. All this leads to the question I get asked all the time.
“Coach, what do I need to do to land a scholarship and what are college coaches looking for? The answer isn’t as easy as many parents and players want to believe.
With the increased participation the evaluation process has become more important than ever, as coaches do not have time to sift through the thousands of names playing AAU basketball. Coaches increasingly rely on scouting reports from talent “evaluators” which has spawned an entirely new industry in itself. There are now so many scouting services and talent evaluators, many with zero coaching or playing experience that this process becomes even harder. Now there are some very good ones, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve come across many reports and spoken to enough college coaches to know that these reports are all subjective. In other words, it comes down to the eye of the beholder. Things such as height, weight, age, school etc…at times vary from report to report
These reports and evaluations are not certified. They need to be. One good showing on any given weekend can send a players stock skyrocketing, or just as easily the can sink faster than they can recover.
I truly believe that a certified evaluation , which by no means is easy, is the direction we need to move in. This will allow coaches and players to have a better idea of where they stand so they can plan and move accordingly as they try to improve their stock. Example, a player who continuously tries to be the best scorer on his/her team but really needs to work on and build his/her game around good decision making to play at the next level.
So again, what is it? What does it take? What separates players when all things are even?
What are intangibles? Because even this is up for debate, but I have my own list of things I look for while evaluating talent.
Here are a few, not all, to consider…in no particular order
4. Mental Toughness
6. Playing Experience
8. Decision making
Like I said its July and everyone is on the move, including me. I just landed in Vegas to take part in the Fab 48
Stay tuned as I breakdown what some of these intangibles mean.
Till then….stay up and stay #Blessed
Ashitei Twins Loyalty Towards Ottawa Phoenix Basketball Club
With so many sponsorship deals, kids not having patience and friends wanting to stick together; the word Loyalty has become a lost art in today’s basketball world. It’s fair to say that there are very few programs nowadays that are lucky to have the chance of developing players from their first year of eligibility right through their last. It has become quite common for players to bounce around teams until they encounter one that meets all their immediate necessities. Nevertheless, like in most situations in life there will be some exceptions; and have people that will go against the norm, like many who have had the opportunity of playing for the Ottawa Phoenix basketball club.
Phoenix basketball program began in 1997 with the goal of providing for local youths from the area who wanted an opportunity to play basketball after the high school season was over. For about two years coaches Andy Waterman and Adrienne Coddett brainstormed on what shape and direction they thought would be best for the program. After the anticipating two years they came to the conclusion/ creation of the Ottawa Phoenix basketball club. From the very beginning Phoenix basketball goal was to provide young men with an opportunity to excel in their classroom and in the athletic arena. Decades later the organization continues to assist young basketball players on their voyage of discovery.
The club has done a phenomenal job of making players stick around throughout the years and now is recognized as one of the best basketball clubs in the city of Ottawa. They’ve helped develop star powers such as Garry Gallimore, Ishmael Kaba, Johnny Berhanemeskel, Jahenns Manigat and many more! They’ve had such an influence on players that guys like Jahenns Manigat who’s played four years for Division one basketball with Creighton Blue Jays and now for a pro team in Romania; has been going to the facility practically everyday to mentor the kids and tell them what it’s like to play college ball and professionally.
Two very special individuals who have followed the footsteps of other former Phoenix Alumni’s and demonstrated throughout their years with the program the definition of patience, hard work and loyalty. Soon to-be alumni’s of Phoenix basketball are the Ashitei twins, Shandon and Quintin. The twins have been great role-models for the younger generation of basketball players in Ottawa. They’ve not only stuck with Phoenix from beginning to end but they did it with class and are both leaving with tremendous amount of skills and character that will certainly benefit them in their next step as they prepare for University.
Their journey began in the summer of 2012. The twins grandpa woke them up one day and told them that he signed them up for this camp. The first thought was that they would attend the basketball camp for a week. It was the supposed to be the usual “fill a week of the summer” for the kids routine. At the end of camp, there were lots of hugs and thank you’s for a fun week of camp, and see you never goodbye’s.
The very next week of camp, the first two campers in the gym were Shandon and Quintin Ashitei! The (Twins) have been with Phoenix every since. Shandon and Quintin are now members of an elite group of Phoenix players who have competed in more than 150 games. The great accomplishment is a testament to Shandon and Quintin their loyalty and trust in our Ottawa Phoenix organization. Over their years, Shandon and Quintin have been approached about playing in other organizations. To their credit, they have stayed loyal to the program, and to our belief that ‘tradition never graduates.” Shandon and Quintin have now become veteran leaders and role models to our younger players and summer campers and have been classic examples of the fact that “you don’t change the message, the message changes you.”
Coming into high school the Ashitei twins we’re heavily underrated. After both getting cut from their local OBA team they’ve played with a chip on their shoulder ever since. When the first Phoenix AAU travel team was made the Ashiteti twins we’re finally selected, participating in their first club team. They both stated that “It was tough!” so tough, that in fact most people quit the team that year. And now, the twins are the only two remaining players on Phoenix that started back in 2012. Despite the tough years they’ve managed to stick through it and now have surpassed many of the players that we’re ranked above them as they entered high school. Now the twins will be bringing the hard earned loyalty to the university level. Their recruiting process has been quite interesting as they come as a package deal. They’ve both stated that whatever school wants one brother has to take the other as well. They’ve gotten over five university offers have kept their grades up all their high school career. They came to the program as young boys and are leaving as young men!
In the end the twins decided to attend Nipissing Lakers where they’ve received the Schulich Scholarship from Nipissing University! The Schulich is an academic scholarship based on their top four grade 12 marks and their commitment to community volunteer work.
Their coach Andy Waterman stated:
“It has been a pleasure to be able to work closely with Shandon, Quintin and their family. We have also been fortunate to be involved in so many aspects of the boys lives, from birthdays, international tours, huge tournament wins to endless hours traveling the highways and byways and Eastern Canada and the United States. The (Twins) have now carved out their own identities in the long Phoenix storyline. Along the way they have become Shandon and Q. They have helped usher in the next phase of Phoenix ball. I look forward to the next episode for Shandon and Q.” Concluded coach Waterman.
“The future is so bright, you gotta wear shades”
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