Today StudentSportsBasketball.com tackles common myths that pervade the game and why some of these common beliefs hurt the game and player development. We also provide beneficial alternatives for young players to this common train of thought.
1. Point guards are born, not made
“Lead guards just have that innate sense of how to play the position,” is often said in gyms around the country. It is true to some extent, but all guards must learn the fundamental skills of dribbling with their head up, learning when to begin dribbling and pick up the dribble, and recognize where and how to attack defenses. It’s not that point guards are born, it just that the above skills are A LOT HARDER TO MASTER than the casual fan or player thinks. People relate failure to master these skills with innate ability. Talented and dedicated players master these skills at a better rate and quicker and faster players can compensate for a lack of these skills better than less skilled athletes can. Also, players must practice and repeat fundamentals even at the highest level. “My brother told me when you get to the league, you got to get rid of all that extra B.S. in your game,” said Ethan Telfair, younger brother of 2004 Mr. Basketball USA Sebastian Telfair.
2. With new technologies and social media, no good players are missed by recruiters
Coaches and scouts have more access to watch more games and evaluate more players than ever before. Streaming games and online highlight tapes are readily available and faster, cheaper Internet connections and mobile devices give more players than ever the ability to communicate with coaches and recruiting-types. Despite those positive developments, college basketball coaches still heavily depend on their own eyes and trust the opinions of only a certain select people that they’ve built a relationship outside their own coaching staff. Sometimes, players also improve after a coaching staff has made up its mind on whom it is going to narrow its recruiting focus on. A good example is 2013 forward Jamal Aytes from JSerra (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.). We evaluated him on a few occasions his senior season and while he was a definite D1 recruit, we didn’t think he was UNLV material. He played well this spring and summer and signed late with the Rebels. Coaches are also limited by NCAA evaluation restrictions. When they do get the opportunity to watch, sometimes a potential recruit plays bad. It happens and will continue to do so.
3. Sometimes really good players are just stuck on real bad teams
With the sheer amount of high school teams in the United States, there are bound to be players with college-level ability on real bad teams. That’s logical, but take a look a bit deeper and you’ll find a common trait. Casual fans of the game commonly mistake a player that scores a bunch of points as a good player. Really good players are competitive and relevant to the outcome of the game, even more than their statistics. Even if his/her team is hovering around .500 or plays in a tough league, teams with really good to great players are never an easy out because you must account for a great player at all times. Even if that player is not scoring, he/she brings something to the table to help their team. Not every team can win a league, section or state championship, but you’ll rarely find a great player on a cellar dweller or on a team that is consistently blown out at the high school level. Look at the senior season won-loss record of the four players named first team all-NBA in 2012-13 that played high school ball in the Continental United States (Tim Duncan didn’t). LeBron James’ didn’t lose a game his senior year under incredible pressure. Kevin Durant’s team went 20-2, Chris Paul’s went 27-3, and Kobe Bryant’s team went 32-3. Magic Johnson’s high school team went 27-1 and Patrick Ewing’s team went 25-0. Point is, great players are productive within the context of winning.
4. You had to play basketball after high school to be a good scout and/or coach
It makes sense that the more playing experience one has, the more he or she is inclined to know the game. However, there is one factor of scouting and coaching that statement doesn’t take into account — perspective. Many players who spend time trying to earn a scholarship don’t watch other player’s games and in college, many players simply don’t have the time to. Some of the best scouts are simply around the game from a young age and some of the best coaches learn how to communicate what they know about the game to players of various ability. The better a player, the less time spent on the bench or near it. The bench is a great place to learn the intricacies of basketball — a key in scouting — and learn how to deal with people — one of the keys of coaching. Good players often execute plays or can make basketball moves that just come instinctually. Physically teaching it to someone else or verbally explaining what they did is a completely different animal. Good players are also competitive and don’t ever want to stop playing or winning on the court. Future scouts and coaches often times realize their limitations on the court much faster than talented players do, hence they begin to focus on the other aspects of the game. So keep that in mind next time you see someone that doesn’t look like they played. It doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re talking about.
5. Working out is better than playing in a bunch of meaningless games
It seems nowadays every player who starts for his her high school team or has aspirations of playing in college has a trainer or “workout” coach. Nearly all of the trainers we run into feel they the “magical formula” to unlock a player’s greatness and that their approach to workouts is better than the next. The truth is, unconventional training methods have been explored for a long time and nothing substitutes game experience. Now, playing in grassroots event after grassroots event every weekend in the off-season probably doesn’t help one’s game, but just playing and competing does. Many college basketball coaches and influential people in grassroots basketball feel one of the biggest problems plaguing today’s game is KIDS DON’T PLAY ENOUGH PICK-UP BALL. We’re not talking about handpicking teams at a local showcase or event, where the competition level isn’t challenging, or playing in sanctioned events where the best players tend to congregate on grassroots teams with the most influence. We’re talking about going to the local boys and girls club or park, “picking fives” and just playing, especially against older competition. Those experiences are invaluable and the outdoor game is more physically demanding with more opportunity for failure. Playing pick-up is just as important as working out and aspiring players should learn to balance workouts, practice, and playing pick-up ball with players with a higher skill level than their own.