High school basketball season began in November, and this is also the time of the year when scouts are looking for new talent on the court. Freelance correspondent and sports photographer for The Hernando Sun, Alice Mary Herden, conducted a one on one interview with Micheal Jones, Head Basketball Coach for Pasco Hernando State College (PHSC). This interview was to get more information about what he as a recruiter looks for and what he, as a coach does to prepare his players for potential recruitment.
First, what exactly is scouting?
Athletic scouts are recruiters, and their main job is to evaluate athletes to find the best talent, skills, and representation for their sports team. Scouts may travel from school to school spectating potential athletes while attending pre-season or annual games and even tournaments. Recruiters can have the opportunity to not only view senior prospects but to evaluate the growth of players that are still in their early years of high school.
Since PHSC is a two-year college rotation for athletics, the rotation of players can be demanding as well as challenging. When players graduate, Jones is looking to replace those positions within his team. He also looks for athletes that want to go further not just in a career in basketball but pursuing their educational goals.
From the recruiter’s perspective
“We look for things that are not coachable,” Jones said. “And you want to look for athletes that are the next best player that has potential.”
Natural athletic skills like speed, for instance, are incredibly beneficial for basketball, but recruiters also look at what a player’s potential is.
“What is he going to be like in two years,” Jones said, “You have to have some foresight.”
As Jones explained, some student-athletes maybe overlooked, they may have a specific skill that has yet to be defined but being a scout you look for those “diamonds in the rough.”
Here is a simplified platform Jones uses for recruitment:
-Academics: Is that player going to graduate high school? For any student-athlete to be considered for recruiting, their grades must be within or exceeding the recruitment guidelines.
-Game Speed: In basketball, performance speed is essential. How much energy does the player display in between field goals and is it consistent?
-Vertical Ability: How well does the player accomplish a vertical leap? Is the player quick to recover rebounds and demonstrates responsible blocks?
-High-Quality Defense: How fast can the player get back on defense, how quickly can he switch from offense to defense?
-Skill Shooters: Shooting guards’ main objective is to put points on the board, but also the ability to steal the ball on defense.
-Size and leadership: Depending on replacement factors, point guards are vital due to their strength and leadership abilities. Can that player be a leader?
-Self-Discipline: How much is the player going to put in of his own time? Is he going to work on his skills beyond scheduled practices? Will he continue challenging himself to work towards defining his goals?
-Sports Ethics: Does the player show integrity, fairness, respect, and responsibility on the court?
-After the Game: Professionalism after the game, how does the player respond to winning or losing?
From the Coach’s Perspective
“It’s part of the coaches responsibility to identify talent and identify college-level talent,” said Jones.
The coach’s role plays the most crucial factor for any student-athlete. They are there to build a structure, athleticism and to discover any possible unsurfaced talent. Jones, is not only an athletic scout but a basketball coach and his job is to coach players athletically. He is also to instill the fundamentals, provide insight, set challenges, build-essentials as well as making those who would want to continue a career in basketball obtain a higher level of education to be recruitment ready.
Here are some important duties that a coach takes on:
-Academics: Education is a top priority. Ensuring grade standards and even disciplining game time if grades are low.
-Sports Performance: Having players contribute 100% to the game regardless of what level of competition.
-In-depth Game Knowledge: Training in all aspects of the game, fundamentals, and keep up-to-date on rules and regulations.
-Courtside Discipline: Displaying courtside professionalism.
-Recruiter Relationship: Building professional relationships with recruiters.
-Media: Prepping players about media and how to respond to interviewer questions effectively.
Media interaction is a subject not usually discussed with players; however, coaches can help by explaining the importance of having successful interviews. Offer players an outlet on how to be approachable, how to be interviewed and know how to respond to questions.
“I would work with the players, even create a template; these are the things you can say, and talk about things you shouldn’t say,” Jones said. “You’re still representing yourself, representing the school, representing the coaches, you also have to be cognizant of what you say.”
Recommendations for the Student-Athlete
“You want to make sure you represent your team and represent yourself well,” said Jones.
Jones explained that getting your High School Diploma is the number one goal for any high school athlete. It is not how many points you put on the scoreboard or how many blocks you achieve during your season; it’s that you are taking your education seriously.
The following points are important for the student-athlete to consider:
-Education: Keeping grades up, as well as being able to deter from distractions.
-Self Discipline: You have a love of the game, but how much do you go beyond practice.
-Court Discipline: Self-control and focus, always be in the game. Controlling knee-jerk reactions to situations that are out of your control.
-Interviews: Know how to handle and respond to questions reporters ask you.
-Social Media: Social Media is a way to get noticed. Be selective when publishing any posts on your social media sites. Sharing photos, video, and articles not only about you but also your team.
-Go to PHSC games: This is an excellent opportunity to see different levels of competition and may help choose a future challenge.
The role of parents
A parent’s job is hard, but essential to building communication and trust towards their child’s coach. Parents should be comfortable in knowing that their child’s coach can identify if the athlete can compete at a higher level of competition and be recruitable.
There is a way perhaps parents can get a jumpstart on their child’s interest to further his education as well as continue to play the sport they love.
“Invite them to the showcase,” Jones suggested. “We use that as a recruitment environment.”
It’s an advantage that may help prepare your child and an opportunity to showcase their talent.
Through the upcoming the Senior Basketball Showcase, Jones can see how players adapt in a college environment but also how they perform on his court, and parents can learn about the college as well as ask questions relating to the technical side of recruiting.
“College is a make or break you type environment, and it’s supposed to be challenging,” Jones said, “Can they take what they have, transform it and enhance it to higher levels.”
Many athletes in high school sports have dreams of playing for the NBA and follow the footsteps of pros like Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and more. However, the reality is there is more competition out there every year. The main priority, if you want to go further, is to be prepared on the court and put education on the top of your list.
“Basketball could be a tool for athletes to get a college education,” Jones stated. “That is the main goal.”
Senior Basketball Showcases are January 5, and March 30 at 9 am – 11:30 am at the PHSC West Campus 10230 Ridge Road New Port Richey, FL
For more information contact Micheal Jones at [email protected]