Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Your Body Language Never Whispers

One of my favorite college basketball commentators is ESPN's Jimmy Dykes. Dykes is my type of guy. His commentary is insightful and on point. He is honest about what he sees and consistently uses his soapbox to teach young players how to do things the right way. Last week Dykes reminded us of the importance of one's body language when he said, "A players' body language never whispers. It always yells." Those of us who were raised a generation ago and had parents who professed to be "ole' school" were constantly reminded about our body language. If I had a dollar for every time my mother told me to "sit up straight" or "wipe that look off your face", I would be a rich man. As a child and even as a teenager I had no idea how important it was to control and project positive body language. We teach players to only focus on those things that they can control. Your attitude, body language and effort are things within your control. For young people, especially those who are elite athletes their ability to control emotions, project confidence through positive body language and compete at the highest level possible sends a message that words cannot convey. Some of the greatest players were not big talkers because they mastered the art of sending messages through body language, energy and effort. It all starts with how you feel. If you feel good, then you look good and if you look good and feel good typically you play well. Remember, positive or negative body language never whispers. It always yells!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

You Have No Idea

Atleast 5 times a day I hear," I'm ready to go to the states. Can you get me a scholarship?" And the first question I ask is, "How good are you, for real?". The answer is always the same. But truth be told, most of the kids who come up to me or call me and ask me to get them a scholarship have no idea. They have no idea how much talent is out there. They have no idea how many young players from every place on the planet are trying to get the same thing they are. They have no idea how hard the next guy is working. They have no idea what it takes. They have no idea of the commitment, sacrifice and desire that is required to put yourself in a position to get someone to pay you to come to their school to play ball. IPRB introduces Frank Ferrari. A Class of 2014 PG from the Bay Area. Frank is not going to Kansas, Kentucky or Syracuse next year. He isn't a high major, top 100 player but he is probably better then you! Take a look and watch him workout and then ask yourself if you are truly ready. Shift Team, Be Elite and Frank Ferrari putting in work!

The 10,000 Hour Theory

We are all about telling other people's story and getting the word out to young players. The Shift Team gang out of the Bay Area is all about training and teaching the old fashion way. No gimmicks, no props just get in the gym and work. Devin Williams and the Wong brothers show what putting in work is all about. They are testing the theory that in order to master anything in life you must commit to putting in 10,000 hours of work. So, from playing the piano, to learning a second language to becoming an elite basketball player if you put in the time you can master anything in life. 10,000 Hours, Episode 1

Team Chemistry With Dr. Joe "Radar" Carr And The University of Akron

Dr. Joe 'Radar" Carr is a special, special guy. He has been helping players and coaches at every level of the game for the last 30 years. He is a sports psychologist by training. He has worked with Lebron, Melo and host of other NBA players and teams. We like to call him the "Coach's Coach". University of Akron Head Coach, Keith Dambrot started recruiting and signing players from Puerto Rico in 2010 with Alex Abreu. For those who wondered why two of the top guards from Puerto Rico signed with Akron the clip below should provide some clarity.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Slow Motion With Ivan Gandia

For those of you who have had the pleasure of watching Ivan Gandia play basketball one of the many things that sticks out is that he looks like he is playing in slow motion. He is a lefty so everything he does looks different but the result is always the same. Gandia makes plays and now he is learning to be a true playmaker by making those around him better. The 6'1 Class of 2016 PG is doing his thing at high school powerhouse Huntington Prep. He decided to transfer late this summer after having an incredible run with the PR 16U National Team. IPRB caught up with Gandia in between taking midterms. Q: You were one of the last kids from the 2016 PR Playmakers Team to decide to go to the states. Why did you decide to leave? A: It will challenge me in all aspects of my life. In the basketball court, academically and also in life because I had to leave friends, family and old school to be here. Q: Moving from Puerto Rico to West Virginia is a huge jump. What is living in West Virginia like? A: It's a lot different. Moving from a tropical island in PR to West Virginia where it gets to cold sometimes was hard. Hopefully I'm adapting well to the weather. Also, the people are so nice so sometimes I feel like I'm home. Q: You had a great summer playing for the 16U National team. You led the team in scoring and proved you could play against the best players in the world. What was that experience like? A: It was a great experience playing against the best players in America. Especially against the USA. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Q: A lot of young players are leaving Puerto Rico to go the states. Why do you think so many kids are leaving? A: The elite and best basketball is in the USA and better chances to go to college is better in USA. Q:You are playing with several high major D1 prospects at Huntington Prep. What is practice like everyday? A: In practice is where you earn your playing time and your spot on the team. In games we support and cheer for each other but practice is where you gotta show what you can do. Practicing with D1 prospects everyday shows me all the areas I have to get better when I have to guard people stronger quicker and better than me. Q: Huntington's Head Coach, Rob Fulford is a great guy and a really good coach. What have you learned from him since being there? A: I've learned that you gotta have pride in everything you do and play hard every time. Q: You talked about guarding players that are quicker and stronger then you. Is that one of the big differences playing at an elite level. In Puerto Rico most teams play zone. Was that an adjustment for you to learn to play man to man? A: Definitely. My last years in PR I played a little man to man but is totally different guarding man to man the whole game than just sometimes. Also guarding players quicker and stronger is a whole new level. Q: You never know how things may work out but you guys could end up playing St. Benedicts at the NHSI this year. Huntington didn't play in it last year but you guys are loaded with talent and should make a run at a National Championship. Have you spoken to Arnaldo, Nick, Josh or Edwin since you got t West Virginia. And if you play St. Benedicts do you think you will beat them? A: Unfortunately I haven't talked to them but if we play them I think we can beat them! Q: We got a hold of a video clip of you putting in work! . How cool was it to see yourself on a highlight video of your team? A: Well I felt really good because that is the second video of team highlights. Is a great experience. Q: You are playing this summer in the 17U World Championship. Your team has tons of talent. Do you think PR can win a World Championship this summer? A: We can get far in the tournament. We have a good team that can make damage. We definitely can be in the top spots. Q: PR Playmakers 16U is playing some live events this spring before you guys go play for the National Team. Are you going to play for PRP again this summer? Q: Hopefully I'll be there!

St Benedicts Prep To Participate in PR Hoops Tournment

Chino Torres and his PR Hoops outfit have been bringing elite HS teams to play in Puerto Rico for years. This year is no exception with New Jersey's St. Benedicts Prep participating in the PR Hoops Christmas Tournament later this week. St. Benedicts is in a rebuilding year after graduating two potential NBA players in Mike Young (Pitt) and arguably the best freshman PG in the college, Tyler Ennis (Syracuse). Only two players return from last years team in 2014 PG Jon Williams and 2016 SF Nicholas Washington. Third year coach Mark Taylor has won over 70 games in his first three years at St. Benedicts and doesn't necessarily agree that this year is a rebuilding year, "If we stick together and play for each other we are going to surprise a lot of people. We play as tough a schedule as any team in the country. We control our own destiny", said Taylor via telephone. This years roster which includes 12 new players including 6'10 Lithuanian Norbertas Giga. The senior center recently signed to play in the ACC conference at Florida State. Senior PG Jonathan Williams signed with Shaka Smarts' VCU program. This years team will go as far as the two seniors take them. They are the bookends to this years team. In addition to Giga and Williams, the team has atleast 10 other Division 1 prospects including fellow seniors Elijah Cain, Damontas Pavloskis and Carl Brown, juniors Mark Thomas and Kamar Mcknight, sophmores Nick Washington, Josh Colon, Edwin Cancel and Arnaldo Toro and reclassified freshman sensation Trevon Duval. The question is not if the team has the size and talent to compete with anyone in the country but can Coach Taylor get this team to gel and perform at a very high level by the time January comes around. Taylor has proven in his first three years at St. Benedicts that he is capable of beating teams that have more talent and are ranked higher. This years team and its schedule may present his must difficult challenge since arriving at St. Benedicts. Last years team finished the season ranked #2 by ESPN while this years team is not ranked by ESPN and is only ranked in one of the top four national preseason polls. However, their schedule will provide several opportunities to prove they are one of the elite high school teams in the country. St Benedicts plays several preseason nationally ranked teams in January including #2 ranked Montverde Academy in a rematch of last years National Championship game January 3rd on ESPN, #18 ranked Arlington Country Day on ESPN at the Hoophall Classic on January 19th, #6 ranked White Station High School in Memphis on January 24th and #13 Roselle Catholic at the Prudential Center in New Jersey on the MSG Network, January 31st. The PR Hoops tournament starts local team play on Wednesday. St. Benedicts arrives Thursday afternoon and plays their first game Friday night. They don't know who their first opponent will be but nonetheless they are not going to take any of the teams from Puerto Rico lightly. Former St Johns School PG and St. Benedicts sophomore Nick Washington told IPRB, "Josh, Edwin, Arnaldo and I keep telling our teammates and coaches that there are some really good teams in Puerto Rico. This is a business trip for us. Anything less then a championship is a failure for us. And we know every team and coach that we play is going to do their best to beat us. For teams and players from Puerto Rico this is probably the biggest game they will play all year. Coach Taylor, Coach Farrell and Coach P are gonna have us focused on coming down there and handling business. We can't afford to lose a game because we will never hear the end of it from our friends and former coaches."

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Josh Colon Has A Chip On His Shoulder

Class of 2016 St Benedicts PG Joshua Colon is the type of kid you love to route for. He never complains, has an incredible work ethic and plays hard on every possession. Colon along with Edwin Cancel and Arnaldo Toro joined fellow AAU teammate Nick Washington at St. Benedicts in August. Colon ended the summer on a high note when he made the Orange and White All Star Game at Five Star Basketball Camp Super Session in New York City. Colon scored 16 points in that game and showed he is a big time player." IPRB had a chance to catch up with Colon this afternoon and get an update on life at St. Benedicts Prep. Q: You put yourself on the map this summer at the Five Star Super Session in NYC. What was that like? A: The Five Star Camp was a great experience for me. I got to show my skills at a top camp in New York City! Q: You are roommates with Edwin Cancel and both of you are primarily playing on the St. Benedicts Prep Team this year. You are starting at PG on the Prep Team and had 20 points in your first game. Do you feel you can play at the highest level of HS basketball and why? A: I know I can play at the highest level of HS basketball. I have to put my hours in the gym and keep working. I'm learning from one of the best PG in the country in Jon Williams. For me, every time I step on the court nobody will out hustle me. I will do anything I can to help my team win. So I am going to keep working on my game so I will be ready when coach calls my number. Q: There is no question you are one of the top guards in the 16U category in Puerto Rico. You didn't tryout for the National Team last summer. Are you planning to do so this year? A: If I have an opportunity to tryout for the National Team of course I will go and do my best to make the team. Q: Like Edwin Cancel a lot of people questioned why you selected St. Benedicts. You also could have been a starter on most varsity teams and a superstar at Adianez here in Puerto Rico. Why did you leave and why did you select St. Benedicts? A: I left the island because I have a dream. I know I will have more opportunities to go to college if I play at St Benedicts. Plus, being with my brothers (Nick, Edwin and Arnaldo) makes it really special. Q: People have never given you the credit you deserve as being one of the elite players in the class of 2016 and one of the best guards in Puerto Rico. How does that make you feel? A: To be honest, when I didn't get a chance to tryout for the 15U National Team last summer made me work so hard. And not getting the credit makes me determined to work harder then anybody. I know I can play and I believe in myself. Q: Every time you go out on the court you play with a chip on your shoulder. Do you feel like you have something to prove? A: Every time I step on the court I have a chip on my shoulder to prove people wrong. That is what I have been doing my whole life. Q:St Benedicts is playing in PR Hoops Tournament next week. You played in it last year with your former school, Adianez. Are you ready for that? A: I'm super excited about playing in Mayaguez again. I played last year for Adianez as a freshman. I have a feeling it is going to be really fun. It will be a great feeling being back in PR and seeing my mom, my dad, my little brothers and my friends. I can't wait. Q: Like Edwin Cancel you had other options to attend school. Even though the Prep Team plays the same basic schedule as the Varsity team and you are the starting PG on the Prep Team did you consider leaving when Coach Taylor told you that you would primarily play on the Prep Team? A: I can't give up on my dreams because of that. I'm not a quitter and I will never be that! I'm just going to keep working hard and use this year to learn and work hard and get prepared to play on the Varisty next year. This race is a marathon not a sprint. I understand that so I never considered leaving. Only guys who don't think they can play here transfer and I know I deserve to be here and can play here. So the answer is No!

Edwin Cancel Is Becoming A Man

Class of 2016 point guard, Edwin Cancel decided to leave Puerto Rico in August to attend St. Benedicts Prep in New Jersey. Cancel was widely considered to be one of the top point guards on the island. Now at St. Benedicts Cancel is learning what it takes to play at the highest level of high school basketball. IPRB had a chance to catch up with Cancel earlier today. Q: You have now been at St. Benedicts for over three months. What has been your biggest challenge? A:My greatest challenge was leaving my family, my friends and my school. The fact that I am not the man in basketball and I have to fight for my position. Q: You injured your ankle and that kept you out almost a month. Are you fully healthy? A:I'm healthy. I need to work more on my speed and my body. I'm working hard everyday to get stronger and working on getting my ankle stronger. Q: St. Benedicts is loaded at the guard position this year led by VCU commit Jon Williams, Central Conn. commit Shakaris Laney and juniors Kamar McKnight and Elijah Cain. Coach Taylor didn't want you to waste the year sitting behind those guys so he asked you to play on the Prep Team to get prepared for a major role next year. How did you feel about that when Coach told you? A: It's only going to help me get prepared for next year because when I play against kids my age I'm going to be prepared physically and mentally for the challenge. Q:What is the biggest difference between basketball in Puerto Rico and the states? A: The difference is the athleticism, skill level of the players and the height of the players. Q:You are 5'9 and like many of the small guards coming from Puerto Rico you are having to prove you can compete at this level. What do you have to do to prove yourself? A:I have to prove that I can plat at 100% full speed at all times. I also have to prove I can knockdown my jump shot consistently and play lockdown defense. Q: Jon Williams (VCU commit) is widely considered to be one of the top point guards in the class of 2014. What are you learning from him? A: I'm learning how to play PG. I'm learning how to dominate being a small PG. I'm always watching how he plays defense and he has motivated me to play better defense. He is a really good guy and lots of fun to be around. Q: You will be playing Varsity on certain trips and tournaments. The team is coming to PR next week to play against the high school tournament in Mayaguez. How excited are you about that? Can anybody beat you guys? A: I'm very excited. I get to see my friends and family and play at home for one of the top teams in the nation. None of the teams in PR can beat us! We have the size, speed and IQ plus we have great role players who understand their role? Q: What is it like going to school with guys you grew up playing with in Puerto Rico? A: It's a blessing going to school with my brothers that I grew up with in PR. We take care of each other! Q: A lot of people are wondering if you made the right decision going to St. Benedict's. You could be starting on the varsity at most high schools in the states and a superstar in Puerto Rico. Are you sure you made the right decision? A: This situation has forced me to mature. At first I was going to transfer because I wasn't the man here. Then I realized I'm at one of the top programs in the country so if I transferred that would have been a loser move. And for sure I'm not a loser. I'm motivated to work hard and prove myself like I'm doing now. I definitely feel like this was the right decision.