USA Basketball Coach Academy

That feeling of being a part of something greater than yourself, of belonging to an organization with pedigree and respect. That’s how USA Basketball make their coaches feel, also providing the resources to improve coaching ability. 2 days of trainings from some of the most experienced and accomplished coaches in the sport of basketball. 2 full days of learning, and I made sure to sit front row! 🤓

Learning from legendary coaches has been a very enlightening experience. So many gems to share with my young hoopers. ​​​​​

Day 1 was focused on team practice and how to address your team and players at each level. Boxing out and rebounding is tough to teach young players, here is a clip of a drill to help develop great rebounding habits, demonstrated by Coach Joe Mantegna!

Youth basketball players should be developing one on one skills on a daily basis according to coach Phil Martelli.

Day 2 we covered developing team culture. With introducing the sport to so many young athletes I feel as though teaching the culture of the game is just as, if not more, valuable. 

Every drill, every lesson, every conversation reminded me of one of my young hoopers. I’ve gained so much from the USA basketball coach academy I truly believe every coach should take advantage of this tour. I am now prepared to take my teams and individuals players to the next level. 


Off-season training

Found this amazing video of NBA guard Chris Dunn, when he was in college, working out with basketball LEGEND God Shammgod during the offseason. This is what it takes to be great. Dedication. 


Make sure you register for the Hoops ED summer program, “Improving Athleticism” for summer 2017!!!

The Late April Comeback 

It started with a text… “You definitely can bang on one of these guys tonight.” That text message had my eyes light up like an 8 year old on Christmas morning. 

The term “bang” or the act of “banging on” another player is hoops lingo for dunking on someone. And anyone that knows me knows how much #iHeartDunks

Due to scheduling I can’t always make every game in this league. My older cousin/basketball mentor, Fletch, was reminding me of the game time, but knew he needed a good way to hook me in, and dunks are the best bait. For the next 2.5 hours all I could think of was suiting up for my aerial assault.  

After completing all of my tasks for the day it’s finally game time, but I’m running late! As I’m making my way in to the gym, I notice the score and chuckle to myself. I knew we would win the game from the tone of Fletch’s text message but I didn’t expect it to be this bad. 

As I’m lacing up my Nike Kyrie 2’s one of my teammates says to me, “hurry up, we need you!” I look over to him and say, “yeah sure, I can tell by the score.” He looks at me with the most sincerest of looks and says “we’re down.”

I showed up with about 10 minutes left in the first half, and by the time I was dressed, stretched out, and ready to enter the game there were 3 minutes left on the clock and the score was 8-26. 

As I come to terms with the situation, the competitive nature kicks in and I have one thought, ‘we’re going to win.’ …At least that would be my mentality. At the next deadball the ref blows the whistle, the buzzer goes off, and I check in. 

“Who’s got skinny? …guys who’s got Kerry Kittles?!”
My antennae go up like Drake on a Tuesday. I look in the direction of the voice, and make eye contact with the comedian. I grin. I get it, you’re up 20 points so you assume our team is a joke. What difference does it make if this skinny guy that resembles a 90’s NBA star just subbed in to the game?!! Up until this point your team has dominated mine, and as a late entry to this competition, you’re just making sure I’m aware. The spirit of competition!! 

The spirit of competition also includes the preparation prior. The hours, days, months, and years of your life preparing for moments like these, and even greater. In hearing the “skinny” remark, I mentally went back to those days. My competitive fire was lit, and so are these highlights!

​8 points in 3 minutes. The first half was just a taste. I was just getting warmed up. That first 3 minutes was the beginning of the end, for the other team. The second half would be worse, and because of the “Kerry Kittles” comment I had no sympathy and it showed…

Slowly we made our way back in to the game. Picking the defense apart and getting good shots was key! Often times young basketball players feel as though dominating a game means scoring a lot of points. True dominance is shown when a basketball player is able to make their teammates better. 

Our biggest problem was rebounding, so I made it my mission to go after every missed shot. I found myself at the free throw line, a lot.

With just over a minute left in the game we would tie 50-50 and force their team to call a timeout. Perfect timing because I was absolutely winded. At certain points through out the game I probably should have subbed out, but I was determined to win and resting wasn’t an option. Thank God for the timeout…

With one final play our team would take the lead and never look back! Teamwork was the theme of the game and this was the icing on the cake. 

Immediately, reflecting on our well deserved victory, I realized  how absolutely rude, disrespectful, and dishonorable I had been on this day towards the culture of the sport I love. I, in know way, meant any disrespect to the basketball legend that is Kerry Kittles. It was the “skinny” comment followed by “Kerry Kittles” that set me off. I could only wish to ever be as good as he was. So to the gentleman that thought it was funny to make such a comparison, I am truly honored. 

Force v. Rhythm Shooting 

​Shooting with force results in an unbalanced, inaccurate, and inconsistent shot. Practicing shooting from too far away, too soon, often results in a “forced” jump shot. You’ll know you’re shooting from too far away if your shot starts to far under your chin, or if your shot becomes what’s called a “slingshot” as seen in the first clip here. 
Shooting with rhythm results in a balanced, natural, and more consistent jump shot. Practicing shooting from close range will develop the correct shooting mechanics and allow you to become a great shooter from 3-point range!

Championship Walk with Gonzo 

I initially decided to sit out this season due to an increase in work schedule. While attending the first game as a spectator, the captain of the team walked over to the side line and said, “It’s not the same without you.” Instantly, I felt a responsibility to the gentlemen I was watching compete, so the following week I made sure to bring my sneakers…

Early on we all discussed our championship aspirations amongst each other. Seasons past this league has been a very competitive one, so winning would not come easy. Still, our team had an underlying confidence, and believed our time to succeed was now.

Midway through the season our team captain Joe’l “Gonzo” Gonzalez suffered a severe neck injury during one of our games. Joe’l has always been the player/coach that brought our team together each season. His leadership is one of the strongest aspects of our team and team chemistry, without it we were lost…

Lost, but somehow found our way in to the championship, best of 3 games series. Without our captain the team was down big early in the first game. We had played this team once before during this season. The game immediately following Joe’ls injury. It would be the first loss of the season.  

The day of Joe’l’s injury it went without being said, that we had to win it all for him. Although we were down early in the game we stayed composed enough to execute a strong game plan down the stretch. In the second half, following THIS alley-oop play, we went on a 15-0 run…

This play would not only change the outcome of the game, but the entire season, as our team was able to win 2 games back to back in the best of 3 series and capture the league championship!!

​Dedicating this championship to our teammate  Joe’l Gonzalez 🏆


After months of rehab, Joe’l is now recovering at home, but still has a long way to go. His family and friends have started a GoFundMe account to help him in his transition and we are asking for any kind of donation to aid in the process. Thank you!!! 

Follow Joel’s road to recovery on Instagram: @walkwithgonzo #WalkWithGonzo