PNJ Spotlight Article

PNJ Spotlight Article

Kids Gain Sport, Life Skills at Evans' Free Clinic
by BRIAN ACHATZ , bachatz@pnj.com

With schools out for Presidents Day, free time was in abundance for students Monday, but former NBA star Reggie Evans and West Florida Baptist Academy boys basketball coach Joey Vara were adamant on not letting the idle time go to waste.

Evans and Vara, and members of their teams — Team Evans, Reggie Evans Foundation, and Vision Hoops — put on a free basketball clinic Monday at West Florida Baptist, where more than 100 elementary and high school athletes attended.

"For me, it's all about finding the right talent. Not necessarily on the court ... but looking for people with a lot of heart," Evans said. "A lot of the stuff (Team Evans does) is from the heart. It takes a lot of patience and you've gotta have a lot of love for the game of basketball.

"(Monday's clinic) had a great turnout. We got to show (Vara) and a lot of players and coaches how we do things. We plan a lot of the stuff, but we also go off the head. Coach Avery (Mosley, director of the Evans Foundation) runs most of the drills. We are good at brainstorming and thinking of things on the fly when we have to. We knew a lot of kids would show up, but we weren't sure if we would get more with the younger group (third-sixth grade) or the older (seventh-12th). We had a nice crowd the first session ... but in the second session, we were like: 'Oh man, we've got a lot of kids here.' It was awesome."

The clinic had competition, plenty of fun and boiled down to a life lesson at the event's conclusion.

The life lesson and inspirational story?

A chronological recap of Evans' career from his youth playing days to his illustrious NBA career.

Michael Dimick — Pensacola State College basketball assistant coach and a high-school friend of Evans — delivered the speech, touching on the adversity Evans faced. Whether it was his family's financial struggles as a child in Pensacola, the way Evans continued to work his way from junior college to Division I basketball at Iowa State and finally, Evans' perseverance to land an NBA contract despite not having his named called in the draft — Dimick provided a strong example of the importance of hard work.

"That really brought it all together at the end," Vara said. "Dimick talked about how (Evans) could have gone in so many bad directions when things weren't going his way ... but he kept working for his dreams. I thought it was a great testimony to the kids. Things might not go your way, but you've gotta keep fighting and working. I loved that and I wanted the kids to hear that. At the end of the day, our main  goal is to help people and help basketball players. That's what these kids need and I feel like that is what they got. We were just happy to open our doors to (Team Evans) and let them do their thing. I think we were all able to learn something."

Evans' passion for basketball is obvious, but his ties to his community and drive to grow the sport and exposure of local athletes is remarkable.

With the start of his AAU club Team Evans, Evans met Vara (who also hosts youth league in which Evans' son played) and discovered the two share a passion for helping basketball players reach the collegiate level.

"I try to surround myself with people who have a lot of love for the sport of basketball," Evans said. "With coach Vara right down the road from Pensacola (in Milton) and to have a caliber of coach that close to us, it was only right for us to do something (at West Florida Baptist). He's almost like an extended brother. It's easy to work with someone when you both have the same goal. What makes work hard is when people have their own different agendas.

"It was wonderful."

No Gym Required

No Gym Required

You Don’t Need To Get Into The Gym To Improve Your Game

A gymnasium doesn’t hold any special “magical” powers that infinitely increase your skills once you step foot inside. In fact, I believe that unless you are completely intentional about spending purposeful time in the gym and working on specific skills each time you are there, you will waste your time and could create bad habits.

Most of us don’t have unlimited access to a gym unless you are the coach, your dad is the coach, or you have an unbelievable coach and athletic department that will let you in whenever you want. Even your local YMCA won’t let you in the gym at any hour. Most likely they have some Spinning or Zumba class taking up the basketball floor.

So, what should you do when you can’t get in the gym? Here are five excuse-busters when you don’t have access to a gym.

  1. Use your driveway: If you’re a baller than you obviously have a ball or ten laying around the house and access to a driveway, parking lot or street. Most, if not all, of the greatest basketball players to ever step foot on the court started by dribbling a ball in their driveway. Ever hear of Steph Curry: http://es.pn/2fiRqg7
  2. Use your bed: Pistol, Pistol, Pistol. Every kid dreams of having his name cheered on the basketball floor. And what’s even better is when you nickname gets chanted. If you’ve ever seen the movie Pistol Pete you will remember Pete Maravich crawling into bed, basketball in hand, lying there working on his shooting form. Limited access to a hoop is no excuse for not working on your shot. Laying in your bed and correcting or mastering your form is all on you. We all have a bed of some kind and most, if not all, players have a basketball. Tonight, after your mom and dad tell you to go to bed, instead of checking Facebook or Instagram, work on your shooting form.
  3. Use your local park: If it’s free it’s for me. No matter what town you live in there is most likely a park nearby that has a basketball court. And the best part is you don’t need a coach to let you in. If you drove by a basketball court at the local park 20 years ago you would have seen pick-up games in full swing with 15-20 guys who all claimed they got next! Drive by those same parks today and you see weeds growing through the cracks running across the half court line and no players in sight. This means you will have the entire court to yourself to work on your game and put in those “unseen” hours.
  4. Use your phone: My 10-year-old has an iPhone and can access YouTube and so can you. You have so much access to incredible content right at your fingertips. You should have zero excuses for having such a low basketball IQ. Quit updating your status and use the technology to watch film. The game is broken down in such an easy way to learn that it boggles my mind at the lack of basketball knowledge we see in today’s game. Take 30 minutes a day to research one aspect of the game you want to improve on then go out and practice it.
  5. Use a wall: No partner, no problem. 100 ways to improve your handles, 96 scoring moves off the dribble, Shake and Bake dribbling moves… I could go on and on. No doubt that ball handling is an essential part of the game but we’ve (basketball trainers) have over trained that part (5% of the game) of the game. Mostly because it’s fun and looks good on Instagram, SnapChat and YouTube. Watch some of the most successful and disciplined teams in the game and you will see constant movement without the ball and precision passing. Most scoring opportunities occur off the cut and pass and not off the dribble. If you can drop dimes, thread the needle and any other passing jargon you can think of then you will be an extremely valuable asset to your coach and team. Find a wall in your basement, at the park, in the gym, against your garage and start passing to your “teammates”. Use your imagination and work up different scenarios in your mind to play out. Get creative with chairs and trash cans. Use tape as markers on the wall to hit. There are endless possibilities to improve your passing game.

It’s up to you to improve on your own. Don’t let your lack of access to a gym or a trainer stop you from getting better.

Coach Nate Boykin

Coaches Clinic

2 Timothy 2:15
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to attend a coaches clinic at Pensacola State College. Here are some thoughts and observations that I wanted to share.
The clinic featured two NCAA Division 1 coaches. Coach Cunningham (head Coach at Troy University) and Coach Peterson (Assistant coach for Loyola Marymount). Both coaches were at Pensacola State College to pick up their recruits that will be joining their program for this upcoming season. Both coaches were very gracious in taking time to talk to anybody that wanted to ask question etc. 
Observations:

NEVER STOP LEARNING
One thing that really stuck out to me right off the bat was during both of their sessions was they both kept bringing up that they were reading a certain article about this or about that anytime that had some free time or were on a plane, etc. they are both D1 coaches but still looking to better themselves and their programs and that's what has gotten them where they're at today!

BE COACHABLE
Both coaches have no intention of bringing in kids that are uncoachable. If they end up with a kid that is not COACHABLE and still chooses to be uncoachable, they let him go and give that scholarship to someone that is. This can also be said in many other areas of our lives. For our high school team I heard a player say that I have favorites on the team. They are absolutely right! Every kid that is COACHABLE, works hard, doesn't make excuses and has a desire to learn is a favorite! I can't wait to have 12 guys on a roster that are all my favorites!

PERFECT THE SKILL OF SHOOTING
Coach JP told a story about how they had one full ride scholarship to give and they had 8 different players they were looking at. The eight got narrowed down to three.. Then the head coach asked who was the best shooter out of the three. Not sure if that player will ever know that story behind him getting his scholarship, but it was great insight to what Division 1 coaches are thinking in certain situations.. If a coach had to pick between three guys your age group and he asked that question, where do you think you would be amongst other players?

FUNDAMENTALS
We've heard it over and over again. Practice the fundamentals of the game. This is where both coaches stood in front of about 15-20 high school coaches, trainers, and scouts and almost begged us to teach the fundamentals of the game to our kids and get them plenty of reps in practice. If this is something you are wanting to get extra help in, feel free to email us at visionhoopsacademy@gmail.com and we will be more then happy to give you the tools you will need.

STAY IN THE GYM
The formula to being a great player. Both coaches mentioned a few things regarding this subject. They mentioned first off that kids spend too much time playing video games instead of playing outside and working on a skill. Both coaches mentioned that the kids that they love the most are the ones who are constantly putting in work and improving their game. They put too many hours into their work to pickup a kid that only wants to be mediocre and satisfied where he's at. Studies say you have to spend 10,000 hours on something to master it. How many hours are you at?
My passion is getting kids in the gym that want to go all out in every drill in the workouts we design for them. Seeing a kid get better makes me happy.. But not satisfied. It only drives me more.

If you're one of those players that want to take your game to the next level and are willing to work for it contact us at visionhoopsacademy@gmail.com or reach us at 405-268-9061. 
Until then, thanks for checking out our website, God is good, all glory goes to Him! 
"Have a VISION, do what you LOVE, make a DIFFERENCE."
Vision Hoops
Proverbs 29:18