Saturday, August 17, 2019

2019 NCAA College Basketball Academy Experience - by Doug Meyer

My 2019 summer was packed with basketball. Our varsity boys played over 20 games in June, plus we had weight lifting and basketball skills sessions three days a week. I capped off the summer as one of a select number of head coaches picked to participate in the first ever NCAA College Basketball Academy, held at four regional sites across the nation.

The NCAA College Basketball Academy was created in response to recommendations from the Commission on College Basketball that was chaired by former Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice. The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) partnered with the NCAA, creating an opportunity for elite student-athlete prospects from the classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 to experience a sample of college basketball life. 

I was one of just 20 high school and college coaches selected to participate, and the only coach from the state of Arizona. I spent a week at the West Regional site, Grand Canyon University, living college life myself staying in a dorm, eating cafeteria food and walking the campus. The NCAA sponsored and funded the entire event, bringing in players from all across the country to compete and learn about the NCAA and the recruiting process.

There were two sessions during the week, and I had a team of eight players each session. I led the players through drill sessions, skill development, and two games per day. All on-court activities allowed the players to showcase their abilities in front of a large number of Division 1 head and assistant coaches. It was very interesting noting which college coaches followed our team and which players they were watching. It was a big thrill when one of my players received a scholarship offer after some impressive drill work and game play. He could barely contain his enthusiasm.

In addition to basketball skill development, the players also received instruction in five different life skills sessions. The topics ranged from social media dangers to the NCAA recruiting rules to information about the NBA and its business.

My motivation for participating in this event was all about growing personally and professionally. I applied back in March with no specific details about how the event would run. I just knew I would be around other coaches and have the chance to coach high-level players who have both talent and the drive to succeed. The entire experience exceeded all my expectations!

I spent 15 hours a day surrounded by amazing coaches who shared their philosophies about strategy, relationships, character, recruiting, and their passion for kids and basketball. The last two nights we found a conference room in the dorm with a white board and talked basketball for over two hours each night. Almost every moment I wasn’t with my own players, I was talking with other coaches, connecting with them personally and hearing about their coaching experiences. Our sessions were led by Steve Lavin, former UCLA and St. John’s head coach; Earl Watson, 13-year NBA player and NBA head coach; and other well-respected coaches and trainers. I wondered if I could incorporate my beliefs about character, teamwork, and passion when I only had three days with my players. Guess what? It worked.

I also practiced communicating individually, managing game situations, and connecting with players whom I had never seen before. It was thrilling to see the high caliber of play up close and interesting learning the backgrounds of all 16 players on my teams. It was a privilege to hear their stories and enlightening when I just listened to their interactions with each other. I developed instant respect for these young men due to their passion, work ethic, unselfish play, and willingness to fit in with teammates.

The entire week was transforming for me. It was a blessing that God would give me this opportunity. I would love to do it again next year. I know that I improved as a coach, and learned lessons that I can translate into my teaching and coaching at ALA. I can’t wait to start working again with my own players!

By Doug Meyer
Director of Mission Advancement
Varsity Boys Basketball Coach

Coach Meyer with one of his teams at the NCAA College Basketball Academy

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