Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Interview with Coach Ryan Schmidt on Clifton Powell

Gaucho Hoops ("GH"):  Thanks for taking this interview Coach Schmidt.. So let's start with a brief background on what your philosophy is on coaching basketball , generally and specifically regarding Clifton.

Ryan Schmidt ("RS"):  Player development is big for me.  We want players to grow their games on the court, and to prepare them to be student-athletes in college.  At 22 Feet Academy, over the last four years, we've had 30 former players play college basketball, with 18 of them on scholarship at the Div. 1 level.  Importantly, of the 18 who received scholarship offers, 16 of them did NOT have offers when they arrived at the 22 Feet Academy.  My brother Matt and I created our own player development program that was specific to the needs of each player we had. It was the foundation of our program and everything else was built around that.  So yes, player development is very important to me.

With Clifton, he was a sponge.  He picked up a lot of information and absorbed all of it.  He had a lower back issue last December, and was treated for it over Christmas.  He could have continued to play with it in the Las Vegas Tarkanian tournament in December, but he decided to get treatment for it instead.  The timing of the injury was unfortunate because he was just starting to come around, but it was the right decision, because by February, he was 100% healthy.

The UCSB coaches asked about him over the holidays even though he wasn't playing, they offered Clifton a scholarship, and that's when he committed.

GH:  Besides his back, what obstacles did Clifton have to overcome?

RS:  Clifton had a huge learning curve initially with defensive and offensive schemes.  For example, he's got great individual skills on defense, but learning different team defensive schemes had to be learned at first.  On offense, he knew how to run pick-and-roll plays, but he had to learn 4 or 5 reads and progressions.  But Clifton was always very curious and asked many questions.  He worked his butt off and was able to go out and executive his new basketball knowledge.

GH:  What are his strengths? 

RS:  Clifton is freakishly athletic.  He has vertical hops (he can head butt the rim), can get by defenders with ease, and he's fast and quick.  He has long arms, and has a quick burst (first step). 

GH:  What separates Clifton from other good players? 

RS:  He has a great one-dribble pull up jumper.  But he can also finish at the rim.  He's a natural scorer.  The 22 Feet Academy was loaded, and he averaged 12.5 points per game off the bench, as he played behind two other wings who went on to play at Tennessee (Jordan Bowden) and Mississippi State (Eli Wright).  In fact, we had six Div. 1 players and handed [perennial national powerhouse] Oak Hill Academy their only loss last season.

GH:  What does Clifton need to work on to succeed at the next level?

RS:  He needs to be consistent on defense.  He can be a great on-ball defender with his length and athleticism, but he needs to work on playing team defense. 

GH:  Besides the wing, can he play point guard? 

RS:  We tried him and the others at point guard, but all three are natural wings.  So yes, he is best at the wing.  He has a knock-down perimeter shot, but his mid-range pull up jumper is what makes him special.  That's a rare skill these days--the mid-range game.

GH:  How is Clifton as a person? 

RS:  He's a great kid to have around the program.  He's very coachable, unbelievably humble, and respectful.  He's a great teammate,   My only regret is I didn't get a chance to coach him over the whole season.  I might add his father was very supportive, helping whenever he could, but never intervening with basketball. 

GH:  Thanks for the great interview Coach Schmidt. 

RS:  You're welcome anytime.  Let's stay in touch. 

GH:  Will do.  Good luck with your continued coaching and developing fine, young men.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Gaucho Hoops Interviews Coach Derek Walker On Jalen Canty

Gaucho Hoops ("GH"):  Thanks for taking this interview Coach Walker.  How many years did you coach Jalen Canty?

Derek Walker ("DW"):  I had the privilege of coaching Jalen 3 years at St.Patrick-St. Vincent.  He's a good student, athlete, and young man.

GH:  So why did Jalen re-commit to basketball after he committed to  Washington State to play football?

DW:  Jalen originally committed to play football at Washington and Washington State.  He's a monster on the football field--he had something like 20 sacks his senior football season.  Some comparisons of Jalen include Antonio Gates of the San Diego Chargers, who also played basketball in college.  But Jalen loved basketball, so he enrolled at Casper College, played another year at City College of San Francisco, and then signed with UCSB.

GH:  Jalen will play the center position--can he also play the power forward position?

DW:  Yes he can play both interior positions, but he is a true 5, a traditional post player who plays inside.  He blocks shots, he rebounds on both ends of the floor.  He has good hands and it wouldn't surprise me if he grabs 12 rebounds per game.  He has good feet so he can guard.

GH:  I read Jalen lost a lot of weight once he started playing basketball at CCSF.  How tall is Jalen and how much does he weigh?

DW:  He's 6'8" and weighs 260 pounds.  He has long arms and moved well with the extra weight.  Now that he's slimmed down, he moves even better.  He has really good feet,  There are Youtube videos where you can see he is outrunning [football] defensive backs and linebackers.

GH:  Wow!  He's much faster than I thought he would be.  Can he pass out of the post?

DW:  Yes, he's a good passer.  He'll become a better passer now that he won't see as many double-teams.  In high school, Bakari Hendrix, a former star post player for Gonzaga, was the big man coach.  Jalen benefited from that coaching.

GH:  What makes Jalen stand out as a player?

DW:  At CCSF, he played with better players, controlled the paint, and was in better condition.  He rises to the occasion, and plays better against better players.  Although he was still double- and triple-teamed at CCSF, it wasn't as often as the double teams he faced in high school.  He's a good athlete, with fast, quick feet, and good hands.

GH:  What type of leader is Jalen on the court?

DW:  Jalen leads by example.  He's more quiet than most leaders.  He plays to the level of competition  He's very coachable.

GH:  Did you counsel Jalen at all during the recruiting process?

DW:  He and his family narrowed the decision to a few schools.

GH:  Why did he choose UCSB?

DW:  He looked at the rotation and the roster, and saw he could get minutes.

GH:  Did Gabriel Vincent influence his decision at all?

DW:  They're very good friends, and he looks forward to rejoining as teammates.  Gabriel is a great kid--the whole family is.

GH:  Several former Gauchos have actually played in the NBA recently, some from northern California.  We all know Big Alan Williams signed a 2-year contract with the Phoenix Suns.  Many compare Jalen's game to Big Al's game.

DW:  Yes, that certainly didn't hurt UCSB's recruiting--the ability of Coach Williams and his staff to coach up an NBA post player.

GH:  UCSB also has a reputation for developing NBA-quality wings:  James Nunnally is from Stockton, and Orlando Johnson from Seaside.  And 7'3" center Greg Somogyi recently was the last player cut at the Los Angeles Lakers' preseason camp.

DW:  Yes, OJ was from Palma.  I got the chance to see all those players at various tournaments.

GH:  How does Jalen stack up in the weight room?

DW:  Jalen is naturally strong,  He can just walk into the weight room and throw up 250 pounds.

GH:  Yes, there is a difference between weight room strength and basketball strength.

DW:  Jalen has both.  He has a high booty, and a strong lower base.

GH:  Sounds like he has a strong core.  So moving him off the low block is pretty much impossible.

DW:  Yes.

GH:  Sounds like he is comfortable playing with his back to the basket.  Can he face up?

DW:  Yes, he can play facing the basket, but he is a post player who knows who he is.  He doesn't roam the perimeter and shoot 3's, like many post players do these days.

GH:  Sounds like he is an old-school school post player.

DW:  Yes.  I really appreciate his game because I grew up playing basketball in the 80's and 90's, when post players played in the post.

GH:  What makes Jalen special?

DW:  He has a good defensive slide, so he can help against penetration.  His teammates on the perimeter will appreciate him backing them up.  He has great timing so he can block shots with either hand.  He's right-handed, but he has more blocks with his left hand.

GH:  Thanks for the great interview Coach Walker.

DW:  You're welcome.  I look forward to watching Jalen play this season.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

UCSB Intercollegiate Athletics

Interview With Coach Julian Andrade On Max Heidegger

Gaucho Hoops interviews former Oaks Christian head basketball coach Julian Andrade on Max Heidegger, incoming UCSB freshman student-athlete.

Gaucho Hoops ("GH"):  Thanks for taking this interview Coach Andrade.  I just wanted to get a few quotes from you regarding your former player Max Heidegger, incoming freshman at UCSB.  First off, Max looks like he is a scoring point guard, based on videos.  Is he a good passer, too? 

Julian Andrade ("JA"):  Yes, Max has great court vision, and is a good passer, and can score in a variety of ways. 

GH:  What will he need to work on at the next level (Division 1 college basketball)? 

JA:  Max will need to focus on playing defense.  We didn't ask him to expend too much energy on defense because we asked so much of him on offense, but he realizes he'll need to buy in on defense, because at the next level, on any given night, your opponent can score 20 points on you if you take any possessions off.  He will need to consistently bring it every game. 

GH:  What characteristics does he possess that make you believe he can play defense at the next level? 

JA:  Max is athletic--he can jump, he's quick, and has a quick first step--he's explosive.  He understands team defense, not just individual defense.  But he will need to put in work on defense at the college level. 

GH:  How tall is Max, and how much does he weigh? 

JA:  Max is 6'2" and 175 pounds.  Last season, he had mononucleosis, a sinus infection which affected his breathing, and had back issues previously.  During the playoffs, he had the flu, so he was never 100% healthy for his senior year.  Yet, he still averaged 30 points per game against good competition (Marmonte League). 

GH:  He looks skinny.  UCSB will put him on a weight program. 

JA:  Yes. 

GH:  What separates Max from other players? 

JA:  Max has the ability to create his own shot.  He doesn't need an offense to be designed for him.  He also has this competitive fire you can't teach.  He raises his level of play to the competition.  He plays best against the best opponents.  He will have to adjust to bigger and better athletes in college, but then again, he won't be double- and triple-teamed like he was in high school, because he was so dominant. 

GH:  What's his natural position? 

JA:  Well, in high school, he had the ball in his hands often, so he was a point guard, but he is kind of a combination guard.  He can handle the ball, pass it, but he is also a prolific scorer.  He can play the 1 or the 2.  And he has a lot of flair in his game. 

GH:  What is Max the person like? 

JA:  He has great character, he's a good teammate, and he's very coachable.  He's not a vocal leader on the court, but leads by example.  He's very tough, and has played through injuries.  And he's very competitive. 

GH:  Coach, what counsel did you give Max during the recruiting process? 

JA:  None whatsoever.  He is very mature, and knows what he wants.  He made his own decision.   PAC-12 schools were recruiting him his sophomore year, but after he hurt his back, he sort of fell off the recruiting radar.  UCSB stayed on him.

GH:  From interviews I saw, he loved Santa Barbara, and felt that it was a good fit. 

JA:  Yes.  When UCSB offered, he didn't need to look anymore--he accepted. 

GH:  Thanks Coach, and good luck at Chaminade. 

JA:  Any time.  See you up in Santa Barbara at the games.