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.

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