Thursday, September 30, 2010

Meet Stephon Smith (the latest Spartan)

(photo courtesy of Rivals)

When envisioning San Jose State commit Stephon Smith, think of the play exhibited by Charles Oakley or Buck Williams. Each possessed a blue collar reputation as a hard worker, tenacious rebounder and physical defender.

Granted, comparisons are always dicey (especially so when lining up a post high school talent with NBA All Pro selections) but these matches vividly demonstrate how the 6-foot-8, 235 Smith approaches the game and his style of play.

We talked with a number of Smith's past and present basketball coaches and certain descriptions kept getting repeated.

Coach Ian Turnbull, who currently mentors Smith at the Central Jersey Each One Teach One Academy (CJEOTO) in the Garden State offered this: "Stephon is very athletic, has an incredible build, is very quick and displays a great motor."

One of the advantages Smith has in attending CJEOTO is the academy offers these academic enhancements:

* Only student/athletes that have completed high school and have received their high school diploma will be accepted to The Academy.
* Our NCAA Clearinghouse approved student/athletes attend Ocean Community College classes where they may take up six credit hours per semester.
* Our student/athletes who have not attained the required SAT score for them to be approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse attend MAC Testing in Tinton Falls for SAT Prep classes.

According to Turnbull, Smith need to add two points to his test score to qualify.

CJEOTO plays 35-40 games during the season against top regional competition.

Turnbull, who requires the hard work that facilitates improvement, and Smith are collaborating to advance the young man's offensive and defensive skills set. "I really liked him when we were first talking about me going there and I like him even more now," Smith said.

A basketballer in high school, college and as a semi-pro, Turnbull is a former assistant head coach at the Edison Academy (also in New Jersey) and has operated the CJEOTO AAU program for the past nine years before also starting up the CJEOTO Academy. In its initial season, CJEOTO Academy was ranked #2 in the state behind St. Benedict's and Turnbull was honored as the New Jersey Prep School Coach of the Year. All 11 of his players from last season are now on college scholarships.

Lawrence Johns, the founder and coach of the Dallas Seawolves club basketball team, said of Smith: "He is a good kid, a hard worker and a pure muscle, brute force inside who will help San Jose State win a lot of games."

Glenn Smith, a longtime Texas basketball figure and proprietor of the Metroplex hoops site provided this, "Stephon is a real good kid, a bruiser with a good touch around the basket and also a nice 14-15 foot jump shot."

Granted, Smith is not (yet) a big points producer but his intensity, energy and toughness within the paint currently bring the majority of his scoring numbers and it's been a while since the Spartans have enjoyed someone on the roster who will not only bang with opponents but also be the first to initiate contact.

A Hurricane Katrina transplant and a New Orleans native (his mother currently lives there), Smith landed in Dallas at esteemed Woodrow Wilson High after a year of living with friends in Mississippi.

That's where another match made in heaven occurred.

"Coach {Pat] Washington made me into who I am," Smith said. Washington coaches the boys basketball team at Wilson. "I had a hard time opening up after going through Katrina," explained Smith, " and Coach Washington helped me."

He played football in middle school but only hoops come his freshman year. "I was too tall and guys were blocking me at my knees. I didn't want to get to the point where I couldn't play the sport I love" so he left the gridiron since football season always precedes that of basketball.

Asked about his best moments or moments on the court, Smith remembered two instances. "As a freshman, he recalled, "we went to state and won and I had 18 points in the championship game. This past year, we were playing South Oak Cliff and the game went into overtime because I chased down an opponent on a breakaway and blocked his shot. I think I had eight blocks in that game."

That brings to light one of Smith's many talents: running the court. "That's something I've been gifted to be able to do" he explained.

So why did Smith go with San Jose State? "I felt that they are going to take care of me as a basketball player and a student," he said.

Interestingly, there are both musical and athletic branches in Smith's family tree. "My grandmother married into the Neville Brothers family [the First Family of Crescent City music]," Smith explained, and Eric Bieniemy, Colorado's all-time leading rusher, an NFL running back and currently a coach with the Minnesota Vikings, also is kin.

Smith specifically wanted to thank Coach Washington, Luther Riley (his freshman coach in Mississippi) plus Larry Stamps and Thandi Wade of the Jackson Tigers club basketball team for all the help and guidance they provided.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

AO selected WAC pre-season POY

The Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook, really the Bible of hoops magazines (although it's more like a book), has forecast Adrian Oliver as the WAC Player of the Year. Congrats to AO.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A great read on recruiting

This is the most educational read about the realities of mid-major recruiting ever. A strong statement, yes, but take a read and see what you learn.

In Their Words: Life at the Mid-Major Level
Andrew Murawa
Rush The Court


Over the summer, we’ve spent time hearing about some of the next big-name recruits on their way to college basketball: Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist. We’ve heard the big-time schools announce their high profile games on their upcoming schedules: Kentucky going to the Maui Invitational and visiting North Carolina, Michigan State hosting Texas and going to Duke. But for the vast majority of Division I programs, they’ve been flying under the radar. There are at present 73 teams that participate in basketball in the six BCS conferences, but there are 347 total programs in Division I. Of those other 274 programs, there are certainly quite a few big-name programs: last year’s national runner-up Butler comes to mind immediately, as does Gonzaga, Memphis and a handful of other schools in conferences like the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West. But, we were also interested in how the other half (or really, how the other three-quarters) lives, so we spent some time talking to coaches, athletic directors and other people around the country affiliated with some of those other schools — those non-BCS schools, those “mid-majors” — and we asked them about how they recruit, how they create a schedule, how they market their programs, and quite a few other things. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll let them tell you their story, in their own words.

To begin, let me introduce and thank this week’s cast of characters:

Go here for the remainder.

Remember Andy Borman?

This comes off as if written by Andy's agent (if he has one) but it's great to learn where he is now positioned:

IMG Is Everything
How Andy Borman plans to transform IMG Academy into a hoops powerhouse.
Bryan Crawford
September 17, 2010

When Andy Borman took over as Director of Basketball at IMG Academies this past spring, there was little doubt that he was prepared for the task of turning one of America’s premier basketball training programs into an elite and competitive prep contender on the national stage.

You see, Borman knows a thing or two about coaching, development, and elite basketball programs.

Borman played basketball at Duke University (as a walk-on) and was a member of their 2001 NCAA Championship squad. While his name may not be one that you’ll remember from those Duke teams and his face may not be one that you’d recognize if he walked past you on the street, you may be more familiar with his uncle who’s pretty famous and a pretty good basketball coach in his own right, Duke Head Coach, Mike Krzyzewski.

Familial ties aside, Borman has constructed a pretty impressive list of accomplishments all his own.

He was a dual-sport athlete at Duke playing both basketball and soccer. In his collegiate career, between the two sports he’s made 7 NCAA Tournament appearances, won 4 ACC Tournament championships, 3 regular season ACC Championships, and has gone to 2 Final Fours to go with the aforementioned NCAA title in basketball.

He also holds a bachelor’s degree in History from Duke, was the Director of Player Development at Cal-Berkeley, and the Director of Basketball Operations at San Jose State University...

Go here for the remainder.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A few minutes with Calvin Douglas

6-foot-3 Calvin Douglas signed in May with San Jose State, making the move from a very successful stint at City College of San Francisco. SpartanHoops recently did an interview with him:

SH -- What did you do basketball-wise this summer? Were you working individually or with a trainer? Any specific areas you were working on?

CD - Throughout the spring and summer, I was able to get in the gym with Phil Handy three times a week. Some of the things we worked on were my ball handling, spot-up shooting, shooting off the dribble, conditioning and just understanding the game better. Phil also had me work out with college and professional players to adjust to the speed and intensity and just to get an overall understanding of what the game will be like for me now.

Also, I was able to get a lot of shots up Saturday mornings at my old high school. Coach John Woolery would open up the gym and let me get a hour worth of shots up on the shooting machine before we did some skill work also. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would go to Los Medanos College open gyms and get some run in. I would also come down to San Jose and get some open run in with some of my teammates, just to get know everybody and become more comfortable with them. Besides being in the gym, me and some close friends would go for a 8 a.m. workout which consisted of running hills and running on the track twice a week.

SH - What is happening right now for you with Spartan basketball? Are players able to practice as yet?

CD - Yes, I am able to workout and right now I'm just learning the system, trying to adjust and become more comfortable with it daily.

SH - Any idea how many family members will be coming to see you play at Walt McPherson Court this season?

CD - Since I am close to home, a lot of family members and my close friends have told me they will attend a lot of games. That is something I am really looking forward to.

SH - You've experienced high school, community college and how university academics -- what differences, if any, do you see?

CD - The difference from high school to community college was that you have to become more responsible. No teacher is going to tell you to turn your work in or remind you when an assignment is due. You have to pay attention to your syllabus and keep up with the readings or you will get left behind. There's not much of a difference from community college to a university. You're an adult, and the professors are going to treat you like one so they expect you to act like one when it comes to handling school work.

SH - First, it was Robert Owens coming from City College of San Francisco, now yourself -- Coach Justin Labagh is turning out players. Why did you choose to attend CCSF and how did Coach Labagh help you with your game?

CD - I chose CCSF because the school is known as one of the best schools in the state in academics and athletics, and because of the competition I would go up against in practice and games. Coach Labagh helped me a lot with my game by teaching me and everyone on the team to never be satisfied with just doing good and he pushed us beyond our limits.

In practice, everything was a competition from shooting drills, free throws, sprints, to scrimmages. By doing this, he just brought out the competitive nature in everyone and that is something you need to be successful.

He also broke the game down to us daily. Before every practice, we would watch film on our previous day practice and go over the good and the bad. That was helpful because the tape does not lie and if we messed up again you would continuously hear it and eventually you will do it right because you got tired of hearing the same thing.

Coach Adam (D'Acquisto) was also key in my development also because he helped with my defense and also my shooting along with Coach Tom (McNichol) and Coach Derrick (Bradley).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Five minutes with Chris Jones

Continuing with our series, SpartanHoops is checking in with members of the San Jose State basketball team. Today, we visit with Chris Jones, a 6-foot-4 sophomore out of Newark Memorial High, just up I-880.

SH - What was your daily work out schedule like this summer?

CJ - During the summer, my day started with an early morning workout at 24 Hour Fitness. I would spend about an hour and a half working on shooting and dribbling. I would then take a lunch break and eat a good meal. That would be followed by an afternoon session of skill work. I would usually work on weights at night.

I also played in the San Francisco Pro Am this year and on the days we played I usually had an early morning light work out.

SH - Was there a specific trainer you worked out with this summer? If so, why did you choose him and what did you focus on?

CJ - I actually worked with more than one trainer over the summer.

Gus Armstead - I have been working out with him since my junior year in high school. I spent a week working on skill development and game development in controlled scrimmages with pros. I really enjoyed his workouts because the players pushed one another to et better. Coach Nessman wanted me to work on catch-and-shooting and on using my penetration to the basket. I used the scrimmages to develop that part of my game.

Phil Handy - I usually worked two to three times a day with Phil. The sessions focused on skills. We did a lot of station work combining dribbling and shooting. We had to work at game speed so it was good for conditioning too. Each session ended with a controlled scrimmage.

Willie Clark - Coach Clark spent individual time with me at least twice a week. He corrected my shot mechanics. We concentrated on shooting and dribbling

Mark McKelvy - Coach Mark knows my game very well because he was my AAU coach. He worked a lot on my off-the-dribble game.

SH - Although you are just entering your sophomore year, have you chosen a major as yet? If so, why did you chose it?

CJ - I am considering majoring in either Radio, Television & Video or African American Studies. I am taking classes this semester in each area and will probably decide after this semester.

SH - Any favorite class or instructor from your freshman year and why?

CJ - My Eco class was my favorite. The class helped me to better understand college life and how to set goals and make the most of my time here.

SH - What is the difference -- if any -- in high school academics versus college academics?

CJ - The academic support that I got from study hall, tutors and my coaches was very helpful. In high school , your day is full from the first period to the last. In college, you may have two classes one day, one the next, a day off and then two more classes. Our coaches really made sure that I was not taking time off. The time between classes and study hall helps to stay on top of my classes.

SH - You came into a brand new social setting at SJSU where you knew nobody except for some of the other guys on the basketball team. What does San Jose State do -- if anything -- for freshman in order to get them acquainted with other students and newcomers to the school?

CJ - The school had a freshmen orientation, social events and other activities that helped us to meet new people.

Thank you for taking the time to interview me. I am expecting our team to have a big year.

We thank Chris for the interview.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A few minutes with Adrian Oliver

We recently reached out to Adrian Oliver in order to flesh out some of his summer posts and tweets (go here) and to learn more about how he got to where he is and what he was involved with this summer to maintain and add to his basketball excellence.

Q: Can you describe in detail (what it specifically consisted of) a typical workout day for you this summer, say when you were in San Jose?

AQ - Well that is hard to explain, reasoning being that i was not in San Jose too much this summer. I would travel to different places to workout with different trainers who have built reputations on working out some of the best in the sport. I wanted to work with the best and be challenged to my limit. After the year I had last year, I know that I now have a bulls-eye on my back and players are going to come at me every night. So in order to prepare for that, I wanted to manage my summer to the point that where everything I did was going to be harder than the actual games during the season. Typically, my home base as far as working out was in Berkeley, California. That is where I was at when I was in the Bay Area.

Q: This may be too similar to the question above but what did you do this summer to improve your ballhandling, quickness and speed and strength as you mentioned you were working on in an earlier post at the San Jose State athletics site?

AO - As I said previously, my home base was in Berkeley with trainer Ant Eggleton at Ant's Mind & Body. Working out with Ant was a really good experience because all of the workouts and techniques were all completely foreign to me. As you all know, I am a workout junkie, so I have pretty much seen it all when it comes down to working out. When it came to Ant's workouts, it was a completely different story. The way I built my speed and quickness and explosiveness was by building up key muscles in my hips, core, lower back and legs. Unique exercises that would isolate each one of these muscles and tear them down in order for them to build and maximize. Maybe one example I could give you guys would be that I would carry sand bags on my back while running up Strawberry Canyon above the Cal Football Stadium. This was crazy because the hill was so unbelievably steep that you had to stay strong and if you slipped or fell, it would basically be over for you. The canyon was one thing that I always looked forward to when I knew it was coming up.After I did my strength work, I would work with my ball handling coach, shooting coach and skills coach different days of the week. At the end of the week, I would usually finish it off with some yoga to increase my flexibility. Yoga is definitely something that I have come to love because just something as simple as stretching can be such a difference in my overall game. Sorry I can't give you guys my complete workouts this summer, but I have to keep some things a secret so my opponents won't find out -- haha.

Q: Can you also fill us in on what techniques, exercises, etc. you did when you were younger in order to become such a topnotch shooter?

AO - Man this one is simple. I simply just played the game. I learned to love the game at a very young age and from there just took off with it. Once I developed that love, it was easy for me to want to go out and practice all day to get better. The days that I did not want to go out and practice were the days that my Uncle Allen told me to get out there. He was such a vital key in the development of the player I am today. He was my first coach and one of my high school assistant coaches, so he was always around the game with me. He and I never had the intent of becoming a top notch shooter nor top notch in any one aspect. Our goal and still is to this day, is to be the most complete player I can be. To be able to do everything well, and do it well at a high level. So my shooting ability is just a God-given talent that has flourished with a lot of hard work. Since freshman year of high school, I've been trying to get up 700 to 1000 shots a day. The past two years, I have increased that number to 1000 to 1500 shots daily, either all at once or broken up throughout the day. I live by the quote, "Repetition is the father of learning." Especially with this sport.

Q: Once you complete your two remaining classes, what will you have your degree in?

AO - I will have my degree in Criminology. I don't necessarily want to go in that field because I want to be a college basketball coach after I am done playing basketball but I chose it because all the classes that I have taken have to do with understanding different kinds of people. Studying human behavior is something that intrigues me, so why not study something that I enjoy naturally. It has worked out perfect for me thus far.

Q: What is it about "Entourage" that makes it your favorite television show?

AO - Man, this might be one of the coolest questions that any media has ever asked me. Where do I begin with this show? I love everything about the show. I was a fan when it first came out a couple of years ago when it wasn't such a hit. My friend Spencer Hawes introduced me to it when i was Seattle and now I'm introducing people to it on a weekly basis. I think the reason that I like it so much because it is the life i want to live. Being Vince Chase and bringing your boys who have been with you from day one to Hollywood or wherever it is and just simply living the life. Giving the people close to me a better life or better said, a more secure life like the main character in this show is something that I want to do as well. Entourage is the best show ever created, hands down! One of my goals is to make it on the show if I ever get big enough to be on there. Man, now wouldn't that be cool ?

Q: How does your buddy Chuck Hayes do it? (it being standing just 6-foot-6 yet being recognized as one of the best NBA defenders and rebounders in the middle)

AO - I laughed when I read this because we were talking about this while I stayed with him in Vegas this summer, and he doesn't even know. He is just simply blessed and fell into a good situation where his special skill set is needed and he has shown the entire NBA he is capable of producing on that level. All it takes is one shot, and he took it and ran with it and now is living the dream. Having him at that level already really helps me because I have someone to talk to about everything that's going on with me because he has already been through it. This summer, I met a lot of players in the NBA and a lot of good people dealing with the league mostly through him and it motivated me 100% to keep working towards that dream.

We thank AO for taking the time to share his thoughts.