What coaches are looking for in July
Many coaches did their evaluations in the spring period and are just honing in on select few, some are still in the evaluation mode, while others are building their list and looking for new leads. For players, this is one of the few times that they will see coaches sitting courtside at their games, taking mental notes and comparing them to other prospects.
I had a chance to speak recently with a dozen college coaches who shared what they would like to see and what they will look for during their evaluations:
Tad Boyle, Colorado head coach
I look for teams that value passing and players who make the extra pass to the open man, which is an important part of good shot selection.
More players need to focus on setting good screens to free up their teammates. It’s important to have the cutter slow down and read the screen, as well as his defender, and come off the screen, make the proper cut, while looking to score.
From the defensive standpoint, players need to take pride in getting multiple stops as a team.
Larry Brown, SMU head coach
First and foremost, I like to see kids accepting coaching. I feel that the coaches should not have to coach effort, but focus on execution.
Players should always respect their teammates, play hard, and I always look to see which players make their teammates better. That’s part of being a good leader.
Plus, outside of true point guards and centers, I’d like to see kids be more versatile with their skills.
Jim Fox, Davidson associate head coach
Most of the players on AAU teams are the best from their area, so I like to see where the leadership comes from on the floor. Who steps up and becomes a leader when times are tough and the team needs it? If someone is shooting way too much and hurting his team, will someone go over and talk positively to that player to help him and help the team?
From an attitude standpoint, when adversity comes in a game — maybe a bad call by the referee — I like to see if a player can keep his head in the game and stay respectful to the officials. I also like to see players respond when coaches really get on them.
Defensively, I’d like to see fewer layups in the half-court set and more help on defense. Also, it would be great to see all five guys play against the ball.
Mark Gottfried, NC State head coach
In the spring, I noticed a lot of players and teams playing to win. That needs to keep happening.
Defensively, I’d like to see more players step in, take a charge and help their teammates out. Plus, I’d like to see players stop the ball in transition and stop dribble penetration in the half-court set.
Mike Jarvis, Florida Atlantic head coach
I would like to see more of an emphasis on the defensive end of the floor from a team’s best offensive player by guarding the other team’s best player and to make a defensive stop when his team needs it most. The truly great players will take on the challenge of guarding the other team’s best player.
From a team chemistry point of view, I am always watching when a player comes out of a game to see where he sits and how he acts on the bench. Is he still engaged in the game, cheering on his teammates? I would like to see him sit right next to one of his coaches, get feedback and stay engaged in the game.
Derek Kellogg, UMass head coach
I like to see less one-on-one play and more sharing of the basketball. It’s always nice to see teammates who seek out the person who made the pass and credit or compliment the assist man. It shows togetherness and fosters chemistry.
I also like to see players who are vocal on both ends of the floor. It shows they care and are excited to play.
Alan Major, Charlotte head coach
I like to see players play to their strengths. I notice how players engage with each other and how they help each other out. Does a player help a teammate up off the floor after he has tried to take a charge? When the game is not going a player’s way, does he huddle up on timeouts or go off in his own world? When a player comes out of a game, does he listen to the coach and root on his teammates? Does he high-five or acknowledge the guys on the bench? That’s all part of being on a team and being a good teammate.
I also like to see if the role players and the players coming off the bench are prepared to contribute. Look at the Miami Heat: If it wasn’t for Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller and Shane Battier making big shots, the outcome of the finals could have easily been different.
Frank Martin, South Carolina head coach
I enjoy watching players who engage with their teammates on both ends of the floor. I don’t like to see guys who try and do it all on their own on the offensive end and don’t help their teammates on defense. When a player gets beat off the dribble, I am also looking to see if any of his teammates comes over to help.
Speaking of teams, the ones that get back and don’t give up breakaway baskets are well coached. I coached AAU and know you don’t have a lot of time to practice, but if a team can get back and defend that makes the game competitive, and that’s what they have to do in college.
From an offensive standpoint, when a player beats his man, I watch to see if he reads the help defense correctly and makes the right play. That’s a sign that he understands the big picture.
I also look at body language all game long. How does a player respond to his teammates? How does he respond to adversity, especially when a guy goes to the bench? I like to see if he slaps his teammates’ hands or just blows them off and goes and sits by himself.
Rick Pitino, Louisville head coach
It’s important for players to be competitive and for them to understand how hard they have to play to win. I want to see guys be passionate about the game because it’s hard to play and to win at the highest level, if you’re not competitive.
It seems as if nobody wants to play in the low post anymore, not even guys that are 6-8 or 6-9. I’d like to see more guys going to the low post, getting position and creating fouls — like Paul Pierce does for the Boston Celtics. I don’t care about a player’s frame; he should just get in there, get position and become more well-rounded . Look at LeBron James; he talked about how he improved his game in the offseason by working on his inside skills and adding a low-post drop step. He enhanced his overall game, and I’d like to see high school players do the same.
Lorenzo Romar, Washington head coach
I’d like to see players not so concerned with scoring and hit the open man instead.
Most importantly, they should play to their strengths and excel at them. Players shouldn’t try to do something they are not comfortable with. Save that for practice. If a player is a great rebounder, then he should stand out at rebounding. If a player is a lead guard, he should act like one by running the team and hitting the open man. Some look to score too much, and it leaves their teammates standing around.
Overall, I always enjoy watching the player who impacts the final score most.
Russell Springmann, Texas assistant coach
I am hoping to see players be competitive, unselfish and coachable. I like to see players who are good teammates and show passion for the game, whether it’s the first game of the day or the last one of the evening.
In order for a player to separate himself, he must find a niche, something he can be better at than everyone else on the court. Look at Kenneth Faried who played at Morehead State and is now in the NBA. He did one thing better than everyone else in college — he was relentless on the glass.
I also like to see what the great players do to impact the game when they are not scoring, like set screens, rebound, defend or hit the open man.
Jay Wright, Villanova head coach
A passion for winning is very important, and I like to see players with a good, positive attitude regardless if they are winning or losing. A player’s approach and attitude towards the game is vital. I also watch to see if they are making their teammates better because that’s key to promoting good team chemistry.