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One Simple Way to Prepare Players for the Next Level

There’s no harm in young basketball players watching NBA games. But if those players really want to prepare for the next level of basketball, they should watch games at that next level, according to Lehigh University men’s basketball coach Brett Reed.

Speaking at the Basketball Coaching Clinic at Scranton Prep in late October, Reed told coaches that the players who see the game at the next level better realize where they stand and the intensity needed if they want to commit themselves to the next step up.

So for youth players, that means watching high school basketball games. And for high school players, that means watching college basketball games.

“I think youth who are interested in basketball are constantly looking for and at models,” Reed said. “The initial place they look is the NBA game, and that has merit, but it’s more distant, and it’s not necessarily directly connected with their experiences.

“When a youth team or individuals have a chance to connect with a very successful high school program or a very successful college program, now they start to understand the characteristics of success and the commitment, the teamwork that is a fabric of that success.”

This experience can be particularly important for a highly touted prep player. The best player on a high school team often feels like he or she can still thrive on the next level — and in many cases, someone else is telling that player the same thing.

In actuality, taking that next step is much harder. And many times, the person offering advice isn’t necessarily qualified to do so.

Reed, who led his 15th-seeded Mountain Hawks team to a historic upset of second-seeded Duke in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, suggests taking that player to a range of college basketball games to help the player understand the level of play and commitment needed at each level.

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“They can see what players look like, whether it’s Division I, Division II or Division III levels,” Reed said. “Especially if they’re older, aspiring players, they can see what the commitment levels take and what the talent looks like.”

In addition, Reed points out this practice of attending basketball games at different age groups “helps to build community basketball at all levels.”

Reed said his program at the Bethlehem, Pa. college is always welcoming of high school coaches because they are bringing players that Reed might one day be recruiting. And the same goes for lower levels of basketball. Reed noted that successful high school coaches often make connections with the youth players and programs who feed into the high schools.

“Some of the best local high school programs are successful because their feeder programs are good,” he said. “Their feeder programs are good because the kids are engaged at a community-wide level in the game of basketball.”

From GameChanger and Tom Robinson.

Basketball, Basketball Player Development