Jones: Shooting Is a Skill That Will Never Go Away
DeMatha Catholic High School (Md.) head coach Mike Jones has had the great fortune over the years of seeing players he has coached go on to the next level. That has been true not only at DeMatha, but also in his experience with USA Basketball. Last April, he coached the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Select Team to victory in the Nike Hoop Summit. All of the players on that squad are currently freshmen at major Division I programs such as Duke, Arizona, North Carolina, Indiana, Stanford, Texas and Kansas.
We asked youth players and coaches to submit questions for Coach Jones this week via Facebook and Twitter, and here are his responses:
My daughter is in the 6th grade but currently playing up on a 7th grade AAU team. Should she continue playing up or play her age group even though she is more advanced than they are? -- Ronald D. Carmichael Jr.
I definitely think that the more she can play competition that challenges her, the better. It's only one year, so the age thing shouldn't be an issue. Consider it playing on a high school team before her senior season -- she will be playing with older girls. Eventually when she plays with her age group, she should be in a better position to dominate.
I am 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds HS junior. I play for coach Hurley at St. Anthony High. I would like to try out for this year's 17u team. -- Myles-Mylo Patten
You are very blessed to play for such a great coach. You should have him (or someone on staff) make sure that you meet the eligibility age requirements. If you do, have Coach Hurley advocate for you to be placed on the "watch list." Then allow your play this season to make your case.
I'm 6-2, and finding it hard time to fully dunk … what should I do?! -- Drizzy Pàrk
If you are close, what's the reason you miss? If it's hard because your hands can't palm the ball well enough, work on your hand strength. A lot of players struggle because of this reason. I'm not sure how old you are, but if you are young (16 or younger), be patient. Work on being a great finisher at the rim. Dunking is great, but it's still only two points. Finish!!!
If you’re a big guy, how do you beat that annoying high school zone defense?? lol … Really though, how? -- José Hernandez Jr.
That's a tough one. It really depends on your team and your offense. How your coach wants to attack the zone will have a huge impact. You may post up really well, and because you draw so much attention, you free up your teammates. The best zone offenses have 1) great ball movement; 2) shooter(s) and an offensive-minded post; and 3) are designed to get the defense moving.
What do you give your team for a shooting drill usually that is the most effective? -- Joel Palmer
There are so many things we do. The most effective is encouraging them to get up shots on their own. Working with them one on one or in small groups allows us to correct fundamental mistakes and then to rep that – do repetitions -- as much as possible to become a habit. I've always found that the best shooters are those who know what a good shot is. Getting players to take shots in areas that they know, the coach knows and their teammates know they can score from there, that's how your team begins to shoot better.
Drills: Oklahoma drill is great for footwork. Form shooting is definitely something that younger players should do daily. Then any competitive shooting drill that is at game speed and are game shots can be really effective.
How do USA Basketball coaches and scouts notice you so you get invited to the Mini Camp? -- @ConnorPrintz
The USA staff does a great job of getting out to see players. Guys are added to the "watch list" often and the staff gets out to see them. It doesn't hurt to have someone vouch for a player and their potential ability to play for Team USA. One thing is that USA Basketball is all about TEAM. There are many talented players out there. The staff does a great job of picking players that make up the best T-E-A-M.
For undeveloped players, do you think it's better to spend more time on ballhandling or shooting? -- @pcortes64
Lol. Both! Especially if they are younger. I believe in developing basketball players, not necessarily a position. No matter what position a player is, he/she should be able to handle the ball. And shooting within their range is a skill that will never go away. You can lose athleticism and maybe even strength, but shooting is a skill that fades very slowly.
What specific exercise do YOU think is the best one to increase your vertical leap? -- Alexander Von Pachmann
Lunges and squats. I do know that we have the best strength and conditioning coach possible (Alan Stein - DeMatha and StrongerTeam.com) and he has a series called "Can you Dunk?" that shows exercises for this specific thing.
I really thank everyone for submitting their questions. I have been very blessed to have been a part of the USA Basketball staff for a few years and I'm always trying to learn from other coaches. It's great to get so many players and coaches that want to improve their games or craft. I wish you all the best of luck and GOD speed.