Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It Ain’t Over – How to Maximize Your Summer Skill Development

Shot From: Coach Francis National Select Skills Lab - Email Coachfrancisusa@gmail.com for training opportunities

As the proverbial season 2014-15 season draws to a close plans are readily being made for the 2015-16 to begin.  There will be a very brief timeout during the month of August as players attend national camps, re-evaluate their current circumstances and entertain new homes for next year.  This is the reality for many not just in the DMV but throughout the country.   

Yet there is one aspect that hasn’t been mentioned in this equation and that is the time and opportunity for players to get in the gym and work on their skill sets; what is referred to as player development. Each year players at every level should come back not only bigger, faster, and stronger, but better too.  There should be another noticeable aspect to their games, refining a new skill that they haven’t put on display before. If a player really wants to improve at the game of basketball here is some advice for maximum development.  Improvement should involve several integral points.

First, focus on hard skill development. Hard skills are acquired through intentional focus and repetition such as shooting, ball handling and offensive skills. A serious player may work on these about 2-5 hours per day depending on ability, age and specific goals.  Hard skill improvement is linked to investment of time.  Too often players are so focused on “advanced” skills, and they haven’t yet mastered the critical fundamentals to build from – the simplest example is if you cannot consistently make a Free Throw; master that prior to mastering the 3-point shot.

The second focus should be on soft skill development, specifically understanding the game and learning the nuances to react. This is best accomplished in a very competitive and intensive setting which allows for many opportunities to get the ball. Find a good gym or a group of competitive players and play lots of one-on-one and three-on-three - anything that provides more touches with the ball isolates hard skill work. PLEASE NOTE:  Five-on-five is one of the slowest ways to build skills because of the simple mathematical reality that players get less time with the ball. Playing an abundance of games at this time of year after a heavy game schedule is unproductive time wasted as it relates to maximizing development.

Third, develop a specific physical training plan such as building strength, quickness and vertical jump. Meet with a trainer to evaluate strengths and weaknesses. Work to build an intensive workout which emphasizes growth in these areas.  For players with high metabolisms, especially younger players diet is equally as important as it hydration meeting with a dietary specialist may be helpful to make sure the player is getting all their needs met.

Fourth, develop a mental plan working on basketball IQ, confidence, personal faith, and mental toughness. This is a crucial separator between good and great athletes. Though the course of the year there are so many players that are excellent athletes but do not truly understand HOW TO PLAY THE GAME.  How to make reads, cuts, and in some cases lack the ability to speak the language – this is the time of year where you work on that as the physical advantages that some players have now will slowly but surely dissipate as things even out athletically.  Taking time to analyze and break down game tape, watching high school and/or college games, reading books and publications from those who have played at a high level and/or coached there can also be tremendously helpful.

Finally, find a mentor who can help with planning and provide accountability to goals. The reason why camp is such a great training place is because players get saturated in both hard and soft skill training, they get an improvement plan in place and they can make the important needed changes.  They then take that learning and get to immediately use it in a competitive setting – competing at the highest level will allow you to measure yourself against the best and truly evaluate where you are at with your development.   If you can also combine this with national competition, players from around the country, you are truly maximizing your opportunity as you can evaluate where you are in your specific class outside of your local market. At the middle school level there are a select group of camps that offer high level instruction, high level competition, and a national platform.  Those serious about the game should ensure their attendance and participation in such events.  Once reaching the high school level these type camps become more exclusive, are driven by the sneaker companies, thus being able to show and become accustom to this environment has both present and long-term benefits.

Some of the best camps for middle and grammar school kids are:


CP3 Rising Stars National Camp (Class of 2020 Only) – July 31st – August 2nd, Atlanta, GA

CP3 Rising Stars National Camp (Class of 2019) – August 7th – August 9th, Winston Salem, NC

Get Me Recruited Southeast All-Freshman Invitational (Class of 2019) – October 3rd, Raleigh, NC


Bball Spotlight Future Phenom Camp (All Classes) – August 21st – August 23rd, Boyds, MD

Buckeye Prep Showcase (All Classes) – September 11th – 13th, Westerville, OH

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

DMV Impresses the Nation with Multiple NYBL All-Star Selections

The All-Star selections for the top middle school league in country; the NYBL was announced today and the DMV again has a heavy contingent of players in this year All-Star festivities.  Below is a list of all players selected and their associated game and team; congratulations to each players for their selection and phenomenal performances this year.  Each selection is well deserved and each player has done his family as well as the area proud!

Class of 2021


Trevor Keels – Team Takeover
Jalen Hall – New World
Christian Winborne – Bmore’s Finest


Trevor Keels – Team Takeover
Jalen Hall – New World
Chris Winborne – Bmore’s Finest
Rodney Rice – Team Takeover
Brayon Freeman – New World
Kino Lilly – Team Takeover
Elijah Hawkins – New World


AJ Thomas – Team Melo
Julian Ellerby – New World
Quadir Pettaway – New World
EJ Speight  - Team Takeover
Ahmad Harrison – Bmore’s Finest
Jake Koverman – Team Melo
Malik Missouri – Bmore’s Finest
Delvin Johnson – Team Melo
Damieko Ross Jr. – Team Melo

Honorable Mention  

Trey Thomas – Team Takeover
Jalen Miller – Maryland Playmakers
Jalen Bryant – Bmore’s Finest

Class of 2020


Cameron Byers – Team Melo
AJ Hoggard – Team Melo
Zion Harmon – Oakland Soldiers
Jordan Toles – Team Melo


Cameron Byers – Team Melo
Demon Clowney – Team IZOD
AJ Hoggard – Team Melo
Zion Harmon – Oakland Soldiers
Jeremy Roach – Team Melo
Jordan Toles – Team Melo


Tyler Brelsford – Team Melo
Chuck Harris – 023 Feet
Ishmael Leggett – Team Takeover

Honorable Mention

Josiah Freeman – 023 Feet
Austin Allison – Team IZOD

Class of 2019


James Bishop – Bmore’s Finest
Mikhel Mitchell – DC Premier
Marvin Price – DC Premier


Mikhel Mitchell – DC Premier
James Bishop – Bmore’s Finest
Marvin Price – DC Premier
Jay Heath – New World


Che Evans – Team Melo
Karim Couliby – New World
Cole Mathieson – Maryland Playermakers

Honorable Mention

Malik Anderson – New World
Gerard Mungo – Bmore’s Finest
Logan Curtis – Bmore’s Finest


*Bill Francis – Team Melo
John Perry – DC Premier
*Ray Hawkins – New World
Mookie Dobbins – Bmore’s Finest
Fred Standback – Team Takeover

*Will Coach in NYBL vs Nation Game Also 



GOLD BALL ALERT: No Rest for the Finest after Claiming Title as Best in the West

The DMV invades the West Coast Bmore’s Finest 2021 has earned its right to be in the discussion of top teams not only in the DMV but on a national scale.  As one of the youngest 2021 teams, they have continued to impress as the season comes to an end.  Over the weekend, the kids from Baltimore traveled across the country to compete in the 2015 AAU West Coast National Tournament held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Bmore’s Finest did not disappoint. The first team to face the Finest was Fresno Next Level (#9 ranked on the West Coast), and in pure Baltimore fashion the Finest pressured the ball from start to finish. They created double digit turnovers and frustrated each guard with relentless pressure.  Bmore’s Finest was exceptional on their rotations and trap areas.  Fresno had no answer and having no answer resulted in a
28 point lost in the first game of the day.

The Finest would continue their style of play throughout pool play and bracket play, which resulted in the same outcome, double digit wins in all four games (4-0). The Championship game was a little different. Fresno rebounded and made it to the Championship game. During that game Fresno became the aggressor early on and went up by 13pts.  The 13 pt. deficient was not enough to hold Bmore’s Finest, they began to turn up the pressure and connect on three’s. With four straight three point shots, the Finest would soon take the lead and not look back. The Championship game ended with a 58 – 50 win by the Finest.

The next stop on the schedule will begin down in Hampton, VA, where the Finest hope to contend for another National Championship.  Congratulation to Bmore’s Finest on the West Coast win!!!!!

DMV Division I National AAU Top 10 Finishers

Even with the institution of the new age rules for Middle and Grammar School players the DMV has again represented itself well nationally.  With three age groups still pending please find below all of the area’s Top 10 Division I Finishers in the country – congratulations to all the programs, players, and parents; we are extremely proud of your team and individual accomplishments.  You have done the DMV proud!!!!

8U Boys National Championship

National Champions – Team Takeover (Black)
3rd Place – New World
6th Place – Maryland Finest
8th Place – Chick Webb/Bmore’s Finest
10th Place – Maryland Hoya’s

10U Boys National Championship

National Champions – Team Takeover
3rd Place – M.A.D.E Signature

11U Boys National Championship

6th Place - Maryland’s Finest

13U Boys National Championship 

National Championship Runner-Up – Team Melo
10th Place – Team Takeover

14U Boys National Championship

11th Place - Maryland Playmakers (Black) 

*Three Age Groups Are Still Schedule to be played