With one of my favorite parts of the year in college basketball season now in full swing, I felt compelled to list out five things that college basketball players must be able to do. Having played at the college level myself, I had to inscribe some of these principles with more effort than others, and they each depend on the player but are equally important. Some of these are more general and some are more specific, some on the court and some off the court. But in my experience these are five things all college basketball players should be able to do.
A fundmental basketball notion – come to a two-foot jump stop when you halt your forward progress with the ball. The college game speeds up immensely from high school but as always, the key is to slow the game down as much as possible. Jump stopping helps you do that by controlling your pace and decreasing the chance of making an on-the-move risk play. The jump stop allows players to gather that strong control and base in order to gain control, pace, and be able to make the right read.
You are called to execute at this level. You will be required to remember a full packet’s worth of half court plays, secondary plays, inbounds plays, and not to mention, you’re more likely to be called to understand how to run a play from more than one position. What you run has to become part of your unconscious fabric. It has to become part of you. You should be thinking about your sets and progressions as you go about your day. You have to embed context clues based on the names of plays and their purpose in order to help yourself recall where you’re supposed to be when the pressure hits.
This comes from a few different angles. Criticism comes with the territory. Your coach will criticize you in hopes of developing you. Being able to embrace that is a challenge in itself. Your fellow teammates will criticize you at some point because they’re your teammates. Depending on what level you’re on, some form of the media will take their part in criticizing your game. Lastly, the fans will always have their brand of critique. Of all these the one that matters most is the coach’s critique, but again, you have to be able to take it and use it.
This is especially true for the in-conference games where you might play the team twice a year (maybe even three times depending on the conference tournament). Scouting reports are thorough at this level for a reason. You have a chance to do your proverbial homework on your opponent. In most cases you also have film to watch of that team. Learning the opposition’s tendencies is a vital commitment because you learn how to spot strengths, weaknesses, and ultimately how to plan a constructive attack against a team.
College athletics is essentially an unpaid part-time job. Much is required of you to perform at a certain level. When you compete it takes a certain focus to drown out all of the potential distractions that come with being a student-athlete. There can be mental, physical, and social distractions that linger for college athletes. You never know how personal situations and relationships off the court can weigh on a player’s performance on the court. College basketball is at the forefront of college sports, and more specifically the phenomenon of March Madness, so college basketball players absolutely must be able to focus.