Cory Heitz is one of the consultants who I always make time for.  He has a great reputation because he is trustworthy and knowledgeable about the prep school world.  Therefore, when he asked me to blog for him, it was an easy decision. Hopefully this blog post will help some folks who Cory works with!

Over the course of my career I have learned from and collaborated with some of the best leaders in the world. I have worked for George Mumford (Phil Jackson’s team psychologist with the Bulls and Lakers), Bob Hurley (Hall of Famer), Milan Brown (Holy Cross), Jeff Brown (Middlebury), Charlie Brock (Springfield), Adam Harrington (Kevin Durant’s trainer during MVP season), Dave Hopla (Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen’s former trainer), and Dee Brown (NBA D-League).  As an instructor, I have leveraged those experiences and developed a coaching style centered on fundamentals, balanced with an energetic and team-focused approach. Consistency and unrivaled work ethic are hallmark characteristics of any successful basketball player, and I strive to inspire those qualities in every student-athlete and in every facet of their life. I challenge each of our players to Trust the Process.

In my work as a coach, it has become increasingly clear to me that athletes who model basketball as a framework for learning all of life’s lessons – both on- and off-court – are more successful as young adults. A holistic approach to sport – one that blends academics, leadership, service, and personal interests – is increasingly favored over a singular, linear path. My philosophy has helped propel young athletes from high school careers to elite college programs and beyond.

Here at Vermont Academy, we target student-athletes who can thrive in our demanding routine. Here are the questions we ponder when making decisions on our prospects:

  1. Does the student-athlete love the game of basketball?  Every young player claims they love it, but we need them to show it.  If they don’t love the game, they won’t be happy here.
  2. Does the student-athlete appear to be someone who is okay with leaving their comfort zone? Our strength coach (Casey Cota) is too talented to work with lazy ball players.
  3. Does the student-athlete have championship body language? I believe it was Plato who said you can discover more about someone in an hour of play than a lifetime of conversation.
  4. Will the student-athlete play the right way when 20+ college coaches are in our gym? Or are you a guy who hunts shots and over dribbles in attempt to force something.
  5. How does the student-athlete present on social media? Think before you post. Protect your brand.
  6. Will the student-athlete be able to balance rigorous academics while maintaining a dedicated approach to athletics? Vermont Academy is challenging, but also supportive.
  7. What are the parents like? Typically, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

If the prospect can live up to our standards, the next step is based on fit for the need of family and the school. Basketball recruiting can be very similar to musical chairs.  The process is fluidly governed by supply and demand. Here at Vermont Academy, we are transparent about the process and we will do our best to help you along the way.  Thanks for your time, and hopefully we will see you at a Vermont Academy open house this fall or a Vermont Academy basketball game this winter. Go VA!

Twitter: @VtAcademyHoops and @CoachAPopp

Instagram: @VtAcademyHoops

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