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How to coach young players

Had a few things on my mind today that I wanted to share with the Big Blue Nation.

People have asked me so many times, “How in the world do you get young players to play like they do?” And it’s not just the 18 freshmen that we’ve had the last four years; I was coaching Keith Van Horn and Kerry Kittles in their rookie years in the NBA, and both ended up getting near-max contracts. Here’s what I tell them:

  1. You cannot be afraid to coach them and hold them accountable. Age is not an excuse at Kentucky.
  2. Accept criticism even when it’s aggressive. Listen to the message then respond to it.
  3. Little things matter. Pay attention to detail.
  4. Accept your role and job within the team and perform it to the best of your abilities. No options!
  5. Compete on every possession against every player, in every practice and in every game. It’s the only way you can become the best version of yourself.
  6. Change habits and mindset that hold you back. Work to a new level and think more about your teammate than yourself. Don’t resist!

Also, I want to address a rumor that is out there before it spins out of control.

I don’t respond to every rumor that it is out there. As a matter of fact, I don’t respond to any rumors. But this is different because these are friends of mine in the Brooklyn Nets organization, from Jay-Z to Brett Yormark to Billy King. My relationship with them is to the point where we’re going to the Barclays Center to play games for the next two years.

It’s amazing what Brooklyn has been able to do as a franchise. They’ve built a winning brand of basketball and have become one of the premier organizations in the NBA. They’ve got good players and they obviously have a great point guard in Deron Williams.

With that being said, I’ve got a great job at the University of Kentucky and I have no interest in any other job. I LOVE my job.