Reason #2: The Blueprint
BP: What are three goals that the Ill Basketball has in terms of the nurture of students?
JH: The first goal would be for them to not feel judged. I always like to say they’ve officially entered ‘the no-judgment zone.’ Many types of athletes come through our programs, and each feels self-conscious about something. Be it their skill, athleticism, or perhaps their grades, we feel it very important they understand that their “flaws” as a student-athlete will not be held over their head.
This transitions smoothly into the second goal, which is for the student-athlete to understand that when it comes to development on and off the court, it’s them versus the person in the mirror. Improvement happens best when they focus on them later being better than them now. That’s it.
Will the three months from now you be better than you now? When they concern themselves with how much another has improved, where another is currently at, or how much further along another player is, they start to drift too far from their race towards their best self. They must always keep the perspective of defeating the person in the mirror, and everything else falls into place. This creates a culture of self-appreciation, which is often overlooked in youth sports. Not complacency, but the appreciation of oneself.
Speaking of complacency, the third goal in terms of the nurturing of student-athletes would be a standard of constant development. We want them to appreciate what they’re able to do but to constantly look to build upon it. Good at dribbling? Excellent, value and appreciate that, but what does that shot look like? Have a consistent jumper? Beautiful, value and appreciate that, but what happens when they play you tight and make you put the ball on the floor? Have a 2.5 GPA? Value and appreciate that too, but with you and that other recruit, that’s just as good as you, with a 3.0 GPA, who do you think the college coach would pick?
The player that’s barely NCAA eligible, or the player they won’t have to worry about being eligible when the season starts? There are countless examples, but our third goal is, without question, development and improvement on and off the court.
BP: Describe the format of the Scholarship Blueprint (video, quizzes, passages to read, etc.).
JH: The player logs into their account with their username and password, and go through an online learning experience similar to doing an online course at the local college. They watch a video, complete an assessment, and then do a live-action step activity that they print out and complete with our support when needed.
They repeat until the end of the program that is custom according to their current grade, as a 9th grader would have to do things a bit differently than an 11th grader. As an example, there’s a section within the program titled “Your Foundation,” in which they must shake themselves loose from their “DI or Bust Mentality.”
We want them all to go D1, but they mustn’t turn away an opportunity to play that’s outside of the D1 ranks. At any rate, in this section, there’s a video…an assessment for them to complete…and then there’s an action step assignment they print out to complete in which they discover how special it is to play college at ANY level.
Once they complete that section, they move to the next one, which has a similar format. Content video, followed by an online assessment, followed by a printable action step assignment.
BP: Is there any financial assistance programs for those families in need?
JH: Right now, there will not be financial assistance provided for families of aspiring college basketball players; however, there are plans in place to help supplement scholarship monies earned upon completion of The Scholarship Blueprint. For example, after following the program intently, a player may obtain a scholarship that covers 85 percent of their educational experience and we provide assistance to cover the remaining 15 percent.