Build genuine relationships with people involved within the program
Get to know donors, administration, teachers etc. on a personal basis. Be genuine. Love them, care for them and show you want to get to know them for who they are not how much money they have or what they can do for you. To receive, you must be willing to give without restrictions or wanting something in return. The beauty of giving: you get to experience how much these people genuinely want to help you reach your dreams and goals.
The things you remember the most are the memories and relationships built
Yes, the wins and runs in the post season will be memorable. However, the dinners, bus rides, conversations in the locker room, training table, pregame meals, shoot arounds, in the hotels on the road with your roommate and much more will be the things you will talk about for years on end. Almost always when I talk to a teammate we bring up some memory that happened in one of those categories. Almost never is it about the games we played who we beat (unless it’s the final four run which tends to come up a lot ;)) those Memories will last a lifetime. Cherish them and the people with them.
Communication is the hardest thing you will learn
Every single situation you will be a part of, communication will be the forefront. I literally can’t stress enough how communication or the lack thereof is such a positive or detrimental part of life. Do it as much as you can even when you don’t want to.
Your coaches will have a HUGE impact on your life and who you become (especially assistants).
This is one I believe is very true to my story and those around me. I was blessed to have the coaches I did and the more time I have spent in coaching the more I love and appreciate the relationships I have with my former coaches. I am so happy I still am in contact with everyone. Plenty of which I talk to almost daily. They will help you grow in more ways than you think and will set you up for the ‘real world.’ They will be as close to being your parents in college. Understand they have your best intentions in mind and keep them in your corner.
Listen more than you speak
Especially when you’re the new kid on the block. Being a freshman is hard. You’re juggling school and adjusting to the speed of the game and lifting a dumbbell in a way you probably never have before. Listening will help you speak later once you gain more knowledge. This will not only benefit you in your sport but will benefit you for the rest of your life. Something I do my best to be aware of and strive to work on every day.
You are always getting evaluated
Two things that were said to me that has always stuck with me is, “Every conversation you have with someone is a job interview” and “You never get a first impression twice.” People are always watching you. How you treat the fan that wants a picture with you. How you treat your parents in public. How well you speak in public. Have that in the back of your mind always.
If you can study abroad… STUDY ABROAD
One of the best things that ever happened to me during my time in college was being able to study abroad in China. Experiencing and studying another culture is life changing while hopefully being around kids that are not student athletes. I not only got to enrich in another amazing culture but I got the chance to do it with those who did not walk in the same shoes I did every day. Being around non-student athletes and building those relationships will be one of the top highlights of my time in college. Study abroad if you can. You won’t regret it.
When you graduate you will still have the itch to play… That’s OK
Whether you want to keep playing or not, that competitiveness will always be there. You will miss playing for a while especially if you stay in the game (coaching, broadcasting etc.) I missed playing so much my first year at Drake. Every day I kept thinking about it and sometimes wishing I took the opportunity to go overseas especially with the year I had coaching. The itch was an enemy for a while until I went to play in Japan which helped tremendously. Just understand it’s normal to miss something that you lived and breathed for a long time that suddenly just stops.
If you have the opportunity to play overseas… PLAY OVERSEAS
Being able to play overseas and see the world is something that shouldn’t be passed up. Obviously, your health is important so if your body can’t do it that’s ok. However, if you can go play professionally, GO PLAY. You do not want to have the regret and always ask “what if.” I had to the opportunity to play in Japan and couldn’t be more grateful for the experience.
There will be a time you hang up your shoes.
Playing in college. Playing professionally. All that’s great and rewarding while doing it as long as you can. The reality is you won’t play basketball forever. Don’t take it for granted. Enjoy every minute of it. Be grateful for the opportunity and live in the moment. Make sure you do have an idea of what you might want to do once you stop lacing those shoes up.