Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Want to Be FREE!

Orlando, Florida is the site of the Super Showcase and the AAU Nationals, but also a softball championship, the MEAC officials’ camp, the IBO officials’ camp and the training camp site for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL. As you can see there was and there is a lot going on in Orlando. They not only have the Milk House to hold the hoop tournaments but they have a building adjacent to it that has 6 more full courts. That is 12 total full courts between the two buildings right next to each other and every court was occupied everyday all day. The AAU was setting a precedent by not charging coaches for the coaches’ packets that normally come with the AAU events. The cost for a coaches’ packet normally runs anywhere between $125-$275 and the packets on the women’s side running as high as $900. I won’t go off on the women’s side cause that is off the charts, but on our side the Super Showcase and AAU Nationals have been the only events where we didn’t have to pay for a coaches’ packet. Bobby Dodd is the president and he did a good job of stepping out first and giving us the packets but a lot of coaches complained that the information in the packets weren’t correct. Well what would you expect when it’s free! LOL! Naw….I’m just serious! Hey we’ll just get the info from the AAU coach anyway. They did charge us for parking though…which they never did in the past! It was referred to as priority parking…wink, wink! You still had to walk 3 miles to the gyms! Not really, but it seemed like it. Hey, let me stop, because I'm not complaining because I really enjoy the summer recruiting and I really appreciate the Orlando events as well. I predict that Disney Wide World of Sports complex will take over AAU and youth sports in general. They have every sports complex available for every sport, resorts and parks for the whole family. Makes sense huh?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sleeping is Over Rated!

Red light! After a morning of watching some AAU games I went to Valley high school to watch Team USA practice. Team USA is the Olympic team of NBA players trying to recapture the gold medal in basketball for the United States. The practice was cool and it was good to get a chance to see Jason (Kidd) and some of the other players participating on the team. Gary Payton was there taping a segment of the "Best Damn Sports Show" and I got a chance to rap with them. I attended the practice with two buddies, who were in town. Brian Ellerbe, who lives in Vegas now, and Charles "Mookie" Payne, who lives in Oakland, Ca. and I sat and talked with Clem Haskins ( formerly of U of Minn., Western Ky). The one point that I will make about the practice is, that after a three hour practice, Kobe Bryant spent about another hour or so getting up extra shots. The "cat" is relentless and it's no accident that he was the NBA's MVP this past season.

It was my last day in Vegas and I wanted to drop my bags off at the airport at around 4 p.m, so I could just drop my rental car off an go straight to the gate when it was time to catch my flight. (Red light) The airline said I couldn't do that, and that I'd have to do it at least 4 hours before my 11:45 p.m. flight. I dropped my bags off at the airport early...four hours early to be exact (Green Light) and then went to Green Valley high school to watch a game at the adidas tournament. After making a stop by the Nike tournament at UNLV I headed to the airport. As I walked to the gate with Mike Anderson (Missouri Univ., who said he was going to Orlando also), his gate was on the A concourse and my ticket said B concourse , so we assumed that we were on different flights going to the same destination. Well long story short....after walking all the way to the last gate on the B concourse the agent informed me that there was a gate change (Red light). Because I checked my bags in early...I had the original gate on my boarding pass but the flight was now leaving from the A concourse and the same gate as Mike's flight.

Upon arriving at the gate (Green light) it seemed as though all the college coaches that were in Las Vegas were at the Vegas airport to board USAIRWAYS flight 564 to Orlando! A day or two before the Las Vegas tournaments end, the Super Showcase in Orlando, Fl begins and a boat load of college coaches jump on red eye flights to take advantage of being able to see the last games in Vegas and then be able to catch the first games in Orlando. (that was a run on sentence but you get the point....:) ) seemed as though all the flights were delayed going back east. Our flight was now delayed til 12:30 a.m (Red light). It appeared to be a NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) meeting at the gate with Paul Hewitt (Georgia Tech), Gene Cross (Toledo), Bruiser Flint (Drexel), Scott Bollwage (NC A & T), Jay Wright (Villanova),Chuck Driesell (Maryland), Shaheen Holloway (Iona), Mike Rice (Robert Morris), John Thompson III ( Georgetown), Byron Samuels (South Florida) and probably 30 other coaches. A lot of flights were delayed and JT III (John Thompson III) told me that his Pop's (John Thompson) flight was delayed also. The gate was around the corner and I decided to go say hello to Big John and hang out with one of the guys who paved the way for guys like myself to have an opportunity in this business. (Green light)

At around 1:15 a.m they started boarding flight 564. After futile attempts to get someone to give up their seat (Red light) for a free ticket anywhere (how about also throwing in a hotel room), our flight took off sometime around 2 or 2:30 a.m. (Green light) Thank God nothing happened to this flight cause the college basketball world would have been upside down with so many college coaches on board: Bob Huggins (West Virginia), Andy Kennedy ( Ole Miss), John Beilein (Michigan), Syndey Johnson (Princeton) and the list could go on and on. We arrived, hence "Red-Eye", around 8 a.m eastern standard time, collected our luggage, proceeded to our respective car rental locations and reconvened at the disney complex to evaluate to 400 some odd high school players on their AAU teams. Red Light! Green light! Red-Eye!!! Summer recruiting....gotta love it!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hoop Fest! Hoop it Up! Get your Ball on!

I got a basketball jones, I gotta basketball jones! There are over 400 teams here in Las Vegas. Every corner of this country is covered and USA basketball is here as well. Every University in the country is present as well! There is a lot of good basketball, it's just spread out all over the city and extends into Henderson, NV as well. Reebok has a tournament but also has a separate event called a super bracket, where all the top teams in the Reebok family compete for a championship. There are marquee teams from D.C Triple Threat, Worldwide Renegades (Georgia), Franchize (Dallas) that's how they spell it and Belmont Shores (Long Beach), which makes for an exciting tourney! The championship is tonight at 8 p.m. at Foothill high school and I will be in the house.

The other tournaments are in bracket play now. That means they have finished what is called pool play. Pool play is where 4 teams, from different areas, play a round robin (or play each other) and the team with the best record after completing the round robin advances to bracket play. There are seedings like the NCAA tournament and if you lose early in bracket play you go into another bracket or losers bracket. In other words you can keep playing in front of the college coaches and all the recruiting services. Now, if the team loses's sorry charlie, "you don't have to go home....but you got to get the...out of here!"
The format is called double elimination. Man...let me get on the 95 or the 93 or the 515, 215 East/West, North/South. By the way...all of the previous highways are the same. It's confusing but if someone here is giving you directions, they will refer to a highway as the 95 and the sign might abbreviate and say the 93. It's crazy and alittle more detailed than that, but you get the point. It's cool though since I come here every summer. Man, let me get to I'm Jonesing!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Viva Las Vegas! Let the Hoops begin!

All right people...we back at it again! The five day break was cool and I needed the rest but man...I love the recruiting trail. Next stop is Las Vegas and it starts today. We were allowed to use yesterday as a travel day. Most coaches and teams got in last night. The Las Vegas airport was off the hook! Teams every where, college coaches breezing through and that's with the normal crowd of folks looking to hit it big in the casinos. There were three teams on the flight I took. Gary Williams from Maryland, Gee Gee Smith from Loyola and myself were the college coaches on the flight. I hit it big when the airline needed to clear space and bumped me up to first class. It made for a more comfortable flight, that's for sure. Hopefully that's a sign of how the recruiting will go out here! Stop laughing...I'm always looking for positives in everything!

After this July period is over I have a golf outing that I attend every year with some buddies in Myrtle Beach and then I have another session of camp. TBBS II (The Todd Bozeman Basketball School) starts on August 10th at 1 pm. On August 9th from 8am-5pm the Maryland Basketball Club, run by Mel George, is conducting an Elite Grade School Combine at Good Counsel High School in Olney, MD. The combine is in it's third year and is growing in popularity every minute. They actually have check in on the 8th from 3-7 pm and start the full one day of intense work on the 9th 8am-5pm. If you are interested you can visit their web site at I highly recommend it! Every participant receives a pair of New Balance shoes, a reversible jersey and a t-shirt. The free shoes is not the reason I recommend it but that's cool though. The entry fee is around $125 or so and your youngster receives a pair of shoes, 4-6 fundamental stations, three games, awards, an NBA style combine player analysis and an NCAA regulation presentation. Hey, it's first class!

Ok, back to our regularly schedule program...summer recruiting! I've got some games I need to see! Good thing I have a GPS system in my Blackberry!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Time Out! What's Next?

I know...where have you been Boze? It’s Wednesday July 16, 2008 and this is the day we come off the road for recruiting for a couple of days. We return to the trails on July 22nd. We can travel on the 21st, but can’t actually watch games until the 22nd, so I’ll be home filling out my expense report and plotting the next recruiting trips through Las Vegas and Orlando before finishing up on the local scene. Last week we covered West Virginia, Richmond, VA and the Agent Zero tournament held at Hoop Magic in Chantilly, VA. Curtis Simons owns Hoop Magic and is really making his mark in the local basketball scene. The tournament was very good and all the local teams from Baltimore and D.C were in attendance. The Agent Zero tournament and the West Virginia tournament were the last two events before the first recruiting period ended.

Las Vegas will have over 400 teams and three different events and will require the entire staff from every institution in the country if the goal is to cover Vegas and leave no stone unturned. We generally follow the local teams from Baltimore, D.C and Virginia and will come across talent from other areas as well.

Orlando has two events happening back to back. The Super Showcase is the first event and the AAU Nationals are held immediately following the conclusion of the showcase. Both will have their base location as the Milk House at the Wild World of Sports complex at Walt Disney, but will have some games at local high school gyms.

The GPS systems are needed for sure but where is my baggie with all those receipts……

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Double Takes! Haven't I seen you Before!

Hold up......Wait a minute! Those old enough to remember or fill in the blanks when someone shouts out...."Hold up", will understand! LOL! Well, that was my thought as i sat in the stands at Reebok U yesterday. I'm sitting there watching the talented campers compete in games being held on two courts at Philadelphia University and of course, the summer scene is where coaches get to mingle and see each for the first time since the past season or the Final Four. For some coaches, it's the first and only time they will see some of their counterparts and get a chance to network face to face. Now, the camp started on the 6th but college coaches weren't allowed to attend until the evening of the 8th and a lot of the coaches came down from Eastern Invitation in Ewing, NJ. Anyway, I'm sitting there watching these youngsters go at it and coaches from every major school in the country walk by, hand slapping, jousting for position so the campers can see them and making contact with the important AAU coaches etc., who are in attendance and I think..."What am I doing here?". See, the camps are a great way to see an abundance of talent at one location but the real recruiting is done after camp, during phone calls, making the right contacts and finding out who the decision makers are. So, while it's good to have the opportunity to evaluate the talent, being in that setting too long doesn't necessarily make sense for the smaller schools. While the campers walk by and marvel at the coaches from schools they either grew up dreaming about attending or watching on T.V, the smaller less visible schools can only evaluate and gather valuable information to be used at a later date. See, sometimes when you are in that setting it's like being "Ugly Betty", they can't really see you through all the "gorgeous" others around or, so folks won't think crazy about that analogy, think about not being one of the popular kids in school but wanting to date one of the most attractive kids in school. Most of ya'll will relate to one of those analogies. Well I decided to leave and return to the team camp being held at the 2008 Hoop Group Elite Team camp in North Plainfield, NJ. There are 64 high school teams participating in two divisions with each team guaranteed at least three games. The games are spread through out numerous sites so you have a chance to be the only school watching a particular kid. This setting also give coaches a chance to see a campers in their regular high school setting. Camps are tough for some because guards dominate the ball and if you are not aggressively going after ball, you could get lost or not get noticed. Oh....campers and coaches go through the same thing! If you work hard enough, you can get a great prom date because you've found a diamond in the rough! And the "Nerds" and "Ugly Betties" start to look more attractive as you peel back the layers. Get it? LOL!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Brotherly Love for Campers too! See you at Reebok U!

Still in Ewing, New Jersey attending the Eastern Invitational today. This camp ends today with Playoffs and All-Star games. There will be all-star games for each of the three divisions, an underclassmen all-star game, a senior all-star game and a top 20 all-star game. A lot of basketball and a lot of campers leaving camp with a good feeling. I will spend the evening in Philly, watching the Reebok U camp held at Philadelphia University. This camp actually started on the 6th, but college coaches aren't allowed to attend until this evening. Cooperation between Eastern and Reebok worked out well. The campers at Reebok attend classes for SAT prep and other seminars to help enhance the youngsters experience and prepare them for college. The next couple of days the campers play games for the college coaches and scouts rating them for recruiting services. Route 295 and route 1 will be very busy for the next couple of days with colleges traveling back and forth to Reebok and the Eastern Invitational team camp which starts tomorrow. The summer life of a college basketball coach baby!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Let the Games Begin!

The NCAA 2008 summer recruiting period started yesterday! I spent the day in Ewing, New Jersey attending the Eastern Invitational. Most NCAA institutions had coaches here to see the more than 800 high school players participating in the four day camp. That's a lot of campers, huh? It looks it too! The camp is held at New Jersey College, a small division 3 school near Trenton, New Jersey. There are 4 full courts in the Rec center and 8 courts outside on the tennis courts. The campers rotate on and off the courts all day and mix in guest speakers, lunch, dinner and drill sessions. Oh it's a full day for both the campers and the coaches! The coaches start arriving around 10 am everyday to watch the games and the rotation begins. There are 3 divisions, the NCAA division, the NBA East and the NBA West. The better or more highly rated players are generally in the the NBA West division, I think. It's one of those NBA divisions.The NCAA division is made up of rising eighth graders and high school freshmen and sophomores. The better underclassmen play in the NBA East division. All the players wear the jerseys given to them on the first day of camp and there is nothing negative being number 800 or nothing significant being number 1! There is a packet that the coaches buy for $125 and it has each camper's name, jersey number, camp team, home town, high school and high school classification. There is a daily schedule posted and passed out for each of the three sessions. A camper will play three games a day with coaches from all levels surrounding the courts scowling for the next player to elevate their program. The Fun has just begun!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Giving Back! Camp!!

Man….I know I’ve been out of Blog for a minute! I’ve been in the first session of my summer camp. The camp started Sunday 6/29/08 and ended Thursday, 7/03/08. Camp is tough because it’s intense instruction for youngsters of age 5-13 years old from 9-4pm. They are tired at the end of the day and so am I. The camp is held at the Bowie City Gym in Bowie, Maryland and is a great location. My goal, when I initially moved back to Maryland, was to really focus on sharing my experiences and knowledge of the game with as many young people as I could. I also planned to increase the level of fundamental play in the Maryland, D.C and Virginia area. I started running camp while I was the Head Coach at the University of California and continued to run a camp here in the D.C area upon my return to Maryland in 1996. This was part of my plan to give back to the community once I received the 8 year sanction from the NCAA and knew I wouldn’t be allowed to coach college basketball for a while.