How To Coach Talented Players - Tips From Nike Elite Coach

Check out what could possibly be the high school dunk of the year in 2014 by Michael Porter Jr. of Tolton High School in Columbia, Missouri. Porter Jr. is the #1 small forward recruit in the class of 2017. The dunk was also #1 on ESPN's top 10.

While Michael Porter Jr. is certainly one of the best dunkers in his class, what many will miss is that he is one of the best shooters / scorers in the country. He is also a high character kid who is humble and works extremely hard at the game.

How do I know this? I know Michael's club coach and I saw Michael play this summer.

Mike's coach was Breakthrough Basketball's Jim Huber.

Jim Huber is also Camp Director and Director of Coach Development for Breakthrough Basketball Camps. He is also featured in the Man to Man Defense DVD set.

We caught up with Jim and asked him what it was like to coach Michael and how he handled some of the challenges of coaching an extremely talented high school player.

While Michael has A LOT of work to do accomplish his dream of playing in the NBA, we also talk about some things that other players can emulate that has helped Michael excel at an early age.

How to Coach Talented Players

Joe Haefner: Jim, how do you handle coaching a player with the talent level of a person like Michael Porter Jr. this summer? What are some tips you can give to coaches who coach an extremely talented player? Maybe not on the same level as Michael, but depending on the situation, it could be a future college player.

Jim Huber: What most people don't know about Mike is that dunking is NOT his best basketball quality. Even though Mike is a great athlete, he is the best pure shooter and scorer that I have ever coached.

Due to Mike's ability to score and shoot the basketball, he can take shots that are considered bad shots and still make a high percentage. I've seen Mike make twisting 24 footers with two players in his face.

However, I also realized that there would be a point in Mike's career where these shots would be considered bad shots. And if I didn't discipline him and develop better habits, I would be doing Mike a disservice.

So I had to sacrifice a win or two in the short-term to better Mike's playing career over the long run. I had to sit him when he forced some bad shots. I had to get on him if I didn't think he was defending with the intensity and effort that I thought was necessary to be successful.

Now you also have to be careful not to handcuff the kid because you don't want to take away what makes a player great. Because a kid like Mike has put in a lot of work to make shots that normal players can't make. There is definitely a process in feeling out what a good shoot is and what is not because it's not the same as a normal player.

There have been too many talented players that were coddled and enabled to get away with things that not only caused their basketball career to end abruptly... it also made their life a lot tougher down the road.

Many have seen Lenny Cooke... the guy who was "just as good" as LeBron James in high school and how being enabled to make poor decisions affected him tremendously as a young adult and eventually led to the demise of his basketball career.

I was also very fortunate where I only had to worry about the basketball side of life because Michael has a great support system with his family and people around him. He is a straight A student and is extremely grounded. His dad Mike Sr. who is an assistant women's coach at the University of Missouri also wanted me to coach him.. wanted me to get after him. So it was a pleasure to coach him and get to know his family.

Tips to Help Players Elevate Their Skills and Earn More Playing Time

Joe Haefner: Jim, you have coached a lot of high level players. Players that have gone on to Duke, Michigan State, and Kentucky... just to name a few. You have even coached NBA lottery draft picks. I was looking at next year's draft board and it looks like you have coached at least 8 future draft picks in next year's draft.

What are some common qualities you see in these high level players? Traits that can be emulated to help any player maximize their potential?

Jim Huber: Obviously, they're talented but that's not the reason they succeed. There are thousands of talented kids. What separates the great players from the good players are a few things.

All of the best players have been extremely coachable. These kids do what the coach asks of them. If you need them to stop the opposing team's best player, distribute the basketball, make hustle plays, rebound the ball, or score the basketball, they will do it.

They will do what is necessary to succeed even if that means scoring ZERO points. They are ego-less basketball players. They don't care about stats.

Another is their attitude. They don't pout. They don't blame. When you critique them and offer insight, they respond with enthusiasm. They look at it as a way to improve.

Effort is another one. They are wired to give 100% at all times. Whether you are blowing the whistle to start practice, transitioning between drills, or calling a time out during games, these players sprint to areas and give 100%... all of the time. Like all of the great players, they don't care about looking cool.

Along with effort, they are internally motivated. You don't have to tell them to go to the gym to get better. They are already in the gym.

Honest with themselves. They don't try to play outside their strengths. Don't get me wrong... they will work on things to improve weaknesses.

But if they're not a great perimeter shooting, they won't be jacking up 3-pointers.

If they're not a great ball handler, they're not trying to cross up their defender.

If they're not a leaper, they're not flying through the lane trying to dunk on people.

Joe Haefner: Anything else?

Jim Huber: You know me, Joe. I could talk for days, but that's probably good for now.

Joe Haefner: Thanks for your time, Jim. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Jim Huber: Thanks, Joe. See you soon.

Breakthrough Basketball Camps

To learn how to develop the skills and traits to become a college player, you can find Breakthrough Camps with Jim Huber throughout the country.

Jim has also trained the coaches and developed the curriculum for the Breakthrough Camps that include...

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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