Tuesday, May 20, 2014

True to the Game - Prolific Performance Basketball Exclusive Interview: Coach Francis USA National Select

Prolific Performance:  How do manage to work so well with not only kids but the most elite kids in the country?

Coach Francis:  You have to be true to yourself as a leader. That’s what resonates with the young players that my staff and I work with.  My biggest “secret” is that I use nonauthoritarian methods to empower – asking them what plays they want to run; who they want to get the shot for.  

Prolific Performance:  Speaking of Leadership – where is your leadership derived from?

Coach Francis:  You have to speak what you believe. You have to speak from experience — intellectual, visceral and intuitive. As a coach, I know how to unify young men and it must be done quickly as I often only have these groups for 48 to 72 hours. At the basketball grassroots level a community can develope into a team that works together for the greater good; representing all 50 states gives us the chance to bring together the country behind our most valuable resource; our kids.  Often it’s not the most physically talented teams that win — it’s the team that can best use its talents that wins; ultimately that’s my job as a leader.

Prolific Performance:  What do players who are true stars need from their coach?

Coach Francis: One of the nation’s top players said to me "Nobody has tried to motivate me, they just play me." But, he said, "You and your staff try to motivate us every day, and that's makes the game fun again." Leadership is not just letting stars produce, but its being a friend of the star, to motivate the star. Our teams go a lot further when the stars are pushed after while they begin to push each other. At the end of the day I am a big kid just like them in the game for the love of the game.

Prolific Performance:  Players on top-ranked basketball teams are composed of high-level stars, people who are used to having the planets rotate around them. How do you deal with this?

Coach Francis:  I want to first see that the kid is coachable and will listen, that he shows respect to his parents and others he deals with especially his teammates, and that he is willing to learn...It is true that your best player can lead you to the championship, but your most talented player can also lead you to the defeat as well. Because the best players are going to have a lot of influence, you want to make sure he comes in and has a quality relationship with the staff and the other kids.

Prolific Performance:  What is the premise of the National Select team?

Coach Francis:  Simply put, the goal is to put the best players in the country on the court together.  The elite players share a special fraternity; a special understanding – they are used to carrying their respective teams.  By placing them together they get to feel the support of having players just as good and some cases better around them.  These players are used to making the other players around them better, when they have a chance to be made better by THEIR teammates you have some very special moments and games in that scenario.  In the old days this is how games were played, you put the best players together no matter where they are from and you competed; but with the shoe companies and aau clubs trying to control player movement nowadays, this is the only opportunity for players prior to their senior year all-star games to meet, play, and develop relationships and in the end that is what this game and life is about.

 Prolific Performance:  You recently parted way with Middle School Elite as the sponsor for the National team – what’s next for National Select?

Coach Francis: Business as usual, everything stays the same except the name on the chest; which will now read USA National Select, and operate independently which will allow for us and the kids to forge relationships with many outlets – event sponsor will be sought for specific events and will increase the visibility of the kids and the brand. It was truly disappointing to part was with MSE; but those who have intimate knowledge of this middle school industry know and understand that there have been challenges with the leadership at the top with that particular group for sometime.  Working so closely with peoples children, I couldn’t professionally engage in some of the stuff that has gone on with social media ect. – I wish them the very best and it’s my hope that its a mutual respect, at this point I must remain taking the high road no matter what is said, I owe the players and the parents that much as a role model.  MSE is still more than welcome to the media and if they are true to the game I truly believe they will continue to promote these kids as they are the tops in the country without question.

Prolific Performance:  Will you be doing camps so that you can still see kids nationally?

Coach Francis:  I am working with an unnamed group right now and will be announcing camp dates with a major group really soon.  We will be moving around the country regionally and will hold a major national camp as well.  I am tremendously confident that what is being put together will be one of the top event series in all of middle school basketball. It will allow for players to be added to the National Team as well as allowing me to work with folks like you here at P2 to provide top notch exposure.

Prolific Performance:  Sounds exciting and you haven’t let the nation down yet – where do we find you moving forward?

Coach Francis: Again most everything is the same!  Email is nationalteam@msenationalselect.com phone is 1.800.338.4629 – the website for Coach Francis’ USA National Select can be found via the trail on the aforementioned email or you can go to www.middleschoolelite.net ; its my hope that everyone visits that page to see the growth of the program and talent we have been privileged to work with, which can be found on the alumni page.  Finally I am on twitter and Instagram @coachfrancisusa 

Prolific Performance:  Any last words for the kids out there?

Coach Francis:  I happy and I am doing well, the team and coaching staff here with National Select is anxious to work with our current group of players and the new ones on our committed list and in our pipeline.  I am so thankful for the support, the tweets, the emails, and Instagram messages from all the players and parents – it’s very humbling and I am thankful for each one of them.

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