A “Social” Experiment: Commentary on Today’s Game

This past weekend, the Hoop Group did a “social” experiment to get a read for how players are working on their games. We took a poll and asked players to retweet if they worked on a certain aspect of their game that day. Here were the results:



The results were painfully obvious. Only 12 retweets for players working on their passing and defense. 23 players retweeted that they worked on the ball handling skills. Last but not least, a whopping 45 players retweeted that they worked on their shot.

Just about any coach in America will tell you that they want to see better basketball being played these days. The results from this poll show that players do not work on their overall game enough. Last night at the Hoop Group’s Elite Session I, Tim Legler described guys that can only score as “a dime a dozen”. As a player, you do not want to be known as “replaceable”. Whether it is a high school coach or a future college coach, the players that will be played are the ones that put them in the best position to win games.

In general, the teams that win games are the ones that shoot the ball the best(shooting), turn the ball over the least(ball handling and passing), and make life miserable for opposing offenses(defense).

So here’s some advice for players: be the best all-around player you can be. Shoot when you have a good shot to take. Take care of the ball. Work on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately, July is mostly about playing games. But when you get the chance to go the the gym in August, do more than just get a few shots up.

Tim Legler Speaks To The Campers At Hoop Group Elite Session I

Hoop Group Elite Session I campers were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to listen to guest speaker Tim Legler yesterday. Legler currently works as a basketball analyst at ESPN but before that was an NBA player. But he is more than that; Legler is a veteran in the basketball world on all fronts. He gave some great advice to campers about everything from how they play the game to how they should treat others. Here are some tweets and clips to show what the speech was all about:








HG Debate: “Dream Team” Or 2012 Olympic Team?

Dream Team vs. 2012 Olympic Team

“Dream Team or 2012?”

With the 2012 Olympic Games set to begin, players at Elite III were asked to weigh in on which U.S. Olympic basketball squad they thought was better–the 1992 “Dream Team” with a roster featuring Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird or this year’s team, comprised of superstars like Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Carmelo Anthony.

Check out what they had to say:

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Follow Lucas Shapiro on Twitter: @lucashapiro

Taylor Statham Beat Cancer, Now He’s Playing College Ball at Cal State San Bernardino

Taylor Statham walked into high school as a 5’9, 130 pound shooting guard with no idea what kind of road his basketball career would take. At his size and with the skills of a wing player, the odds were not in his favor to become a college basketball player. But he had always dreamed of playing basketball at the highest level he possibly could.

Things looked good for Statham after he had an Anthony Davis-esque growth spurt in high school. He shot up to 6’6″ by the time he was a senior, but did not get much of a chance to show off his game.

He had to sit out a majority of his junior year at Golden Valley High School in Santa Marita, Calif., due to transfer rules, and could only play during the playoffs. During his senior year, however, Taylor helped lead the Golden Valley Grizzlies to a 24-6 record while averaging 16 points and seven rebounds per game.

Statham and his family decided after not having been able to play much high school basketball, he would take a post-graduate year at Westwind Prep (Ariz.). Westwind featured many college-bound players, including current Providence guard Kiwi Gardner.

During the fall of his postgraduate year, Taylor worked hard to add to his skinny frame. He put on 25 pounds and, at 6’6″ and 210 pounds, he had reached the perfect size for a shooting guard and he even began to garner the interest of some local college coaches.

And then, something strange happened.

During a pre-season scrimmage, Statham was kneed in the groin while taking a charge. He expected the pain to go away after a few minutes, but the pain remained for weeks.

Statham, always known for his toughness, played on. When his parents came to visit him one weekend in November, his mother decided it would be best for him to visit a doctor. That is when Statham discovered that he had testicular cancer. His doctor told him that he would need surgery but would be able to avoid chemotherapy. Despite his worries, he continued to play.

Statham standing Tall; After beating cancer, the California native now moves on to play college basketball at Cal State San Bernardino.

“After I found out I had cancer, there was a big tournament we were playing in with a lot of scouts,” said Statham. “I had to play in it because I knew it was important for our team and for my recruitment.”

Statham played and his team went 4-0. He continued to play in December but when he went home for the holidays, his doctor revised his diagnosis and told him that he would need chemotherapy after all. The next few months would be that hardest three months of Taylor’s life, as the chemotherapy took a heavy toll on him.

“At one point I never thought I’d play basketball again,” said Statham. “There was a point when I was really depressed and it was hard to see my friends out living their lives while I was sitting in a chair all day having my insides being destroyed.

“The frustrating thing is that I would do the chemo for six to eight hours and then I would go home and feel terrible. My family was great though. Through the whole entire thing my mom was holding my hand and my dad would bring me food. They really kept my spirits up. They helped me to keep pushing myself.”

Throughout his treatment, Statham would watch as many basketball games and mixtapes as he could get his hands on. This helped keep his mind on the end goal of playing basketball at the highest level possible.

“I thought to myself, ‘I have to play basketball again,'” he said. “I want to go to college. I want to make something of my life.”

With a steadfast determination, he willed his way to recovery. It was not easy but once he recovered, he was eager to return to the basketball court and was back before the season ended.

“The kid is probably the mentally toughest kid I’ve coached and I have been coaching for twenty years,” said former Westwind coach Scott Lovely. “He came back right after having cancer and did not even want to get taken out of the games. He has a motor that just never stops.”

Taylor ended up earning his college scholarship. He went on to play at California Baptist University on a full scholarship (unfortunately, things did not work out well at CBU, but Taylor now is on a full ride to Cal State San Bernardino).

Statham will now pursue a degree in business while playing basketball, which was his ultimate dream. It required hard work, perseverance, and determination, but it all paid off in the end. Now Taylor talks at cancer events whenever he gets the chance and mentors young basketball players in his community.

“I always tell kids that tough times don’t last but tough people do,” he said. “Don’t ever stop dreaming. Your dream is only going to go as far as you take it.”

Sure enough, he achieved his dream and cancer could not even stop him.

Boston Spartans Prove Themselves at Hoop Group Jam Fest in Providence


Two Boston teams and one big rivalry showed out at the Hoop Group Jam Fest in Providence this afternoon. The 16U Expressions and Boston Spartans battled to the last second in an overtime game where the Spartans came out on top in overtime. It was a grind-it-out type of game with a lot of lead changes.

At the half, Expressions led 29-21 but the Spartans stormed back right away after the half. After taking a big lead, however, they got a little too comfortable.

Nick Simpson and Markus Neale led the way with 20 and 12 respectively. Both nailed shot after shot at all of the right times. Despite late game heroics from Expressions guard E.J Rodgers, the Spartans held onto the lead that they nearly lost at the end.

Coach Joe Chatman felt that his team could have done better with keeping the lead, despite the winning in the end. Chatman said, “When we went up 18, we lost our composure. It is a rivalry and things got chippy. I expect it to be though. At a big event like this, you need to keep your composure if you want to stay on top.”


Nick Simpson dropped an impressive 20 points at the Hoop Group Jam Fest (Lucas Shapiro)

Despite some technical fouls here and there, there’s no doubt that Chatman was proud of his guys.

Chatman said, “All of my kids are under the radar. I’m missing, in my opinion of course, the best sophomore center in New England in Jacquil Taylor. My point guard Mike Rodriguez is at Redemption Christian Academy in New York right now. These guys just fight though. They don’t come from the prestigious prep schools. Nowadays if you don’t go to prep school, you aren’t considered as good players. I’ve got guys that could play at the scholarship level.”

It was a team effort, but there’s no doubt that a bunch of the guys on this team could be playing college basketball a few years from now.

Scouting Report

Neither Simpson nor Neale have any sort of college interest, yet they are both only sophomores. Coach Chatman gave us the scouting report on both.

On Simpson:

“Nick Simpson is an animal. In my opinion, he’s the best forward in Boston Public schools. He rebounds the ball, shoots the ball, and he defends like it’s his job too.”

On Neale:

“Markus gets to the rim when he wants. He can shoot the ball from deep. The thing people don’t notice about Markus is that he has a high basketball I.Q. When he gets rolling like he was today, he’s hard to guard.”