December 20, 2009

Q & A with Coach Jon Wyers

Kevin McCarthy

Appropriate or not, many think Jon Wyers’ middle name is basketball. Some even say the term ‘Basketball Jones’ should be replaced with ‘Basketball Wyers’ because he is somehow capable of appearing anywhere and everywhere seemingly simultaneously. He coaches at the high school level, is a Sports Information Technician at Ventura College and writes prolifically at the DraftExpress site and elsewhere.

We recently posed some questions to Coach Wyers -- here they are, along with his responses:

photo of Jon Wyers Jon Wyers

CaliforniaPreps - How and why did you enter the profession of basketball coaching?

JW - I grew up loving to watch and play basketball so I always knew I wanted to be involved in basketball in some capacity as an adult. When I was in high school, I thought about becoming a sports agent or sports journalist, but decided to get into coaching instead. I wasn’t the best of player after high school so I got on as a team manager and started to look at the game from a coaching perspective. As the manager, I did stats on the bench during games and attended all practices. I started as a manager at Hancock Junior College when I was attending school there and then got my first coaching job while attending San Diego State at San Diego Mesa Junior College. From there, I have worked as the Head JV Girl’s Coach at Steele Canyon High School, assistant coach Hancock College and Ventura College, and now I am the Head Varsity Boy’s Coach at Villanova Prep High School. In addition to that I have ran and worked many camps in the summer time to create a good base of contacts.

CP - The term ‘Basketball IQ’ seems to be this mysterious subject. What is your definition of it? Is it something instinctive or is it something that can be acquired, or a combination?

JW - I think basketball IQ is just knowing how to play the game which to me means: reading the defense and cutting to the right spot, knowing what type of cut to use coming off the screen, knowing what type of move to make with the ball in your hands by reading how your defender is playing you, playing within your limitations so you get the most out of your game, defensively rotating to the right spot and anticipation. Basically being able to do all the little things coaches always rag on players to do without having to be told. I definitely think it is instinctive, but it can also be taught by being drilled into your head by a coach.

CP - We’ve often wondered what a college recruiter looks for in a prospect. We’ve heard two things stressed:

1) what is the #1 skill this prospect possesses and how well does he do it?

2) Does his game and #1 skill relate to our needs in our system and how we play?

What else can be added to this?

JW - Those are both great attributes. I think other things to look for are: is he coachable, does he have the physical tools to succeed and translate his skills to your level, is he still raw with potential or is he a finished product, was he well coached in high school, is he a hard worker/gym rat or is he talented/lazy, will he struggle at your school academically and always be an issue to stay eligible, is he a knucklehead off the court, will he fit in with your players on and off the court or will he create bad team chemistry, and what is his character/family life like.

CP - If you had a son, say in the seventh grade, who looked liked he will grow to 6-foot or 6-foot-1 and he expressed a desire to play basketball and become the best point guard he could, what would you do to facilitate this?

JW - I would have him attend PG specific camps, attend other basketball camps that actually teach and are not babysitting kids, work with him individually (ball handling, passing ability, shooting (spot up and creating own shot), conditioning, ability to read situations, creating space, plyometrics to improve agility and quickness, leadership, watch games with him and film and have him study PG’s, etc.

CP - Recruiting, like drafting in the pros, sometimes is a tug of war of choosing between tools (potential) versus skills (production). You sometimes get your blue chip/high first round flops and your unranked/4th rounder successes. Are there any common denominators you see among the ‘negative’ surprises? Are there any common denominators you see among the ‘positive’ surprises?

JW - The negative surprises are usually the kids who show potential, but are lazy and don’t have a good work ethic so they don’t ever realize that potential. They also can tend to be of poor character and have off the court distractions/hobbies that keep them from reaching their potential. They usually rely on their athleticism and physical gifts and never work on the actual skill part of the game as they move up levels. The positive surprises are usually your gym rat blue collar type workers. They may not have the physical tools that coaches drool over, but they are always in the gym constantly working on their game (usually requesting individual workouts with coaches) and they usually are very cerebral and know how to play the game.

CP - Who are the unsung southern California high school players you have witnessed who deserve greater attention of college coaches? Are there any junior college guys in the same category that you can highlight?

JW - Being busy coaching this year and as the Assistant Athletic Director of my school, other than who we have played or I have scouted I haven’t seen many games. The two that come to mind are Ivan Matip and Francois Tchoyi of Besant Hill High School. At the junior college level (I have a ton of 4 year coaches that call me on weekly basis to talk about JC guys), guys I like that aren’t getting much buzz that I know of are (sophomores only because I don’t know who the qualifiers to leave after one year are):

Most of these JC guys aren’t D-1 prospects although some are, but would be great additions to any D2, NAIA, or D3 team.

CP - Thank you, Coach Wyers, for your time and participation.

We will check back with Coach Myers later in the season.