The journey of a AAU Coach: Kenneth 'Chiz' Chisholm: Chiz is not a good coach, he's an excellent coach! To watch him work the sidelines is to watch a master at work. He coaches in a calculated and methodical manner, with a plan of action and the goal of teaching his players to play the game the right way. His teams play hard, smart and disciplined. And, year after year, they win.
Below is Part One of MooreNews.net's interview with the legendary Kenneth'Chiz' Chisholm. He will touch on a variety of topics, including his definition of being a winning AAU coach. You see, to 'Chiz', it’s not just about winning on the court, it's about preparing his players to be winners off the court. Many AAU coaches talk the talk; Chiz is backing it up with results.
Moore News: What prompted you to become an AAU coach?
Chisholm: Actually, I had no intention of coaching. I was helping one of my guys out who was a head coach. I was helping with practice. After looking around, I saw I had something to offer. I just jumped in and I’ve been in ever since.
MooreNews: When did you start coaching and where?
Chisholm: I started coaching in summer league ball at a high school in Suffolk, Virginia. Like I said before, one of my guys was coaching a high school team. But, the high school coaches can’t coach in the summer leagues, so I took over for him coaching in a high school summer league. I also wound up being the head coach for one of the Boo Williams teams.
MooreNews: What year was that?
Chisholm: That was in 2006. And from that first team we have two guys who are in the NBA right now…Mike Scott and Kent Bazemore. Those two players are on the Atlanta Hawks roster.
MooreNews: Both of them actually played on the same team. That’s interesting.
Chisholm: Yeah. They played on the same AAU team and now they’re on the same NBA team.
MooreNews: What’s your feeling about coaching with the legendary Boo Williams program?
Chisholm: Coaching with Boo Williams has been a great inspiration for me because Boo Williams name is so highly regarded in the game of basketball. It’s great just to be in his organization and to learn the Xs and Os that’s he’s seen over the years. There are over 40 players that he’s put in the NBA. It’s been a good ride for me.
MooreNews: What age group do you coach?
Chisholm: At the present time, I’m the head coach of the 16 and under travelling team.
Moorenews: What do you find to be the biggest difference between coaching today’s youth compared to when you began in 2006?
Chisholm: I don’t see too much difference between the kids in 2006 and the kids now. As a group, they’re basically the same. There’s nothing real different from that era to this.
MooreNews: You don’t see a difference in terms of work ethic or approach to games or readiness for games?
Chisholm: I see more of a difference between age groups than I see a difference between eras. Many sixteen year olds, whether it be in 2006 or in 2015, don’t see how high this level of basketball is and how far basketball can take them. Most of them are not going to make it to the pros, although we’ve had a number of our players make it. But, playing with our program can prepare them for college and, maybe, help them earn a scholarship. At the very least, they get a chance to travel and meet people they might not ordinarily meet. Kids at this age often can’t see the opportunities being provided for them. They have so many other things going on it can be hard to get them to focus on getting the most from this experience. As they age, this becomes less of a problem. But, there are some kids who are more mature who take it and run.
MooreNews: What are the ultimate goals for the kids that you coach?
Chisholm: Our motto is “Championships with Scholarships”. My ultimate goal is for all of our players to win scholarships. We have a 95% scholarship rate for our program. We run our travelling program with the expectation that our guys are going to get a Division 1 scholarship. Some guys slide down to a Division 2, but that’s still pretty good.
We do all this, so the kids can get a chance to further their education. The percentage of kids that go pro is so small, so we feature education and the academics first. We tell our kids,” If you’re gifted and talented enough that you’re one of those guys that can go to the next level, that’s great, but don’t let that be your sole focus.”
Moorenews: What rules do you have in place for a player who is very talented and heavily relied upon by your team, but performs poorly academically?
Chisholm: He has to hand us his report card to play for us. If he can’t get it done in the classroom, there’s no point in wasting his time or my time. He needs to get into his books and study. It’s a privilege to be able to play this game. It’s not something you should take for granted or take lightly. If you can’t get your books right, then I’m probably not the coach for you.
MooreNews: Your standards are applied consistently to every player no matter how talented or important he is to your team?
Chisholm: Yeah. We left our center home, our best player, a player we needed, when we played in the Peach Jam Tournament one year. We left him home because he couldn’t get his grades together. We had to play with all guards. If we had him, we probably could have beat Chris McCullough’s team. They were the number 1 seed and we lost by one on the last possession. We could have won it with this kid, but it’s not that important to win a game. It’s not more important than teaching this kid a lesson. The guys had to lose a game to try to teach him a lesson, a life lesson. He still may not get it, but, at least, I did my part.
MooreNews: Great, great, great answer. I’m proud of your program and you for handling it that way.
How do you deal with overbearing parents who try to dictate playing time?
Chisholm: I got one rule for that which I discuss with parents at the beginning of the year: “You decide if and I decide when.” If you can’t deal with that you can go home. Our success rate speaks for itself. But, as long as I’m the head coach of this team that’s the way it’s going to go.
MooreNews: That’s great. So, you establish that early on?
Chisholm: Yeah, I establish that early. So, when the word gets around, parents don’t come at me like that.
MooreNews: That’s good, that’s good. I commend you for that approach.
Moorenews: Do you attempt to counsel parents who have an inflated sense of their child’s skill level and unrealistic expectations?
Chisholm: I’ll tell parents fundamental stuff. Stuff I think they need to know, like, your son’s playing like a two guard (shooting guard), but if he’s going to go to the next level he needs to learn how to play like a one (point guard). I can give them my opinion based on what I know about the game. But, at the end of the day they have to make that decision. They have to know that somebody else other than them has to like your kid.
MooreNews: Since it’s widely known that you have high school coaches on your staff, do you find that there’s a difference between high school and AAU coaching?
Chisholm: I think that high school coaches have more time with their kids and they get more practice time with them. Because we have a travelling team and kids live all over the place, we don’t get to practice as much as we would like, to be able to develop their skills more. The high school coaches have an advantage over us because they’re with the kids a lot more. That gives them an advantage, but we try to do the best we can with the time that we’re allotted. But, to their credit, they’re working with kids that are not all at a high level. Basically, the kids I’m coaching are all supposed to be at a Division 1 level.
MooreNews: I’ve heard high school coaches bash AAU coaches and AAU coaches bash high school coaches. Do you see any of their gripes being valid or is it just unnecessary bashing?
Chisholm: High school coaches mean well, but they don’t understand how the game evolved. The high school coaches had all of the power with the kids. But, AAU can now provide more exposure for the players. The kids listen a lot more to the AAU coaches. That can lead to a power struggle for control. But, there really shouldn’t be a struggle. Everybody should be able to co-exist. I go to the high school games to support the kids, but I don’t even talk to them until the spring and it’s time to get ready for the summer.
Some high school coaches have a problem with AAU coaches because they think they’re trying to control a kid or send him to another school. But, I don’t run into that much because I’m not trying to move up to become a college coach. If you’re doing what’s right for the kid, where’s the conflict at? It’s nobody’s kid except for the parents’.
MooreNews: The Boo Williams’ program has been in existence for many years and it’s widely known that many pros have passed through his program. Do any of the players that passed through the program stand out as good role models or have they come back to help the program or mentor kids?
Chisholm: There are two that stand out. A lot of them come back and support the program. There are too many to name. But, two that really stand out and have put their stamp on the program are retired NBA star Alonzo Mourning and Chris Wright who is currently playing overseas.
MooreNews: Chris Wright out of Maryland?
Chisholm: Yeah. He stands out to me as a role model as a kid because he was somebody that was ahead of his time and more mature than everyone around him. Alonzo comes back steady as a philanthropist and funds programs. Chris Wright stands out, too. He was a good role model, even as he was going through the program, and after he turned pro. Scottie Reynolds, who has played overseas, is another one that stands out as a good role model.
MooreNews: You had Alan Iverson and Ed Davis in the program. Who else?
Chisholm: JJ Redick (L.A. Clippers), Jarret Jack (Brooklyn Nets), Justin Anderson (drafted by the Dallas Mavericks) and Mike McAdoo (Golden State Warriors) to name a few.
MooreNews: I don’t know too many programs that can match that.
Chisholm: We had back to back #1 picks in 1995 and 1996 with Joe Smith and Allen Iverson.
MooreNews: They played on the same AAU team?
Chisholm: That’s right! They did!
MooreNews: Wow! Who else was on that team?
Chisholm: Tony Rutland who played at Wake Forest. Tarique Turner from St. Johns played on that team.
MooreNews: In the AAU coaches circle you’re known as a top tier coach whose teams win at least 90% of its games. What’s the secret?
Chisholm: I have been blessed to have a lot of talent. My assistants and I know how to spot and manage talent. But, most of the credit goes to the kids. They have to play in the games and play under pressure.
MooreNews: This has been very informative. And, this is just Part 1. I look forward to our second interview after Peach Jam.But, before we go, tell me a little about Peace Jam. You made it again. This is uncanny. Your team makes it every year. What are your expectations for this year?
Chisholm: It’s a tough tournament. Last year we were the last seed and we ended up beating the #1 seed going into the playoffs. We made it to the quarter final, which was pretty good, but we left something on the table. Now this year I think we’re going to be a team to be reckoned with. Based on the point system, out of the sixteen teams with the most points, we were fifth or sixth. In the Nike Tournament we beat a lot of good teams. We’ve had some quality wins.
MooreNews: That’s very good. That’s exceptional. Peach Jams is a hard tournament to qualify for and even harder to do well in. I commend you for making it year after year. I look forward to the second part of this interview.
Chisholm: I appreciate any time I get a chance to talk about these kids, the program and what it does for kids. I’ll have that conversation anytime and I look forward to talking to you again.
MooreNews: Thank you
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Date Posted: Thursday, July 9th, 2015 , Total Page Views: 3126
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