You Are Not The Star: In College Basketball, The Coach Has The Power. Respect It
Your college basketball coach was probably there before you arrived, and will probably be there when you leave. As great as you are, or think you are, every college basketball player will be replaced one day. Don’t make it sooner than it should be.
My junior year of college, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t The Man.
I had the attention on campus. The girls. And the game to go with it (at least I thought I did). After killing it during tryouts for the new coach — our previous coach had been fired — I was really feeling myself. I figured I was the most skilled player on campus, I had all the confidence, and knew I was just going to get on the court, “play my game” (i.e., take my pickup game habits, apply them to the team concept and dominate the same way I did in open gym) and make history.
I was wrong on all fronts.
I got kicked off the team 8 games into my junior year and never played another game in college. I managed to turn the circumstances around and make it on the next level, but most players who suffer my fate in college don’t come back from that.
My coach in college didn’t know what he was doing, and there are many people who agreed with me. He didn’t know how to communicate with people, his X and O strategy made no sense, and his entire coaching career lasted only three years. Despite all of that evidence, guess what? When he kicked me out of the gym that day, there was no petition or blog post or logic argument against him that would get me back on the team. He ran the show, and I was merely a cast member.
College athletes get four years at the most to play their sport. The worst college coaches last just under five years on average. I know we all watch the NBA, but college basketball is not the NBA. If you’re playing college basketball, don’t count your money before you make it, as there is a less than 1% chance you’ll ever play professional basketball, anywhere. When colleges hire coaches, they plan on building or continuing their program legacy around the coach. The coach chooses the players. When a player and coach clash in college, the player either a) gets with the program, b) sits the bench, or c) transfers. The coach remains. If you leave the program, there are at least 15 other guys ready and willing to do what you wouldn’t do to be on that team. You are not irreplaceable.
When you’re playing college basketball, follow the leader. The coach is the leader, whether you like it or not. Leave one school and go play for another, and you’ll be following a different leader — no matter where you go, no player leads a college program. The coaches get the paychecks and can take away your scholarship (if you have one) just as easily as they offered it to you. You may not like it, but if you want to show your game off in college, you better respect it.