2018 JBSC - One of the best yet.

The fifth annual Jay Bilas Skills Camp took place in Charlotte, NC from June 8th – June 10th.  Held at the beautiful Levine Center of Queens University, the camp featured almost 120 participants hailing from 23 states - half of the whom reigned from a state outside other than the Carolinas.  There were at least 10 potential Division I players present and a slew of other DII, DIII, and NAIA prospects flanked by former professional, DI, DII, and DIII college coaches.  The overnight experience on a college campus afforded unique bonding time for the participants in college quarters outside of the on court time. 

Jay Bilas and Camp Director John Searby established the camp back in 2014 after observing that the competitive basketball world for high schoolers had devolved into summer club teams and tournaments with a growing dearth of a focus on fundamental skill building.   The inaugural camp in 2014 had 55 participants and the camp has grown in size and intricacies of the curriculum since then.

The first day consisted of offensive breakout sessions and progressions modules with current Queen’s University coach Bart Lundy.  The evening session consisted of the “Heat Drill” in which the players went from playing 2v1 to 5v5 in two person increments capped off by team scrimmages.

The second morning consisted of individual skill teaching and more progressions with Coach Lundy.  In some of the 3v3 work Coach Lundy introduced some unique wrinkles to force players to really focus on the nuances of the drill – including no dribbling and mandating a ball screen before scoring.  The evening sessions closed out with more team scrimmaging. 

The final morning included more progressions teaching with Coach Lundy, sessions on effective entry passes and wing and guard movement off post entries, and some King of the Court and Hotshot competitions. 

Each day commenced with warm ups led by Alan Stein Jr. who spent 15 years working with some of the top basketball players in the world and is now a corporate keynote speaker.  Stein preached the importance of dynamic stretching and the subtleties of what it takes to ensure the athletes’ bodies were fully equipped for a grueling three days of drills, scrimmaging, and learning.  Stein Jr. had perhaps the most memorable quote/wisdom of the camp – “If you are not spending ten minutes a day working on your opposite hand you are fooling yourself” and then proceeded to walk through a few mentally and physically taxing opposite hand drills to help the players activate the right side of their brains.

Program director John Searby not only oversaw the logistics/operations of the camp but consistently introduced twists into the drills to keep the players on their toes and locked in mentally – most notably silent periods in which players had to organize and execute some of the more complex stretches and drills while the coaches remained silent and watched from the sideline.

This year’s camp also included a Coaches Development Program in which current and aspiring high school coaches came to Charlotte to imbibe learnings from the other coaches, players, and speakers.  The CDP also permitted more individualized instruction and support for the players and afforded a 3:1 player: coach ratio.  All coaches in the CDP were able to get USA Basketball certifications through a session led by Don Showalter, the head coach of the 2018 USA Men’s U17 World Cup Team and a nine-time USA Basketball gold medalist. 

A new segment that camp leadership introduced this year was two days of breakout sessions for the parents of the participants.  Parents got to hear from the likes of former Division I coaches John Shulman and Jeff Lebo who imparted wisdom on the recruiting process, college basketball life, and the dos and don’ts of seeking advanced basketball development

Paul Biancardi, the ESPN national recruiting director for boy’s high school basketball, was intimately involved in the camp.  He provided on court feedback in small and large group settings for the players, led sessions for the CDP on talent evaluation and how to recruit, and held sessions for parents of the players about effective additional developmental opportunities for players who are serious about playing at the next level.  Biancardi also led a team of onsite talent evaluators creating evaluation material for all players who attended.

Bilas, a former Duke University and professional basketball player turned ESPN college basketball analyst and one of the best personalities on social media, did not just attach his name to the camp but was actively involved in all three days of the camp and consistently provided positive and constructive feedback at an individual and group level.  The camp culminated with an inspiring message from Bilas – over the summer many of the campers will be traveling for tournaments and camps and that they should make a concerted effort to treat everyone with the same level of respect that they demonstrated this weekend at Queens Universities, from the restaurant hostesses to the hotel maids. 

Camp partners included Under Armour, Queens University, Pro Skills Basketball, and Centerfold Agency.  Under Armour provided backpacks, jerseys, shirts, slippers, and other apparel for players and coaches.  Pro Skills Basketball contributed to the camp marketing efforts and the player evaluations.  Centerfold Agency provided the creative paraphernelia and social media management and content for the Camp.

Said 2019 guard Ryan Clements from Conyers, GA of the camp, “The exposure and teaching from the coaches were incredibly beneficial and the level of competition in the camp was better than last year – it definitely exceeded my expectations.”  Clements played on the Hawks which took home the 5v5 title on Sunday afternoon.   

Pictures and videos from the camp can be found on the camp’s Twitter and Instagram pages.


We are proud to announce that our second location of the Jay Bilas Skills Camp will be in Oklahoma City, OK on June 10-12, 2017. Our Charlotte, NC camp will be on June 16-18, 2017. These camps are for rising 9th - 12th grade boys who want to fundamentally develop their game, their hustle and their toughness. If this sounds like you (or someone you know), email John Searby for more information. 

Instruction v. Exposure

If you've been around high school, AAU, or club basketball, you’ve probably heard a player or parent ask: “How can I get more exposure to college coaches?” I believe that we should refocus this question to “Where can I get the best instruction?”

I understand and appreciate the desire to “be seen” by college coaches. I had the opportunity to play college basketball and it was one of the most impactful and important experiences of my life. I have seen, however, too many families who are only focused on the exposure they are getting once they have made it to high school and have started to dream about the possibility of playing their sport in college. Instead of enjoying the game and improving their skills, they focus on who is watching and how their individual play is being evaluated. Why is this a problem? In order to understand it, it is important to look at the roots of the words “instruction” and “exposure.”

The word instruct is simply defined as “to teach someone a subject or skill.” When you are receiving instruction in basketball a coach is spending time teaching you skills important to the game. The environments that this teaching takes place in usually are safe places where it is ok to make mistakes, it is ok to stop and discuss things with the teacher, and it is ok to ask questions of others. By nature, a teaching environment does not contain the pressure of a performance environment, thus allowing the player to learn at his or her own pace and focus on improving weaknesses. All too often, when athletes get to the high school level they believe that they don’t really have anything else to learn; they usually know the basics and their physical abilities have made them better than most of their peers. This false sense of security leads players to de-emphasize or completely ignore their need for skill instruction from qualified coaches and teachers of their game. The reality is that as your game advances, it becomes even MORE important to get quality coaching and instruction to get better. One of the coaches that we’ve had the pleasure of working with at the Jay Bilas Skills Camp is Alan Stein and he shared his experience in working with Steph Curry, arguably the most skilled player in the NBA today. Continuing to learn and receive instruction will ensure that you continue to improve your game.

On the contrary, the word expose is defined as “to reveal something hidden.” If you think about this, how often do you really WANT exposure? Players and parents alike think that anything that is providing them exposure to college coaches and scouts is a good thing; the reality is that every one of those “exposure camps” or “exposure events” is designed to reveal something hidden. Every time you play in front of a college coach, they are looking for you to expose your weaknesses. If you can’t guard one on one, that will be exposed. If you aren’t a good teammate or aren’t coachable, that will be exposed. If you are one dimensional in your offensive skills, that will be exposed. The whole purpose of exposure events and the evaluation periods for college coaches is for them to determine which players they are going to spend time pursuing in a more personal manner. The easiest way to shorten that list is for your skills to be exposed in relation to others of your same age group. Once you step between the lines in games at these exposure events, your game is what it is and it will be exposed.

I get it, players and parents still want a chance to play basketball at the college level and our current system relies on exposure events to give college coaches a chance to see players who may be able to play at their level. I’m not suggesting that there is no value to exposure events and that everyone should stop attending them. What I am suggesting is that skill instruction SHOULD NOT BE OVERLOOKED for high school athletes. It isn’t good enough to just get your teaching during your high school season and then go play on a club team or travel team to get exposure. Players who are serious about continuing to improve so that they can COMPETE at the next level, should seek out opportunities for instruction in the off season as well. This might mean choosing a club team or AAU team that is focused on teaching and improving your game. This might mean going to camps where the focus is on improving your skills, not showing off for college coaches. This might mean skipping a few ‘exposure events’ so that you can get some one on one instruction from a qualified teacher of your game. And it definitely means a lot more individual work on your own and small group work with your friends to improve your skills. If you focus more on INSTRUCTION, I can almost guarantee that there will be less to EXPOSE when you’re in front of those college coaches.

The Season is Over...Now What?

So your team lost in the first round of the play-offs. Now what are you going to do?

For many players, the end of the season can be really tough to handle. Your whole world has revolved around basketball for the past 4 months and now there is no practice, no treatment in the training room, no horsing around in the locker room with the guys, no road trips, and no Friday nights with the gym lights on to get you going.

I would encourage you to take this time to do 3 simple things:

1.     Rest and reflect. Don’t feel like you have to immediately start something new. That is not to say you should let yourself get out of shape, but it is healthy to take a week away from the gym. Go for a run, play some catch with friends, or just walk around the mall. Find ways to take your mind off the disappointment of a season that ended sooner than you wanted. If you truly love the game, this week off will make you more hungry than ever to get better.

2.     Set goals for the next year. Look back at the past season and think about what would have made you a better player? Maybe you had trouble defending quicker guys and you need to improve your lateral quickness. Perhaps you got pushed around on the block and need to get stronger. Maybe you just couldn’t finish at the rim and you need to work on your one on one skills and going through contact on your drives. Or maybe your shooting percentage struggled at a new position and you need to get more game shots up on your own. Whatever areas you need to improve on, write them down. Commit to improving those things and then make a plan that will help you accomplish those goals.

3.     Get back in the gym. The only way you’ll really get that sour taste out of your mouth from losing is to get back on the court and start competing again with yourself and others. Commit time by yourself or with a friend to work on your individual game. Get a group of teammates together to play 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 regularly to improve your half court play. And join an AAU program where you can both contribute and get coached to test yourself regularly against other good players.

Once you’ve recharged and refreshed, set some goals for yourself for the upcoming year, and got yourself back in the gym, make sure you register for the Jay Bilas Skills Camp, June 10-12 at Queens University of Charlotte. We’ll make sure you get your mid-summer check in on your skills work, get some awesome coaching from college head coaches, and learn new skills and drills that will continue to develop your game so that you return to your high school team this fall a different, and better, player.