Originally Published In BBA Newsletter Summer Edition

Interviewed By: Jarron Flynn, Kyle Butler, Alvie Stoddard and Alex Stoddard

Foreword by Alex Stoddard (Written in 2012, edited 2013)

In early 2012, the BBA Newsletter (now GAME TIME Magazine) interviewed Coach Koran Godwin by phone at VBC’s (Visionary Basketball Club) facility in Melrose, MA. The interview was conducted by: Jarron Flynn, Kyle Butler, Alex Stoddard, and Alvie Stoddard. I first contacted Coach Godwin as part of a school assignment to just send a letter to an author. During the summer of 2011, I purchased his book, “Everyone Hates a Ball Hog but They All Love a Scorer”, at the AAU Nationals Tournament in Hampton, Virginia. After reading his book several times, I chose to send a letter to Coach Godwin as part of a school assignment. Coach Godwin graciously agreed to allow us to interview him for the Newsletter.

During the interview, it became clear that Coach Godwin was not only a great basketball player but he was also a gifted academic student. His passion for basketball came across during the interview and this passion is also shown in his videos, blogs and newsletters. He emphasized that his priorities in life are: God, Family, School and then, Basketball.

The objective of the interview was to get insights as to what it takes to be a great basketball player as well as a well-rounded successful person.

Here are some of the things we learned from Coach Godwin:

At what age did you begin playing basketball?
I grew up in New Jersey and started playing basketball when I was 8 years old. I was an excellent student in school and my mother strongly encouraged me to play basketball, baseball and football. I was the leading scorer on my team at the age of 8. And at the age of 9, I began to focus on basketball.

Did you play AAU Basketball in New Jersey?
I started playing AAU basketball when I was 13. I attended Abraham Clark High School in Roselle NJ. My school was very close to St. Patrick High School (Elizabeth, NJ). The St Pat’s coach, Chris Chavannes, had an AAU team called the NJ Roadrunners which I played for prior to Coach Chavannes starting his own
 AAU team, Fast Break. The Fast Break AAU team was mostly St Pat’s players and me. During my HS and AAU playing days I played with Dahntay Jones (Atlanta Hawks) and Al Harrington (Orlando Magic).

What were your other interests as a youth?
All year round I played a sport (Football, Basketball, Baseball). During my sophomore year of high school, at the age of 15, I stopped playing football and baseball and focused on basketball. My mother kept me focused on school work and kept me active in sports.

Tell us about your experience at Abraham Clark High School and what was the most important game that you played in?

My four years at Abraham Clark HS was a great experience. Abraham Clark is one of the top schools in NJ. The school holds more state titles than any other public school in NJ. During my senior year, I averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds per game. After I left Abraham Clark, Jesse Holly became the all-time leader scorer. (Jesse Holly went on to become a wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys).

The most important game that I played in was during my sophomore year – when I played both Varsity and Junior Varsity. (In NJ, you were allowed to play six quarters). Abraham Clark’s JV team went undefeated and won the County Championship by defeating Elizabeth HS (Elizabeth HS was the eight time reigning champion). I actually made the winning shot at the buzzer.

Before games how did you manage nervousness and the butterflies?
Before every game you will have the butterflies, especially if you are a performer. To reduce the nervousness, my approach was to always “visualize the game”. I would visualize what was going to happen on the court – visualize scoring in different ways during the game and, most of all, pray. Preparation and repetition is required.

What attracted you to the University of Buffalo (Div-I) and why did you transfer to the University of North Florida (Div- II)?
One of my aspirations was to work in NY on Wall Street –
 this led me to the University of Buffalo (the Coach at the University of Buffalo was a previous Wall Street executive). The cold, snowy weather in Buffalo is what led me to transfer to the University of North Florida. However, before leaving Buffalo, I got a summer job in NY on Wall Street (working on the trading floor).

What did it take to be the leading scorer at the University of North Florida (1,513 points)? 

It took basketball insight and knowledge. I believe that the game is 80% mental and 20% physical (showcased in his DVD, 80/20 Scorer). My recently released 80/20 Scorer DVD highlights what is required mentally and physically.

How much did you practice as a kid?
As a kid, I practiced every single day. I always had a basketball in my hands and would work on dribbling and shooting whenever there was an opportunity. One recommendation for a move to perfect is the between the legs crossover move (because this is the one move where you are changing directions and the ball is going backwards as you are going forward). I also spent a great deal of time visualizing plays. My bedroom wall was covered with pictures of my favorite basketball players – this 
allowed me to subconsciously visualize basketball greatness.

Tell us about the experience of being inducted into the University of North Florida Hall of Fame:

Being inducted into the Hall of Fame was one of the greatest experiences in my life. It validated that all of the hard work that I had put into developing his game, since the age of 8, was worth the investment.

Tell us about the experience in participating in a pre-draft workout with the Orlando Magic team:

To get a call, during the summer of 2002, from the Orlando Magic to come and work out with them was my greatest on court experience. When I went into the locker room my uniform and NBA socks were waiting for me. I had the opportunity to meet Amare Stoudemire, who was still in HS. The first activity was a strength test – bench pressing 160 Lbs. This was followed by intense court play time – shooting drills, pick and roll drills. 

What teams are you coaching today?
I am the Assistant Coach at Bishop McNamara HS (Forestville, MD). Coaching at Bishop McNamara allows me to see a lot of AAU players. Bishop McNamara is in the WCAC conference with DeMatha and Gonzaga – all three of these are nationally ranked HS teams.

What do HS coaches look for in players?
HS Coaches initially look for the fundamental skills (shoot, pass, dribble and finish with both hands). Then they look at the tangibles: do they play hard, play defense, willing to take a charge, do they talk. And most importantly, are they a good student.

What are the qualities and characteristics that a guard needs to be successful on the court?

To be a successful guard you have to have the mentality to be a scorer. You have to be able to handle the ball, pass the ball and shoot the ball. And, a successful guard must lead by example – this makes all of the teammates better.

What has been the most fun thing about coaching?

Watching a player develop over the four years of High School. And, then seeing these students receive a college scholarship.

What was the most fun thing about writing the book?
Looking back on his experiences and reflecting on the many positive experiences I have had.

Breaking the game into Quarters:
Quarter 1 is the toughest quarter to score in because of the pregame jitters. By the 4th quarter you are able to gauge the flow of the game and how you can score. Breaking the game into quarters allows you to put the game time in perspective – points per quarter.

What are the key takeaways for your book?
Priorities: God, Family, School, then Basketball.

Be a student of the game – always continue acquiring knowledge about the game - Study game films, love your craft, analyze the game and players - acquire more knowledge.

What one piece of advice would you give us?

Keep God first, help others and always go the extra mile. Use basketball to excel in life.