The Training Diary: David Walker

THE TRAINING DIARY FEATURES NEWS, NOTES, AND INTERVIEWS FROM THE GROUND ZERO TRAINING FAMILY. THE THIRD PLAYER INTERVIEW, IN WHAT IS A FEATURE SERIES, SPOTLIGHTS DAVID WALKER.

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A native of Stow, OH, Walker spent four years at Northeastern University. He finished his collegiate career by cementing his name among the top shooters in school history and leading his team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 24 years. Since graduating, Walker has embarked on a professional basketball career, which has taken him to Andorra in the ACB, which is widely regarded as one of the top leagues in the world. Currently, David is in his rookie season playing for MoraBanc Andorra.

Q. After your high school career was up, you made the decision to attend Northeastern, what made you make that specific decision? Do you feel slighted that you weren’t given scholarship offers by some bigger name schools?

David Walker:
I decided to go to Northeastern because I felt like I had a chance to really play good minutes as a freshman or even to start. It was just such a family atmosphere on the visit and that really drew me in. I did feel slighted that the offers never came my way from the bigger schools, and really carried that chip on my shoulder when we went up against those top programs. On the other side, had I ended up at a bigger school, I might have not had an impact like I did right away. In the end, I had such a phenomenal experience at Northeastern and am really proud to be associated with such a great school and program.

Q. What was it like winning the Colonial Athletic Association with Northeastern your junior year and making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 24 years?

DW:
It’s an unimaginable experience going to the NCAA Tournament. To be able to break such a long drought is amazing. There’s something special about the atmosphere in the NCAA Tournament. It was truly electrifying. We fought hard and almost advanced. I just wish we had the opportunity to play in even more games. It was definitely an experience I will always remember and be very proud of.

Q. After a very impressive collegiate career, you went undrafted in the 2016 NBA Draft. How much does that fuel you to keep proving people wrong?

DW:
It definitely fuels me to prove people wrong because I was never a big name. I have confidence in myself that I can play at the highest level. In the end, I believe going undrafted and playing overseas now is going to be a blessing in disguise. I just look forward to waking up and working each and every single day to not only contribute to my current team, but to show others what I am capable of.

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Q. Tell us about your experience so far playing in the ACB.

DW:
This league is everything people said it was. When I found out that I had the opportunity to play in one of the toughest leagues in the world, I did not hesitate. The level of talent here is great. There are NBA players in this league, and as you saw this past summer, players moved from the ACB to the NBA. On any night, any team can win. It really makes you hold yourself accountable. As individuals and as a team, you have to come focused and ready to play.

Q. What’s it like having to completely adjust your way of life and to move to a different country where there is a cultural adjustment?

DW:
It was definitely hard moving to another country. I do think being away from my family during college helped prepare me in a sense for this experience. There are surprisingly a decent amount of English speakers here, which is really helpful. The language barrier can be tough at times, but I’m really enjoying the experience and by now I do feel pretty comfortable.

 Q. Give your fans back home an idea of Andorra and what a typical day looks like for you?

 DW:
I feel very fortunate to be in such a great country and surrounded by so many welcoming people. Andorra is beautiful. This a place and team I’m very proud to represent.  

A typical day during the preseason would start with me waking up around 8 or 9 in the morning. I’d always start off with a healthy breakfast to fuel me for the day. From there, I would generally go lift and head to our first practice. Lunch would follow, along with a nap to help recharge and get ready for the second practice at around 5 or 6. When practice was over, it was usually about 7 or 8 at night so we would go eat dinner afterwards. By the time I got home, it would really be time to go to sleep. It was definitely a tough preseason, but now that season has started, the focus is a bit different and I have a lot more time on my hands. I really try to keep myself occupied in my down time by catching up with friends and family back home, and watching a few shows on Netflix.

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Q. How was your experience representing the Miami Heat this summer?

DW:
Playing for the Heat was a great experience on so many levels. I was just able to learn so many subtle things that go into being a true professional. Just simple things like what to eat for breakfast, getting your legs right, and how to recover in the most efficient way possible. The NBA atmosphere was amazing, and I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to play for such a historic franchise.  

Q. Your versatility has been a major asset to you in your career, and is one thing that really has NBA and international teams intrigued. Do you feel that you are someone who can not only step out and play multiple positions, but guard them as well?

DW:
For sure. I think that I can play multiple positions because I’m a great passer and shooter. I think being able to play out of the ball screen well is huge and an asset of mine. I feel as though I will only continue to get better at all of these. On the defensive end, I think I can defend multiple positions due to my size and athleticism. Over time, as I get quicker and stronger, I think my defensive abilities will only improve.

Q. Did you ever envision that basketball would allow you to not only get a free top-level education, but also take you around the world and provide you a career?

DW:
Not really! When I played in high school, I didn’t even imagine playing in college until the summer going into my junior year. I was able to continue to develop my game thanks to some great coaching in high school, and eventually had college offers. When I got to college, I wanted to excel and perform at a high level, but never imagined I would play professionally. Once I started hearing about scouts at my games, and different agents contacting my coach, I realized I could use the game I love as a career. It’s truly a blessing to be able to get paid to play basketball, and traveling the world is a great bonus that just happened to come along with it. I love my job.

Q. Anything you would like to say to your fans around the world?

DW:
I just want to say thank you to everyone that has supported me since day one! I would tell everyone to just do what makes you happy, because as I’ve realized, being able to go to work every day and love it, is something to never take for granted. I really couldn’t be happier with where I’m at being 22 years old. As they say, if you love your job, you will never work a day in your life.

Ground Zero Training

www.groundzerotraining.com

The Training Diary: Brandon Provost

THE TRAINING DIARY FEATURES NEWS, NOTES, AND INTERVIEWS FROM THE GROUND ZERO TRAINING FAMILY. THE SECOND PLAYER INTERVIEW, IN WHAT IS A FEATURE SERIES, SPOTLIGHTS BRANDON PROVOST.

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A native of Katy, TX, Provost spent one year at the Air Force Academy before transferring to the University of Texas-Pan American. Provost finished his collegiate career by cementing his name in many statistical category top rankings, including a .452 shooting percentage, good for second in UTPA program history. Since graduating, Provost has embarked on a professional basketball career which has taken him around the world.

Q. After a highly successful high school career, you decided to attend the Air Force Academy. What made you make that specific decision?

Brandon Provost:
I decided to go to the Air Force Academy for a few reasons really. I knew that I was making a decision that wasn’t solely about basketball. I was putting myself in a position to grow and mature as a person. The institution is a really special place. Even though I left the AFA, I still have such a huge level of appreciation for all that work and attend there. On the basketball side, this was a place that had been ranked in the top 25 a couple years before I attended, and played in the Mountain West Conference. That alone is something to be held in high regard. In addition, I built a great relationship with one of the assistant coaches on staff. They were just some very positive things about it, and that ultimately led me to want to attend the Air Force Academy.

Q. You decided to transfer after one season there. Why was that?

BP:
I made the decision to transfer because after re-evaluating things, the lifestyle wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be. I have all the respect in the world for members of our armed forces, but at the AFA, there are so many things that pull at you. I found myself just wanting to go to school and play basketball. In the end, all the extra military activities and expectations just were not something that I wanted to concentrate on so heavily at the time.
Q. Is there anything you would change about your collegiate career and overall experience?

BP:
My college experience was a phenomenal one. If I had one thing I could go back and do differently though, I would choose to be a more aggressive player. Looking back I feel like my passive and easy going attitude carried over on the court at times. Having experienced playing professional basketball, and needing to be the go to guy, I feel like I could have impacted my team in a more positive manner, and in turn probably lifted my own level of potential personal success.

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Q. Talk to us about your professional basketball career. What countries has basketball taken you to and what teams have you played with?

BP:
My pro career has definitely taken me to some places I never thought I would go to. My first year out of college, I played for BG Leitershofen in Germany. Then I joined the RGV Vipers and Erie Bayhawks of the NBA Development League. After those stops, I played with Al Sadd in Qatar, Astros del Valle in Cali, Colombia and finally with Fuerza Guinda de Nogales in the Mexican CIBACOPA League.
Q. What is it like having to pack up and essentially be forced to adjust to a different country and culture? Any advice you have to share for those that will be making the jump overseas for the first time?

BP:
Packing and leaving gets easier as time goes on. It’s all about knowing what to expect and the main thing to expect is the required period for adjustment. My only advice would be to not panic. Adjusting to the overseas game can sometimes take time, but an adjustment to the culture will also not happen overnight.

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Q. Are there any funny stories or moments that stand out?

BP:
Oh man, too many. One of the best ones is when I was involved in getting hit by a car in Germany. I was walking back from the store at about 8:30 AM and some older lady threw her car in reverse without looking. Well, she hit me. Thankfully, she didn’t hit me too hard. It was hard enough to knock me down and leave some nice bruises, but I didn’t even miss practice. The worst part about that all was having to eat dry cereal after, because when I fell, the milk carton unfortunately went down too. Rough.
Q. Did you ever envision that basketball would allow you to not only get a free education, but take you around the world and provide you a career?

BP:
I think after my first year playing at UTPA, it became more of a possibility in my head. It kind of switched from just being a dream to a goal at that point. When it happens though, it is still such a surreal feeling and something I’m fortunate to get to do.

Ground Zero Training

www.groundzerotraining.com

Get To Know GZT: An Interview with Ground Zero Training’s Tim Anderson and Jason Benadretti

After a very busy summer, Ground Zero Training Founder and CEO, Tim Anderson, and Executive V.P. and Director of Basketball Operations, Jason Benadretti, sat down for an in depth interview.

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Q: Tell us a little about your background.

Tim Anderson:

I grew up in the inner city of Chicago and used basketball as a way to not only get out of an undesirable living situation, but also to get myself an education. Growing up in a tough neighborhood can shape someone, but it can also break them too, and I’ve seen so many people go down the wrong path. I’ve lost family and friends to the wrong things, but I was very fortunate to have some great mentors to help guide me in the right direction.

Jason Benadretti:

Tim and I arguably have some of the biggest differences in upbringing and environment, but some very real similarities too. I grew up in Irvine, CA, which is ranked as one of the safest cities in the country year after year. As the son of African immigrants, I was brought up with a very real perspective on life and a sound appreciation for cultural differences. And, just like Tim, I was fortunate to use basketball to obtain a degree. This game is a major driving force in so many of my life experiences.

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Nike’s “The Trip” team after their win over the Bahamas. The team consisting of 13 of the nation’s top prospects was coached by GZT’s Tim Anderson, 5 Time NBA champion/LA Lakers Associate Head Coach Brian Shaw, NBA Champion Rasheed Wallace, and 1997 NCAA Tournament Champion and Most Outstanding Player Miles Simon

 

Q. How did you get into player development?

TA:

My path has been a winding one for sure, but one that has always placed player development and relationships at its core. Growing up, I attended one of the toughest, and most talented schools in the country, Crane High School, where I played alongside NBA players, Tony Allen, and my brother, Will Bynum. Even at a young age, I had a passion for increasing skill development in others and made an effort to train players. After I finished playing in college at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, I played semi-pro ball and then jumped right into coaching. I coached at the HS, JUCO, D2, and D1 levels, where I was always in charge of the player development programs. Watching my players improve as the days went on was a motivating factor for me, and that was really what drove me to start Ground Zero Training.

JB:

My path has undoubtedly taken some twists and turns as the years have gone on. I was an average player, with a passion and hunger for the game that was off the charts. After college, I jumped head first into the coaching world, very eager to blaze a path forward. I spent some time working in the college ranks at the JUCO, NAIA, and D1 levels. That then led to an opportunity working as a scout in the NBA. Through it all, I constantly had the desire to help players improve their game. That desire reached a new level during my time spent scouting, as it was the first time I didn’t have the opportunity to make an impact on the outcome of a game. This made me really analyze player strengths and weaknesses, and I found myself more eager than ever to help players take it to a new level. When the opportunity came to help Tim build up GZT, I jumped right on it. I’m very fortunate to do what I do today. Working with someone I consider family, and some of the top basketball players in the world is special, and special should never be taken for granted.

 

Q. Is there credence to the old saying, “players don’t care what you know until they know you care?”

TA:

That saying couldn’t be more true and it’s what we base Ground Zero Training off of. Our goal is to help every single player improve their skills as well as help each one move onto the next phase of his or her life. The relationships we develop in the gym, and off the court, last a lifetime. This is family.

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GZT’s Tim Anderson with NBA Veteran Will Bynum

 

Q.Why the name Ground Zero Training?

JB:

There are two things that really went into the name. First off, we are at the epicenter of player development. In the last three NBA Drafts we have had 15 players drafted with 10 of those being 1st Round Picks. Beyond that, multiple players have signed NBA contracts. That’s just at the NBA level too. We’ve been fortunate to be a part of the process for so many players who have secured professional contracts overseas, college scholarships, and even improved their standing at the high school and youth levels. The second thing that went into the name is huge – GZT was shaped by our backgrounds. We want to show everyone that there is a way out of any situation through hard work and refusing to settle for anything less than your best. To this day, I’m extremely proud of what Ground Zero Training stands for and represents.

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GZT’s Jason Benadretti at the end of a group workout

 

Q. What does a typical day consist of for GZT with your NBA players?

TA:

Each day is a bit different and it really depends on whether our players are in season or out of season. First off, you need to treat each player as his or her own mold. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and at GZT we aim to improve both of those areas every single day. That doesn’t just go for the players we train, but for the staff as well. We are big believers in film study, as the tape usually doesn’t lie. We need our NBA and professional clients to be able to continue to improve at a level that is so cutthroat. During the off-season, our NBA guys often go through a skill development workout, a shooting workout, and depending on the players and the timing, 3-on-3, 4-on-4, or 5-on-5, where we are able to institute certain NBA aspects a player might see in a game. We are available 24 hours a day to our guys. The fight to be at the top is so intense, and sometimes you find yourself having to go at it a bit with some of the guys in order for them to just get some rest. It’s not rare for Will Bynum or Jabari Parker to call at 3:00 or 4:00am and want to get a workout in. I know I can speak for Jason about this too – we feel the highs and lows of our players’ performances. If a guy has a bad night, we may get a call or text asking to come in and lend a hand, or to give him some feedback. So we’re constantly trying to balance trusting the process and figuring out what can be done to help our guys.

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GZT clients Will Bynum, Charles Matthews, and Tyler Ulis during a recent off-season workout

 

Q. Is there anywhere you won’t go to help a client?

JB:

Not really. Like Tim said, we are essentially on call for our guys. This is what we do and we want to make sure everyone has their best chance to be successful at their respective level. We don’t just serve them domestically, but internationally as well. Tim has previously spent months in China with Will Bynum, and Yi Jianlian when they were with the Guangdong Southern Tigers, and today both players are back in the NBA. I personally just returned from Colombia where I spent a few weeks helping a pro team, Aguilas de Tunja, get ready for their season. You never really know who is going to need you, and when, but we are always more than willing to do what is necessary to help our clients.

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GZT recently traveled to Tunja, Colombia to help prepare the professional team, Aguilas de Tunja, for their upcoming season

 

Q. What’s next for GZT?

TA:

We’re looking to expand our brand even further. People have to realize that nothing is more important than your reputation and name, so we have purposely passed on some opportunities and built GZT to what it is today in a very deliberate manner. We’re at a point where we do feel comfortable looking into some expansion opportunities now. This is definitely an exciting time for GZT and we look forward to the future as well.

Ground Zero Training

www.groundzerotraining.com

Ground Zero Training In Colombia

Ground Zero Training’s Jason Benadretti recently visited Colombia to work with Aguilas de Tunja of Colombia’s professional basketball league. The 2015 Champions welcomed him with open arms as they embarked on a 2.5 week training experience to prepare for their upcoming season. Aguilas aim to regain their league title this season, and set themselves on a path to doing so with two-a-day on court skill development sessions. In addition, members of the team were put on a strength training and nutrition program to help fine tune their bodies, and increase athletic performance.

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As part of Benadretti’s trip, he co-hosted a camp for the youth in conjunction with Aguilas de Tunja. The two weekend camp consisted of two-a-day sessions on both Saturday and Sunday in an effort to provide as much player development time as possible.

gztaguilascampGZT’s Jason Benadretti (center) with some members of the co-hosted camp with Aguilas de Tunja

 

Best of luck to Aguilas de Tunja this upcoming season! We look forward to working with them and the Colombian basketball community again in the very near future.

 

www.groundzerotraining.com

 

Ground Zero’s Yi Jianlian Inks Deal With The Los Angeles Lakers

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The Los Angeles Lakers have officially announced the signing of Ground Zero Training client Yi Jianlian!

Yi, who is from China, recently finished playing for his country at the ’16 Olympic Games, where he averaged over 20 points per game while shooting 46.7% from three-point range. This was Yi’s 4th Olympic Games in his highly successful career.

Lakers fans shouldn’t take this signing lightly, as Yi was formerly drafted with the 6th pick in the ’07 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. This marks Yi’s fifth team in his NBA career with stints as arguably the most successful player in the Chinese Basketball Association’s history.  He is a polarizing figure in the league having been named the CBA MVP 8 times. In addition, he is a 4 time CBA Champion, 2 time CBA Finals MVP, and has won 3 gold medals at the FIBA Asia Championships.

After a season working with Ground Zero Training’s CEO Tim Anderson and teaming with fellow GZT client Will Bynum, Yi Jianlian went on to claim the CBA MVP award for his 8th time! We look forward to continuing to work with Yi as he returns to the NBA to team with 2015 1st Round GZT product, Larry Nance Jr.

 

 

www.groundzerotraining.com

Ryan Boatright Signs In China

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Ground Zero Training’s Ryan Boatright has signed a contract with the Foshan Long-Lions in China! Adding another impressive stop to the resume, Ryan will relish the chance to be a tough nosed leader. Boatright is sure to become a fan favorite, as they will get an opportunity to see his fast and aggressive attacking style of play. Best of luck to Ryan as he continues the next step in a great career!

 

www.groundzerotraining.com

Jabari Parker & Doug McDermott Represent USA Basketball

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Jabari Parker and Doug McDermott were selected to represent USA Basketball in Las Vegas, Nevada during the Team USA Training Camp. Both Jabari and Doug were a part of a very competitive group on the USA Select Team. Being members of USA Basketball has always been a huge point of pride for these two, and getting the opportunity to push the Olympic Team will go a great way towards helping the USA finish with big result in Rio. We look forward to seeing both of them continue their great offseason as we inch closer to the start of the 2016-2017 NBA schedule!

 

www.groundzerotraining.com