Saturday, July 21, 2018

Trust the Process: Passing Down Knowledge

written by Octavio Parral | @octavio_parral
Coach Pope during a training session. Photo Cred: Dorina Pope
Next Level Skills Basketball Academy is a direct representation of the famous Joel Embiid quote, “Trust the Process.” The process of going to college for academics and athletics is not a simple task and requires a multitude of facets in order for success to occur. Five of Coach Pope’s athletes have been playing basketball since their childhood and now they are headed towards a new season of life: college.

Trey Esaw, Erric Adams, Daquan Conner, Bryce Watts, and Daniel Belser are all headed to college. Four for basketball and one to pursue an education with the lessons he has learned from the game. Next Level Skills focuses on creating a community of players to learn and grow with each other. The five graduating seniors created a To-Do and a Not To-Do list from their experiences in high school to pass on to the other players coming up through the program. These objectives might seem simple, but they have all effected one or more of the seniors greatly during their recruitment process.


  • Go to school and attend ALL of your classes
  • Turn in all classwork/homework on time
  • Arrive to practice every day early to get extra shots
  • Do extra work on and off the court every day (basketball, weight room, school work)
  • Maintain a clean social media
  • Ask questions and listen to advice
  • Use email to reach out to academic and basketball personnel (coaches, counselors, and teachers)
  • Collect highlights for highlight tapes. At least one needs to be completed by the end of your junior year
  • Have fun
Each Do is a key component to play college basketball. Of course, there are the Don’ts, which can effect anybody’s chances of playing.


  • Don’t burn bridges with academic and athletic personnel. These people will help you achieve your goals
  • Don’t go blind into any college entrance exams (ACT and SAT)
  • Don’t wait for college coaches to approach you. Market yourself
  • Don’t play Fortnite every night. Accommodate your time for rest
  • Don’t slack in the classroom
  • Dont let your grades and behavior slip. Coaches would rather have an average player with great grades and is very coachable rather than a great player with bad grades and does not listen. The average player that is coachable and has good grades has much more potential and that is what coaches look for when recruiting.
  • Dont ball hog. Not getting your teammates involved leads to college coaches questioning your priorities and character. 

The class of 2018 has provided these Do’s and Don’ts in hopes to help other players in Nashville achieve their goals of playing college basketball. 

Tray Esaw will attend Volunteer State Community College.

Erric Adams will attend Tennesse Wesleyan University.

Daniel Belser is pursuing an opportunity to attend Goshen College.

Bryce Watts will attend Covenant College.

Daquan Conner will attend the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

Good luck to these players and wish them a great experience. If you want to hear more from the players and coach, contact Coach Pope at Next Level Skills

- Next Level Skills Basketball Academy


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