Chad Hixon

Email – chixon1911@gmail.com

Twitter – @CoachHixonDimes

Chad Hixon is currently the Head Coach of the Atlanta Lightning 17U program, a travel basketball team based out of Conyers, Georgia. Chad’s two biggest passions are Education and Basketball. Through his platform, he works to expose young people to all of the opportunities available to them both on and off the basketball court.

Hixon is a 2010 graduate of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. At Emory, he was a 4-year member of the Men’s Basketball program (2 at the Oxford College campus & 2 at the Atlanta campus). During the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons, he was named a 2nd Team All-American by the NJCAA. After graduation, Chad took a few years off from basketball before returning to Emory as a Volunteer Assistant under Head Coach Jason Zimmerman from 2013-16. In those three years, Emory went to three NCAA Division III Tournaments, including 1 Elite 8 and 2 Sweet 16 trips. Following the 2016 season, Hixon transitioned to high school basketball coaching, serving as an assistant coach at Lakeside High School from 2016-18 and Grady High School during the 2018-19 season.

This episode is packed with solid advice for coaches, parents, and players so make sure you’re prepared to take some notes as you listen to our conversation with Coach Chad Hixon from the Atlanta Lightning in the state of Georgia.

What We Discuss with Chad Hixon

Choosing the Best FIT

As the parent of a prospective student-athlete, you are constantly bombarded with information from all kinds of sources. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and misleading content on the internet. It can be extremely stressful and overwhelming at times. Ultimately, recruiting is about finding the school that is the best fit for your son or daughter.

My goal is to help each player that I work with find the best FIT (Academically, Financially, Socially, and Athletically) for the student-athlete and their family. But what does find the Best “FIT” mean? Here is a breakdown of some key questions and thoughts to consider when looking at schools to determine FIT:

  • Academics: Does the school offer your major or desired program of study? What student-athlete support services are available (Tutoring; Supplemental Instruction; Career Services; Study Abroad; etc.)? You may also want to look at the student-faculty ratio for each institution you are considering. Small class sizes allow for more interaction with your professors, but also requires more class participation. Does the school mandate or offer experiential learning (internship) opportunities? If you are interested in pursuing a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) major, does the school offer undergraduate research opportunities?
  • Finances: Is the school affordable for your family? The average college student is now graduating with almost $30,000 in student loan debt. In today’s world, you must be smart and strategic with your educational choices. Having a plan, but more importantly, executing the plan can significantly reduce the cost of your education. It’s extremely important to do your research. I strongly encourage every student-athlete to go through the process – do not let the sticker price (the cost listed on the school website) scare you away. Speak with the financial aid office and submit your FAFSA as early as possible. Class of 2021 student-athletes will be able to complete their FAFSA for the 2021-22 school year beginning October 1, 2020. Many schools have Financial Aid calculators on their website, which allows you to input your family financial data and get an estimated financial aid package. I also encourage families to look for outside scholarships – many businesses, churches, as well as sororities and fraternities offer college scholarships to graduating seniors.
  • Social: The location and campus environment can have a tremendous impact on your college experience. Are there student organizations on campus that match your interests? If not, is there an opportunity for you to create that organization? What are the campus demographics? The great thing about college is that it exposes you to people with different backgrounds, life experiences, perspectives, opinions, and viewpoints. Most of the learning in college takes place outside of the classroom – you want to pick a place that will allow you to broaden your horizons.
  • Athletics: Is there an opportunity to compete for playing time? Does the style of play complement your skill set? Does the coach develop players? Does the coach graduate his/her players? Perhaps, most importantly, were you a priority recruit for the coaching staff? If not, you may want to consider other options.

Choosing a school based upon the best FIT will give you a much more fulfilling and enjoyable college experience than chasing a level will. 

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THANKS, CHAD HIXON!

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Transcript for Chad Hixon – Head Coach of the U17 Atlanta Lightning – Episode 282

[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the hoop heads podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my cohost Jason Sunkle. Tonight we are pleased to welcome to the podcast basketball coach, Chad Hixon. Chad, welcome to the podcast.

Chad Hixon: [00:00:09] Thanks for having me be here.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:11] Absolutely. We’re excited to have you on and get a chance to dig into your basketball journey.

Learn a little bit more about you as a basketball player, a basketball coach, and all the things that you are trying to do to help young people improve themselves through the game of basketball. Want to start out by going back in time to when you were a kid. And let’s talk a little bit about how you got into the game of basketball when you were younger.

Chad Hixon: [00:00:32] Sure. I’m thinking back, I think it was around four a four or five. I’m just can remember watching Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls, and I really kind of sparked that love for me. Uh, I started playing around that age and like local rec leagues and church leagues. Uh. As I got older, started playing school ball in middle school and whatnot.

Then, which eventually led to high school and so forth. Uh, so here around basketball now for [00:01:00] 25 plus years. I love it. Um. Can, you can’t imagine my life without it

Mike Klinzing: [00:01:05] all right? Can’t let the Jordan comment go by without putting out the argument of a greatest of all time Michael Jordan, or do you have somebody else?

Or what’s your thoughts on that whole discussion?

Chad Hixon: [00:01:17] As somebody who grew up in the 90s he’s always going to be my, my goat. He’s always number one for me. Um, I, I can’t imagine ever putting anybody above him. Yeah,

Mike Klinzing: [00:01:28] I’m with you 100%. Uh, I grew up, by the time the nineties rolled around, I was born in 1970 so the, the beginning of his career sort of coincided with my childhood when he was at Carolina, and then growing up and kind of watching his entire career unfold kind of before my eyes.

And I just, I always tell people that what makes me feel that he’s the greatest player of all time. And there’s, I could, we could go on and on and on about stats and this. And that is, to me, it was always just a feel that [00:02:00] when you watched Jordan play and the game came down to the last three or four minutes, I always, always had 100% confidence that he was going to figure out a way to win that game for his team.

And I’ve never felt that way. 100% about any other athlete besides him. Not just in basketball, but in any sport. And to me that’s the ultimate argument. The ultimate thing is that you’re a winner and you’re going to win games. You’re gonna figure it out. And I just think, to me, the argument that other guys are better than him always falls on deaf ears when people try to bring that to me, because I still just think, man, there’s, there’s nobody.

I never watched anybody who. Instilled as much belief in me as he did when I watched him play. I just always felt like he was going to come through. And that’s not to say that obviously he always did. Cause there were occasions where he didn’t, but more times than not, man, he was, he was just, I still remember where I was when he hit the shot over Byron Russell [00:03:00] fan in my living room.

I was by myself actually watching that game and I stood up off my couch. And I put my hands on the top of my head and I walked around in circles for like 25 seconds. Just not in so much in disbelief, but just in like, I can’t believe that this guy just lives out. What exactly what you would have envisioned happening happened.

And it’s just so hard to wrap your head around how somebody could just be that good.

Chad Hixon: [00:03:23] It’s like a movie. That’s how you would write up a movie. And if you did that, you know, people wouldn’t believe it. Cause it just seemed a little bit too cheesy. But. Not only that shot, but like the, the skills or the Laos, the layup, and then the steel from, from alone into hit.

That shot is just unbelievable. And the weird thing is, like, I, I actually, I missed his prime. You know, my, my most vivid memories are like the 96, 97, 98 we won’t talk, we won’t talk about the wizard years, but, um, you know, he was really past his prime at that point. So I didn’t see him at his best, but [00:04:00] I just.

I can’t ever put anybody above him.

Mike Klinzing: [00:04:03] His athletic best is just unbelievable from a, I think there’s never been anybody as ruthlessly competitive as him and just wanting to win at all costs, and obviously the documentary is going to be coming out hopefully sooner rather than later. I mean, I think, I think everybody in the basketball world, especially considering.

That we’re all sitting at home sheltering in place that when that documentary comes out, there’s just so many people just chomping at the bit to get their, get their eyes on that and see what it’s going to be all about. I can’t, I personally can’t wait. I’m so excited. I will be glued to the TV whenever that thing eventually comes on.

Cause I just think it’s going to be so compelling to see some of those behind the scenes stuff that you’ve, you know, you’ve read about, you’ve heard about there’s been things, but to put it all into one package and see it along with the visual. It’s just going to be, it’s going to be unbelievable.

Chad Hixon: [00:04:54] I agree.

Can’t wait.

Mike Klinzing: [00:04:56] I’m excited about, hopefully, I’m hoping they could dig into [00:05:00] the North Carolina part of his career. I know there’s some stuff in the trailer, just about when he went from being Mike Jordan to being Michael Jordan when he hit the shot as a freshman, and so I hope there’s some. Unseen behind the scenes footage there that hasn’t really been out and some things that are talked about there.

Cause I think it’s always interesting to kinda hear about the Genesis of anyone, let alone the Genesis of kind of the greatest player of all time. So I’m super excited about that and can’t wait for that to come to pass. So let’s go back to you and talk a little bit about how you went about as you were a kid.

How did you go about improving your game and get better? What were some of the things that you did during the time when you were like, let’s say a high school player? How did you go about improving it and getting better?

Chad Hixon: [00:05:43] Uh, great question. So, uh, I was fortunate enough, my very best friends were on, I had an older brother, uh, named, uh, Brendan , who we played at, uh, play at Vanderbilt and then, and then played at UNC Charlotte.

So I was able to, I grown up, like see some of the things that he did, [00:06:00] all the extra work he put in. So I just kind of tried to adopt some of those things coming up, you know, whether it was working on ball handling, uh, working on shooting, doing farm shooting and getting up game shots and those sorts of things.

Uh, flexibility was a huge thing that he always worked on that I didn’t see a lot of other people doing. So I tried to do that as well, kind of as I was growing up. Uh, so having him there, uh, at least when I was in like elementary school age as that example, uh, was very helpful. Yeah, and I’ll, once I got into high school, I work out with the team.

I work out with my teammates and things like that.

Mike Klinzing: [00:06:32] What if flexibility look like, I’m just curious where like what were some of the things that he did that you adopted.

Chad Hixon: [00:06:38] Well, he was probably the first, uh, male basketball player I ever saw. They could, they could do a split. Uh, I never quite got that flexible, but, um, you know, just seeing him, you know, not only stretch before physical activity, you know, just as a part of, uh, you know, working at be a better player.

You know, just sitting at home, he would be doing stretches, [00:07:00] you know, just trying to, just trying to improve his flexibility. And, you know, as, as a little kid, you know, I just, when something that. Well than I had ever thought of it as something that you can do to, to improve as a basketball player. So it’s just like little, little things like that.

I’m just working on those things and just trying to make yourself stand out from the crowd by doing those little things. Yeah, I

Mike Klinzing: [00:07:19] think it’s amazing when you think about the, I guess the advantages that kids have today in terms of access to. Knowledge about what is good for them, both from a basketball skill development standpoint and also from a nutrition training, conditioning, sleep recovery, all those things.

That’s

Chad Hixon: [00:07:38] so different now.

Mike Klinzing: [00:07:39] It’s just amazing. I think back to again, like when I played and I, we used to have, when I was playing at Kent state, we would practice the preseason. We would have these practices, uh, you know, we practiced all week and then Saturday morning we’d get up at 7:00 AM and we would have.

A like a, I don’t know, probably a one hour practice maybe. And then we do like a two hour inner squad scrimmage and then [00:08:00] when that scrimmage was over about 10 30 we wouldn’t have practice again until the following Monday cause we always had Sunday off. And literally we would go from right from that practice, people would shower, get dressed, and then we’d go to Ponderosa.

And we’d hit the buffet and just eat. I mean, we’d seriously sit there. That plays, I’m surprised it didn’t go bankrupt, just us. And we would sit there for two, three hours just drinking gallons of soda and eating chicken wings and macaroni and cheese and having a steak and all this stuff. And you think back now and you’re like, God, that was so bad for us.

And part of me wonders if I would’ve had access to some of the training and the knowledge that . Kids, players and teams and coaches have today just how different I might have been as an athlete. I think it’s just interesting to think about because there’s so much more access for kids to be able to understand what the right things are that they should be doing.

Not to say that everybody’s always doing them, but certainly you have access to it if you want it.

Chad Hixon: [00:08:55] Uh, like I said, there’s just so much more information out [00:09:00] now. We know more, we have more knowledge and. I say kid kids have access to that information, but like I said, everyone’s not doing it. The ones who do are the ones who obviously get better and stand out.

I one of those things, you know, if it was easy, everyone would do it. No question.

Mike Klinzing: [00:09:15] So as you were going through your high school career, at what point did you start to think that a, you wanted to maybe try to play basketball in college and then be, when did you think that that opportunity was going to be realistic?

Just talk a little bit about your process for. Going through your career as a high school player and then thinking about the college experience that you wanted to have.

Chad Hixon: [00:09:36] I just, so, plan cars mall was always the goal. Um, no, some, I’d say elementary school age. Um. When did I actually think it was gonna happen?

Uh, that, that, that is a long story. Um, so I actually, I had a pretty decent high school career and my, my, my senior year, I think I was like 16, four and four, uh, we went to the [00:10:00] state tournament, lost in the first round. Um, didn’t really have any opportunities, uh, play directly out of high school. Um. I talked to a couple of division three schools.

Um, but like even kids nowadays, I kind of shrug them off thinking that I was too good for it, or I, that was beneath me and so forth. Um, so what I actually did is my, I actually went to the university of West Georgia just as a regular student. My freshman year of college. I just play intramurals. Uh, but while I was there and I still wanted to play, so I just started doing some research and looking around.

Uh, trying to find some opportunities for me. Uh, I wanted to, uh, kind of a more challenging environment academically. So, uh, I did come across, uh, Oxford college of Emory university, which is a two year, uh, college within Emory university. Uh, reached out to their coaches, started that whole process, uh, you know, applied for admissions.

Uh, they told me I had to. No, get certain [00:11:00] grades and in particular classes. So I’ll study my butt off and try to get all A’s, and luckily I was able to get in and, uh, that’s how I ended up playing college basketball. Um, looking back on it, uh, with the knowledge I have now, you know, I wish I had done some things differently.

Number one, I wish I had worked a whole lot harder in high school academically. Uh, I graduated with a three, two, I easily could have had a three, six, three, seven. GPA, and that combined my sat scores just would’ve opened up a whole lot more opportunities for me. But I was just so singly focused on basketball, scholarship, basketball, scholarship, basketball, scholarship.

And when that didn’t materialize, uh, I had to figure out what else I was going to do. And luckily I was, I was at, like I said, I want to go to West Georgia for a year, and then everything eventually worked out for me.

Mike Klinzing: [00:11:48] So do you think when you look back on that time and you had some of those division threes that talked to you, and as you said, you kind of were like, Hey, you know, I dunno.

You know, I think I’m better than that. When you look back on that, do you [00:12:00] think that that initial contact you have with those coaches, and maybe your lack of enthusiasm, let’s say immediately turn those. Coaches those programs off where maybe if you had shown a little bit more interest that you might’ve had one of those opportunities, even with your situation where you know, you could have worked harder, you could have had a higher GPA.

Do you think if you had approached it differently from that standpoint, showing more interests that you might’ve been able to get a chance to go to one of those other schools that maybe had some interest in you when you were in high school?

Chad Hixon: [00:12:29] Absolutely. And I wasn’t, you know, dismissive or anything like that.

I just, you know, I, I didn’t know any better. Um, and I didn’t have anyone. You know, to kind of tell me the truth, uh, which is what I kind of tried to do with kids. Now. I didn’t have anybody, uh, in my ear or, or telling me that, uh, at the time. So, you know, uh, I was, I was ignorant just to be quite honest. Uh, I just, I didn’t know any better.

Um, looking back now, you know, 15 years later, you know, I definitely wish I had had done things differently. But [00:13:00] I think the main thing is that if I had had a higher GPA, you know, that would’ve had those opportunities more affordable and more realistic. For me. Uh, but again, you know, hindsight’s always 2020, so we live and we learn

Mike Klinzing: [00:13:12] for sure.

Do you think if you were the exact same person, exact same player, exact same GPA that you were then today, do you think it would be easier for you to get access to the kind of information that you might’ve needed to say, Hey. You need to step it up so that you can do the things maybe that you want to do.

Cause I know for myself, I look back at my recruitment and I had no knowledge of basically anything. My high school coach had never had anybody recruited. Obviously my parents, I was the oldest child in our family. They had never gone through that experience. I was a player, never had gone through that experience.

The whole summer basketball circuit didn’t exist. Basically, my dad. Was my coach and I was the GM of our summer team, and just recruiting guys is not at all like it was today where you know, you might have a mentor or somebody that works with you outside of your high school program. [00:14:00] So just like you, I was ignorant about what the process was and I think that that almost ended up costing me opportunities that.

Ended up one that I ended up taking, but I almost blew that opportunity by declining and official visit because I thought, Oh, I don’t want to go and visit Kent state. That’s, you know, that’s below me. I’m waiting for Duke and North Carolina and Ohio state to come calling and just like you, I had no idea that they weren’t going to be calling.

And so now I think kids have better access to information, kind of like the same way we talked about in terms of skill development and training kids who are willing to use. Those mentors that information look and find that I think can go in a better direction, but you still have to be able to go out and find it.

So do you think that if you had all that information, you, things might have turned out differently for you?

Chad Hixon: [00:14:49] Um, and just nowadays are just, there’s so much more, uh, so many more resources available. Uh, whether it’s, you know, these different recruiting services that are out there that can [00:15:00] assist kids. Um, social media has been a huge change.

I was in high school. I think a knowing thing we had was like my space. Um, and it’s just is so different now. And then, you know, uh, you know, I’ll play a game and, you know, it might be two or three weeks before I could get the film. And, you know, we were still using VHS nowadays, you know, kid plays a game, you know, 30 minutes after the games that are highlight tape.

So it’s just so different now. Um, I. I do think things have been different if I had access to the things that are available now. But I also say it is, I think there’s so many more good players now. I may not have been able to play at the same level now. Uh, just cause there’s just so much more talent out

Mike Klinzing: [00:15:42] there.

Yeah. There’s a lot of kids now. I think that the skill development portion of basketball is so much better. And I think if you look at. We’ve had this conversation with a bunch of coaches, but I think if you look at the back end of like a high school roster, especially those kids are way [00:16:00] more skilled than kids, might’ve been.

Certainly when I was playing and probably when you were playing as well. And I think that’s a trend in basketball that I don’t think there’s any argument about, I think you can argue. That some of those kids maybe don’t have as high of a basketball IQ as some of the kids in the past and certain cases because they’re just like, I think playing on the playground and playing with kids at different ages and some of those things in the amount of pickup ball that people from my era played.

I think that made a difference in terms of basketball IQ, but in terms of being better athletes and in terms of being better skilled, I don’t think there’s any question that. The skill level and the athleticism of players today is far superior to what it was. Certainly when I played, and probably as you said, you know, at the time when you played

Chad Hixon: [00:16:43] as well.

Yeah, I definitely agree. And I see kids doing things now that like, I didn’t even comprehend like to do that when I played for sure 15 years ago.

Mike Klinzing: [00:16:57] Exactly.

Chad Hixon: [00:16:58] I definitely agree that the [00:17:00] skill wise is so different, and I do think, as you were saying, there’s a less, there’s less of an emphasis on playing now.

It’s just everybody, you know, I have my trainer, I’m going to go work out and do individual stuff. There’s a lot less to them, to the three on three, five on five ms going on now, particularly on the playgrounds and things like that, as you said.

Mike Klinzing: [00:17:20] Yeah. You just don’t see, you don’t see playground out there basketball hardly at all being played anywhere and I know it’s not being played.

Around here in Cleveland very much. And as we talk to people around the country, we hear basically that same story that, you know, there was a park or a playground that I used to play at, or I used to drive by all the time. There’d always be players there and now I drive by it and there’s nobody there.

And I think, as you said, kids are with a trainer or they’re playing with their AAU team or they’re in a air conditioned gym somewhere. And they’re not out on the playground playing with kids at different ages and playing with adults and playing as much. Two on two and three on three and one on one, which I think about the amount of time that I spent doing [00:18:00] those things, and it certainly added up to far more time than what I did play an organized basketball where as today I think that equation is reversed.

And as I always say, there’s good and bad to both of those systems. I think you could make an argument that. Kids today are probably exposed to a lot better coaching, whether that’s in person coaching from the time they’re younger or whether that’s, again, just having access to what they have on the internet, and yet I still feel like they miss out on some of that.

Some of those tricks of the trade that you pick up as a pickup basketball player that you just don’t get when you’re always playing in front of a. A crowd where your mom or your dad are in the stands or somebody who’s watching you. I think you tend to kind of fall back on your strengths as opposed to maybe stretching yourself and trying to add different things to your game.

So there’s good and bad to the whole thing, but it’ll, I’m sure we’ll continue to talk about this as we get into what you’re doing now with the Atlanta lightening a little bit later on. Let’s talk to you about the biggest adjustment. When you finally did step onto a college floor, what was your biggest adjustment from a basketball [00:19:00] perspective?

If you can remember back to that time.

Chad Hixon: [00:19:03] Uh, these guys are just bigger, stronger, and faster, and the game moves so much quicker, uh, than the high school game. Oh, that, that’d probably be the biggest thing. You got to get shot off quicker. Uh, you gotta you gotta fight through screens. You got to get a box out every possession.

You got to run harder possession. If you don’t, uh, you’re going to get beat. Um, my coach always just say, you know, um, casual and gets you beat. You know, you can’t be the cool guy and you gotta be locked in focus the entire time. Just a lot, a lot of the details of the game, they get get emphasized much more the collegial level than they do in high school.

One cause you got more time to go into greater detail. And secondly, just cause you got to do those little things. Uh, if you going win, what

Mike Klinzing: [00:19:45] did the level of play, how did it compare. At the Oxford branch versus when you eventually got to the main campus at Emory with coach Zimmerman. Talk about the difference in maybe if there was a difference in the level of play there and just how that transition [00:20:00] ended up going for you.

Chad Hixon: [00:20:03] So when I was at orchard, uh, because it’s a two year school, uh, we would typically play, uh, junior colleges or, uh, for your, uh, JV programs. Uh, so when we were playing, uh, junior college programs in the state of Georgia, we’re, we’re playing folks that have, uh, you know, mid and high, major division one prospects on your team.

So athletically, uh, size wise, uh, I say it was more, uh, challenging or daunting at the Austra campus. Uh, when you get to the Emery, the Atlanta campus, uh, the coaching, I would say probably a little bit better. Got higher basketball IQ guys weren’t quite as athletic. Uh, they definitely knew how to play. Uh, that’s probably the biggest difference.

Um, I’d say, um, both challenging in, in their own, uh, separate ways.

Mike Klinzing: [00:20:53] Which one would you say if you had to, if you had to make the argument which style of play fit you better [00:21:00] as a player?

Chad Hixon: [00:21:03] We have, we have less talented officers, so there’s a lot of, a lot of ISO ball. We were still in that ISO ball, uh, era back then.

Uh, so for me, that was kind of the more, uh. Quote unquote, he’s signing way to play. Um, uh, Emory, we did a lot of, filed out motion, much more ball movement, uh, player movement, uh, played at a much faster pace, uh, as well. Um, that is kind of how I’ve grown to love watching basketball. A lot of it comes from my time playing on the cozy, uh, and then in subsequent coaching under him, I, in my opinion, I think that’s the way basketball should be played.

Um, that’s the way I like to see the game played and all the teams that I coach, uh, I tried to implement that same style. All

Mike Klinzing: [00:21:52] right. What was your favorite memory from, from playing at Emory? What was the, if one or two things that stand out to you when you look back on your playing [00:22:00] career as a collegiate player, what stands out to you as one of your fondest memories?

Chad Hixon: [00:22:06] So it was such a life changing experience for me. Um. I, my first time going to Chicago, my first time going to New York, Boston, Cleveland, temper, all those things were because of playing basketball, Emory university. So I’d probably say my first time going in New York, uh, we, we stayed right downtown, right across from the empire state building.

Like, you know, that’s something you see on TV all the time. But to just be right there around the corner from it would probably be my best non basketball. Memory, uh, basketball.

What’s

Mike Klinzing: [00:22:38] your first impression? What was it, what was your first impression of New York? Cause I went to New York for the first and actually only time.

When I was playing in college, we played in a tournament. So I’m curious to hear what your first impression was and then I’ll share mine.

Chad Hixon: [00:22:51] It was what is going on? I’ve been in Georgia my entire life. We move at a slower pace down here. Um, New York is the complete [00:23:00] opposite of that. I’ve never seen so many taxi cabs in my life.

Never seen so many people congregate together in one place at the same time. It was, it was just night and day from what I was used to growing up. Yeah.

Mike Klinzing: [00:23:13] I was amazed by the sheer number of people, and the thing that I always come back to is it felt like almost like the traffic lights and the walking and don’t walk.

Signs were irrelevant. It was just people, people, people, people, people, people, people walking through the crosswalk, and then, then when there was a break in there, a car would kind of nudge its way through the pedestrians. Then it’d be cars, cars, cars, cars, cars, cars, cars. Until there was a tiny little break in the cars, then the people would start going again.

I just remember it being. So, so crowd, it was so many people and as you said, just the, the energy and just the pace of people moving was just incredible to me. And like I said, I haven’t gotten a chance to go back definitely on my list of places that I want to get back to, but I can totally understand where that would be a memory [00:24:00] that stood out for you.

Cause it certainly was one that stood out for me as well. So give us your basketball memory.

Chad Hixon: [00:24:05] That’s for me would probably be my, my senior year. Um. My senior year at , coach Zimmerman’s first winning season there. Uh, we finished 15 and 10. Uh, I think we went seven and seven in the UAA. Um, they haven’t, I think he’s one less than 18 or 19 games since then.

So the program’s really taken off since then. Uh, it feels good to be. Just say that I was on that first winning team because the program had kind of been down for don’t really about 20 years, uh, prior to him getting there and, you know, he’s got the thing really rolling now. Um, but as somebody who was there kind of, when it got started to see where, where it is now, it’s just really amazing to see.

Yeah,

Mike Klinzing: [00:24:47] I agree. That’s very cool. I had a similar experience when I was at Kent. We had two seasons where we won 20 games. I went to the nit and we’re one point away from making the NCAA tournament my freshman year, and so the program [00:25:00] was solid, but certainly it wasn’t a great program. And then I graduated in 92 and then in 2002.

Kent went to the, went to the elite eight and was one game away from making it to the final four. And that whole experience for me, watching it as a fan, as an alumni of the program was kind of surreal because it was really hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that this program that I had played in that now they were one, you know, one game away from the final four.

And then there’s a sense of pride that has that. Program builds up and you’ve been a part of it and you’ve contributed in some small way to their success. I can totally understand where you’re coming from on that because you feel that connection even though you haven’t been there for 10 years or 15 years or 20 years, whatever it may be, you always still feel connected to that family back at your university when you play it.

I think there’s always a bond with obviously the guys you played with, but I think there’s also a bond with the kids who are currently a part of the program, the coaching staff, even if you’ve been gone for. Awhile and in your case, obviously [00:26:00] coaches ever is still there as well.

Chad Hixon: [00:26:02] Yeah, it definitely makes it easier.

Now your coach is still there. Um, no question. I, you and I talk fairly frequently. I try to check in on him. I go to as many games as I can, so I definitely still feel very connected to the school and to the program.

Mike Klinzing: [00:26:17] So while you’re playing. Was there when was there a thought that coaching was going to be in your future?

Was that something that you kind of always knew in the back of your head as you were growing up, or was it something that came suddenly when you got done playing? He looked around and he said, I want to still be involved in the game. How can I do that? Just which, which one of those paths better describes you.

Chad Hixon: [00:26:40] Uh, kinda, I seen neither, to be honest. So when I, when I graduated, I was like, forget this, I’m done with basketball. So I took off for about about three years or so. I mean, I still watched it and obviously still played a little bit as well. Um, came to Emory games and things like [00:27:00] that. Uh, dinner, right around like that third, fourth year, I started getting the itch.

Like, you know, I wanna, I need this to be a bigger part of my life. You know, it had been pretty much my life for, you know, 20 years, and I just wanted to really get back into it. I reached out to cozy to ask about, uh, coming on staff as a volunteer assistant. Uh, he said yes. Uh, very thankful for that. Uh. So I, I came on staff, uh, that gave me the opportunity to, uh, get back involved in the game, be involved with Emory, uh, obviously where I went to school and it’s just kind of gone up from there.

I was there for three years and then I started doing AAU as well as high school, so that, that bug, like I said, it started about three or four years after, after I graduated from, from Emory. And it’s just only gotten bigger and stronger since then.

Mike Klinzing: [00:27:53] So when you went back and you go back to your college program with your coach and obviously [00:28:00] your memories, your interactions with coach Zimmerman, up until that point is as a coach player relationship.

And now suddenly you go from being a player. The last time you interacted with them to now your a coach on his staff. Talk about what that was like in terms of. The relationship between the two of you and how you kind of navigated that going from, he’s my coach to now, he’s my coworker, still my boss, but we’re on a, you know, we’re on the same side of this equation.

Just talk about what that transition was like.

Chad Hixon: [00:28:33] So he, you know, uh, trying to have a special relationship from the standpoint. Um, he got the job at Emory, I think in April, 2007. I was still at Oxford at the time. I believe that very first week he got the job at the Atlanta campus. He came down to Archer to, to watch us work out.

So I’ve, I mean, I’ve known him for, we’re getting close to [00:29:00] 15 years now, so we’ve always had that relationship. Um, obviously as a player and coach, we bumped heads at times. It was mostly my fault looking back, this and dumb things as a college student, uh. No, looking back on it. Um, but I’m thankful for the experience and the opportunity he gave me as a player.

I’m thankful that I was able to get an Emory education. Um, I’ll never be able to repay him today. Uh, as far as in your transition to being a coach, it’s pretty much the same. He’s always going to be coached him into me. Um, he’s always coach. Um, I don’t know. I could never just, you know, call him Jason or anything like that.

He’s always going to be coach. Uh, so it was, it was a. Or really, really educational experience. I’m listening to him talk to the current players and kind of thinking back on time when I played a lot of those things that he said to me back then didn’t make sense. And now here I am, you know, four or five years older, you know, it starts to click and it [00:30:00] makes sense.

Okay, now I understand why he said that and now that makes sense. You know, looking at at the things from like kind of an outsider’s perspective as opposed to being, you know, kind of hitting the fire. Things made a whole lot more sense. So I was able to share some of those experiences that I had, uh, with the players on the team.

Um, you know, maybe someone, uh, and he, and a cozy, maybe bumping heads, you know, I can kind of talk to them about some of my experiences as a player to kind of help him navigate that situation and work through it. And just things like that. I was able to, you know, talk, talk about my, uh, my own personal experiences and share those things with players.

I think it was helpful. I hope it was, but only when we were very successful. I mean, my first year there, we went to the elite eight, uh, the next few years we went to the sweet 16. So, um, basketball was on the court. It was, it was, it was a great experience and I got to go, uh, dismissing totally tournament games.

I definitely didn’t get to do that as a player cause [00:31:00] we weren’t good enough. Um, so, um, I’m grateful for that experience. It was, it was life changing, just to be honest.

Mike Klinzing: [00:31:06] What were some things, so you mentioned that there were things that you were able to share with the current players while you were coaching that maybe helped to relate better what coach Russell was trying to say.

Can you think of. An example or two of something that, or a piece of advice that maybe he gave or some type of coaching that he gave you, that when you were playing, you’re like, ha, I don’t, I don’t really get what he’s saying, but then once you’re on the other side, can give us an example of something that would kind of fit

Chad Hixon: [00:31:31] that.

Oh, absolutely. I got, I got multiple examples. Um, the, uh, the main thing, uh, I would say is, and we hear this in other areas of life as well, is sometimes you have to listen to what someone’s saying versus how they’re saying it. So, uh, you know, coach may be getting on your yelling at you about something. Um, that’s just cause he’s a passionate dude.

That’s just who he is. You know, don’t, don’t focus on that. Focus on what he’s telling you. He’s telling you you need to run harder. You need to get your spot on [00:32:00] time. You need to be ready to shoot when you catch it. You know, things like that. Um, that as a, as a, you know, 18, 19, 20 year old, you may not be able to grasp, but, you know, as a 25 year old, you know, stuff like that makes more sense.

Um, from a basketball perspective, that’s biggest thing is the importance of going game speed at all times. You know, if you’re in, you know, I hear a lot of kids talking about you. I was in a jam for three hours, three and a half hours, you know, working out well, you weren’t going hard for those three hours cause it’s not possible for you to work out and go as hard as you possibly can for three hours.

Uh, you know, you can get all that done in 45 minutes if you’re going hard and going game speed. That’d be the biggest thing. Um,

Mike Klinzing: [00:32:42] I’ve got a great story for that, Chad. I got a great story. I have not told this story on the podcast, but I used to go and work out at this health club and I would go and I had my shooting workout that I would do and kind of, it’s funny, I’ve said this part of it on the podcast before where I would do the exact same shooting work, [00:33:00] and if I was by myself, I did the exact same drills every single day, probably from the time I was 16 until I was.

Graduated from college, exact same workout, but that workout had game speed shots and it would probably take me about an hour and 15 minutes or so. And there was another guy who was my age, went to a different high school in the area and he would always be up at the same health club. And I’d come in, I’d be doing my workout, and I talked to him either before.

Or after my workout, just, you know, saying hello and he would always tell me, man, I’ve been here for three hours working so hard, and I, and I’d see him, he’d be like, I’d be in the gym for like an hour and whatever, 15 minutes, hour and 20 minutes. Just sweating, doing all my stuff. And I’d see him and he’d walk over and he’d be talking to somebody over by the exercise bicycles, and then he’d sit down on the floor and, you know, like do some butterfly stretches.

And then he’d get up and take some free throws. And then, you know, it just, and I always used to laugh because I would say, you know, he’s like, Oh, I’ve been here this long. And I’m like, well, I’ve been here an hour and 20 [00:34:00] minutes. I’ve done like 10 times as much as you have in this time that you ha, you know, that you’ve been, I think a lot of times, as you said.

Kids don’t always understand what it takes, and it takes somebody, whether it’s a coach or a peer or somebody to kind of get that message across to him like, look, it’s not the amount of time you spend. It’s the amount of effort that you’re putting into that time that really makes a difference. I think that’s a, that’s a key point for sure, that if you were able to get that across to the players, I’m sure that that’s something that they appreciate it.

Again, maybe not in the moment, and I’m sure coach Zimmerman appreciated it too.

Chad Hixon: [00:34:32] Yeah. Um, you said that just things you don’t understand as, as a 19 year old, you know, they make more sense as you get older. Uh, another thing he used to always say, I, I think he still says it is, uh, when you help somebody, you help yourself.

Um, I think that applies to basketball as well as like, um, you know, from a basketball standpoint, you know, if you set a good stream that’s more likely going to get you open. You know, if you run hard to your spot, you know the defense has to react. They may get a you and open [00:35:00] shot, or you can get your team and your open shot, you know, things like that.

That again, didn’t make sense when I was playing, but now that I’m older and I watched the game, I see it from a different perspective. I can see how all five players are working together, and if one person doesn’t do their job, then it just throws everything off. But if all five guys are locked in and doing what they’re supposed to do.

Uh, I just mentioned them were difficult to guard.

Mike Klinzing: [00:35:25] Don’t you wish you could insert your current brain into your 19 year old self?

Chad Hixon: [00:35:29] Oh man, I do. Well, I go back to high school and study harder. Yeah, that’s what I would do.

Mike Klinzing: [00:35:36] Yeah. Understood. All right, so let me ask you this, since you went from going from a player to a coach, what was something about coaching, and maybe you could be specific to Emory, or maybe not, but just something.

That surprised you about coaching that before you got into it, you didn’t realize, but once you were a part of the coaching staff that you’re like, man, I didn’t [00:36:00] realize coaches did so much of this, or I didn’t realize they had to do that, or I didn’t realize that this was such a hard part of the job. Can you think of anything that fits that particular criteria?

Chad Hixon: [00:36:09] Oh yeah, absolutely.

Almost in a vacuum or insulated, you don’t, you don’t understand all the other moving parts within the program. Um, so, you know, as a player, you know, I’m told, you know, we have practice at two o’clock, you know, get to the gym, you know, one, one 15, uh, get changed all that, be on the court one 30 or so, so we can get warmed up.

Well, you know, we’re practicing to coach has been, there’s probably since like 10, you know, uh, going over the practice plan, walking through everything. Assigning different duties, uh, to each of the assistants on staff. Um, you know, things like that. You just know as a player, you know, you just show up to practice, which you don’t think about all the planning that has gone into each practice.

Uh, game prep, you know, all those kinds of things. A [00:37:00] laundry for instance. Another thing you don’t, you don’t think about, uh, as a player, you know, you just come in, you’re in your jerseys hanging up. You don’t think about, you know, an individual or a person had to, uh, you know, wash that in folded and hang it up for you and things like that.

You go on the road, uh, you know, you just know you go to the restaurant and sit down and eat. You don’t think about all the planning that had to go into logistics and things like that. Uh, hotels, same thing. Uh, you know, a kosher says, you know, come up to the room. We got some snacks and things like that for you.

Well, you don’t think about the fact that, you know, one of your coaches had to go to, you know, Sam’s club or somewhere like that and buy all that stuff and carry it back to the hotel, which is all those moving parts within a basketball program that, that, that exists outside of, you know, actually being on the basketball court.

Yeah.

Mike Klinzing: [00:37:49] I think that’s a great point. I think players so often. Only see what the coaches do on the basketball floor, whether that’s the practice floor or whether that’s on [00:38:00] game night and they don’t see all of the little things that go on behind the scenes. And I think you hit it very well, especially when you’re talking about whether it’s the junior college level or division three level or an AI level where you don’t have a huge number of assistant coaches.

But all those assistant coaches and they, even the head coach has to wear lots and lots of different hats to be able to do all those things, whether it’s administrative, logistical, transportation, all that stuff. I think you forget or you don’t even realize as a player. That that stuff still has to be done, and as you move up in levels, then there’s just more coaches available to do all those things.

Not that they don’t have to get done, but there’s just a bigger staff that can, that can go ahead and get it done. I’m sure we’ve talked to a bunch of coaches who have started at, you know, whether it’s the junior college level or division three level that just talk about how even if they eventually moved up to other levels, how much they appreciated their experience at the lower levels of college basketball, simply because.

They had to do [00:39:00] everything, and in having to do everything, they learned what it takes to do those different jobs. And then when they got to a position where they, maybe their responsibilities were cut down and they only had to focus on certain areas, they were even better and stronger in those areas because they already had experience doing those things.

And I think that’s something that young coaches especially. Need to keep in mind as you’re trying to break into the business. I think your story is a great one in that you know, here you just volunteered as a member of the staff, and I think so many people hear those stories of young coaches who. Get started.

And so often the story is, Hey, I volunteered, or Hey, I was a graduate assistant and I was making $2,000 for the year, and I was living in some house in somebody’s basement in a room. And people see a lot of the glamour of coaching, but they don’t always think about the persistence and the effort that it takes, especially when you’re trying to break into it for the first time.

And I think your story is a good illustration of that.

Chad Hixon: [00:39:55] Yeah, I mean, I was actually fortunate to where I was still working full time and I was [00:40:00] just kinda of coaching after I got out of my nine to five. Um, as you mentioned, like I, I know coaches who were doing that full time and you’re making a very, very small amount of money, um, a wage in that many of us would consider, uh, not livable.

Um, so yeah, it’s, it’s definitely something that if you want to get into it, you’ve got to love it and you don’t have to grind and pay your dues and whatnot, but I do think it’s worth it in the end. You just gotta you gotta work your way through it and grind and, and, uh, eventually everything will work out for you.

Mike Klinzing: [00:40:33] Absolutely. All right. So you leave Emory and you get an opportunity to. Coach, uh, as an assistant at a couple of different high schools. Talk about the why behind that and then just what your experiences were like at the high school level compared to the college level.

Chad Hixon: [00:40:47] Uh, love my time at Emory. Um, but, uh, I just, my passion is, uh, in education and in [00:41:00] helping young people make that transition from high school to college.

So I felt that I could best, uh, fulfill and kind of work, work in my passion, uh, by my coaching at the high school level, uh, doing that and helping high school kids, you know, find the best fit for them, uh, from a college basketball standpoint. So, uh, the transition was pretty smooth. Um, I obviously going from college to high school, uh, the talent level drops a little bit.

Um, you don’t have quite as much time to work with kids, but I. Loved, loved my two years at Lakeside. Uh, loved my one year at Grady. Um, took this year off. But I am looking to, to get back into it, uh, either next year or sometime in the future. Cause it’s really what I’m passionate about. I love doing, I love working with kids and helping them figure out whether, whether the next step is.

And

Mike Klinzing: [00:41:55] then when does the, the air, you Atlanta lightening piece of that come to [00:42:00] pass, is that something that you took up while you were still coaching at the high school level or was that something that you picked up once you left the high school ranks? This year

Chad Hixon: [00:42:09] will be my, my, or this if it ever gets started.

Uh, this will be my fourth year with the Atlanta lightning. Um, I started with them my second year. Um, at Lakeside as I was transitioning from my first to second year at Lakeside, um, I was able to, um, I came across one of the assistant coaches I knew via Twitter, uh, and I went, uh, Washington practice and, uh, they allow me to come on staff as an assistant with the 17 U team that first year.

And in the following year, uh, I was a 17 new head coach and then I coached again as a 17 year head coach last year. And then this upcoming year would have been my third as a head coach.

Mike Klinzing: [00:42:57] Talk to me a little bit about what you would see since [00:43:00] you’ve been on both sides of this equation. You have the high school perspective and you have the AAU perspective.

Tell me what your ideal scenario would be in terms of the relationship between the AAU program that a player plays for. The player themselves and then their high school coaching staff, what would that ideal relationship look like in your mind?

Chad Hixon: [00:43:24] Well, ideally it’s a coaches will be working together for the, the benefit of the kid.

Unfortunately, that does not happen in a lot of situations. Um, and there are, there are a lot of different reasons for that. Um. I living where I live in Atlanta, Georgia. Um, I would say that in a lot of instances, there’s, there are some high school coaches and AAU coaches that have strong relationships and others that maybe don’t have a strong relationship.

Uh, that’s unfortunate. It also means just things I’ve heard in the kid. Um, it should be about [00:44:00] helping him or her. Uh, find what’s best, uh, for their them and their family. Um, unfortunately, uh, our ego gets in the way at times and they can have a negative impact. All

Mike Klinzing: [00:44:11] right, so let me ask you this. Let’s put on, let’s first put on your high school coaches hat.

If you’re a high school coach, what are some things that you can be doing to help the player and their AAU coach get the most out of. The AAU you experience if you’re the high school coach, what are you looking for from an AAU program? If I’m a high school coach and I want to send my player somewhere, what am I looking for?

Chad Hixon: [00:44:37] Yeah, so I always advise parents to look for a couple of things. One, you want to look for a program that’s, that’s playing the right schedule. Uh, what I mean by that is, are they playing during NCAA live here weekends? Um, what tournaments are they playing in during those weekends as well? Does that, does that coach have any sort of relationship with college coaches or is there [00:45:00] going to be any, uh, significant skill development, uh, going on with the program?

I know if I send my kid to a program, I want him to come back as a better player, uh, than then I many he was when I, when I, uh, sent him to you. Those are kind of the big things that I, that I would say, uh, coaches should look at. Um, the way that the NCAA has done now. Then when they added that, that, uh, June evaluation period, um, there’s more opportunities now for high school coaches to kind of get more involved in the recruiting process during the summer.

So, um, that makes it even more important that the two be working together because the players going to be with their AAU coach in April, I’m sorry, March and April, and sometimes may as well. And they go to their high school coach or June, but then they’re going back to their AAU coach in July. So those two guys aren’t on the same page, then it’s not have a negative impact on the kid.

100%

Mike Klinzing: [00:45:52] absolutely. So then conversely, if I’m an AAU program, what am I hoping? What am I [00:46:00] wishing for that high school coach too? Provide to me in terms of the relationship, in terms of what I’m looking for going the other direction and a U program that has strong ties with a high school coach. What, how does that relationship work if it’s working out to the benefit of the kid from the AAU programs perspective?

Chad Hixon: [00:46:21] Yeah, so I think one really important thing is, uh, for kids to have film, like I’ve talked to so many kids who they don’t have. Uh, access to like high school film. So, uh, it’s going to be really difficult for me to market U2 a coach if I don’t have any films showing, if I, it’s probably impossible to do so.

So, uh, in a perfect world, high school coaches will be filming their games and making that film readily available to their players. Um, also having, uh, you know, their, their GPA, uh, access to their transcript, having all that stuff readily available so that. If a coach does reach [00:47:00] out and ask for those things that I can get them.

Um, you know, I talked to a lot of kids, you know, you ask a kid what his GPA is and you know, he looks at you like, has no idea what you’re talking about. Or, uh, you know, have you, have you signed up to take the sat act and they don’t know what either of those two things are. That’s a problem. Uh, as a high school coach, I, I would hope that that’s something that they’re pushing, you know, making sure their, their student athletes are taking the tests that they need to take.

If they want to play in college. Know a lot of schools are going test optional, but you know, they need to take the act or the sat and they need to do it before their senior year. They definitely need to do it for the spring of their senior year. Um, nother thing is faster. Yeah. I talked to even more kids who don’t know what FAFSA is.

You know, if I’m a high school coach, I’m going to be emphasizing that all my players complete their FAFSA becomes available October 1st no, it should be done, you know, no later than Christmas. [00:48:00] No. Again, I talked to the students in April and may, and they haven’t done their faster, but they’re saying they want to play in college.

Well, you know, that’s great, but the school is not gonna be able to give you a financial aid package. Uh, until you do your FAFSA. And it’s not just about basketball related. This is just in general. Even if you don’t like basketball and you, you just want to go to college, you know, you need to complete that.

And you know, if you don’t, that’s gonna it’s gonna have a huge impact on how much it costs for you to 10.

Mike Klinzing: [00:48:28] Absolutely. So clearly, and I don’t think this is a surprise to anybody who’s out there, or maybe it is, but there is clearly a gap in. The knowledge that kids and some coaches have. So can you talk a little bit about what you personally are doing through your a you program, through what you do on a daily basis, whether it’s through social media, through your contact with kids?

Just talk a little bit about what you’re doing to try to bridge that gap. You’ve talked about how education and basketball, the crossroads of those two is, where your [00:49:00] passion lies. So talk a little bit about what you’re trying to do just on a personal level to try to. Improve that situation so that less kids miss out on opportunities?

Chad Hixon: [00:49:11] Yes, absolutely. Um, the biggest thing I see is, Mmm, there’s, there’s a lack of honest evaluation. So a lot of kids are being told that, you know, that they’re there a certain level that they’re not. And that ultimately negatively impacts their recruitment. Similar to where I was talking about, you know, myself, when I was coming out of high school, you know, I mean, like most kids nowadays, I thought I was division one.

I wasn’t clearly, uh, so, um, when, when I, when I, now division school approaches me, you know, I’m not gonna, I’m not going to take insurance then because I’ve been told or I’ve burned my, my head. I believe that’s beneath me. Uh, so [00:50:00] what my goal is to, um. Educate a young men and women to focus on finding the best fit from an academic, athletic, financial, and a social standpoint.

Uh, and, and to not focus on the level of the school. Um, if you’re, if you’re a division one player, then you’re going to have division one schools recruiting you and offering you scholarships. You know, if it’s may of your senior year and you’ve never spoken to a division one coach, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be offered a division one scholarship.

Um, and just, you know, people are afraid to have those uncomfortable conversations for whatever reason. Um, I’m not, I, I’m, I’m perfectly comfortable doing so cause it’s coming from a good place. I’m just trying to help kids. Um, my real passion is helping, helping kids that are low income, so Pell eligible kids.

I’m working with them to help them find affordable college options. Um, you think I’ll play basketball? Great. If not, that’s your rate as well. [00:51:00] The main thing is we want them to be in school because we know, um, looking at the data, your lifetime earnings are significantly higher if you have a college degree versus just having a high school diploma.

So as many kids as we can get into school as possible, that that’s ultimately our goal. Not only get to school, but, but ultimately graduate and move on to gainful employment.

Mike Klinzing: [00:51:24] So what platforms are you just share how people, how are you reaching kids through the AAU program, through your social media, through conversations with parents?

What’s your methodology for getting that information out to players? Are you meeting with high school coaches and having that conversation with them? Just talk about the process of how you’re sharing. The things that you just shared with us, how are you getting that into the hands of the players and parents that need that information to be able to make these decisions?

They have an impact on their life.

Chad Hixon: [00:51:57] So right now I can do it through my [00:52:00] AAU program, but I mean, that’s obviously limited because we typically have, you know, more than 10 to 12 players on a team. So I’m in constant contact with those guys. They probably taught him, texting him all the time. I believe that you get your, you got your transcript, you know.

No, I’ll send them a school, Hey, look up this school research. Okay, it’s good. Uh, you know, do the questionnaire, you know, let’s work on getting an email, send to the coach, you know, all those kinds of things. Um, so that’s, I mean, I do that all day while I’m at work. I should probably be doing my work, but

Mike Klinzing: [00:52:32] we won’t share.

Chad Hixon: [00:52:34] Um, but the, probably the biggest way I get information out is via Twitter. Um. I was late to the game, getting on Twitter. I just got on Twitter, I think in like October, 2016. I had just avoided doing it for so long. I don’t know why I love Twitter now. I’m probably the only way too much. Uh, but now I, I, some people probably say I rant, but I, um, you know, whatever comes to my head or is on my heart and [00:53:00] I feel like sharing, you know, I put it out.

Um, I do, I do on occasion just reach out to directly to kids and see what, what kind of assistance I can offer. ’em. My focus is on helping kids. Um, I think I’ve been fairly successful in that I could probably do more. I’m working to do more. That’s the ultimate goal. Um, but, uh, I’m, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve been able to do thus far.

I’m hoping to keep doing it and take it to another level. Yeah.

Mike Klinzing: [00:53:28] I think that the big message that I see that you’re always putting out there is just the idea that. The level of basketball, and as you said a minute ago, the level of basketball ultimately isn’t what’s most important. It’s that you find the correct fit.

And too often, I think we see kids who, they get this one track mind. They only want to play division one basketball. In many cases, they’re not division one basketball players, and unfortunately they haven’t [00:54:00] had people. Tell them the truth about what level they can play. Because too often, as we know, whether it’s a trainer or it’s an AAU coach or whatever, those people are incentivized to tell the parents and the player what they want to hear so that they keep coming back and keep paying the trainer or the AAU program.

And that’s a situation that is difficult. It’s a difficult one to overcome. But we do see that, and I think you do a great job of being able to send out the message that, Hey, there’s more than just division one basketball out there, and we’ve had. A bunch of division three coaches on here, and I’m amazed by the number of guys that we started out.

They kind of shared this just without prompting. And then now I typically try to ask the question to any division three coach or coach that’s not a division one coach that we’ve had on is, you know, when they’re recruiting players and they ask, Hey, if you ever gone and watched the division three basketball game to see how good the players are.

And almost 80% of the time or so, the coaches say, add the players and their parents said, no, we’ve never even been to a division three game. [00:55:00] And to me that’s kind of amazing that if you’re being recruited at that level, and as you said, if you’re, if you think you’re a division one player and you haven’t heard from any division one coaches, you probably want to reset your sights on something that makes a little bit more sense.

But the fact that you’re being recruited by a level of program that you’ve never even gone and watched a game at that level, it’s kind of amazing to

Chad Hixon: [00:55:20] me. Yeah. Um, you really, uh, touched on something that is a really good point. Um, and I’ve, I’ve, I’ve said this to some people before. Um, I, if I, um, telling the truth is not a very, uh, profitable business in use athletics.

Um, you know, you get labeled a hater or, you know, dream killer, you know, all that kind of stuff. Um. But you know, selling dreams is very profitable and a lot of people make a significant amount of money doing so. Um, I’m, I’m just, that’s just never been what I believe in or my [00:56:00] style. Um, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Like there’s literally every level of college basketball within driving distance. We got a high major division one mid measure, division one low major division one. We’ve got division two, we have HBCU division twos, there’s NAI Juko, there’s division three. There’s NCCA programs all within driving distance.

So there’s no reason that a kid in the Metro Atlanta area shouldn’t be exposed to all those levels. Now, are they gonna, you know, take the initiative to. To do that, I don’t know, but I don’t necessarily put that on the kids. That’s more showing us as adults because they modeled the behavior and the things that we emphasize.

So if we’re, if we’re, we as a basketball community society is D one D one D one in the course. That’s what they’re gonna, they’re gonna focus on and they’re gonna look down on other levels. So, um, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t blame kids for, I think adults are the problem. Um, and again, I’m just speaking from my [00:57:00] own personal experience cause I was the same way.

When I was in high school, I just didn’t know any better. Uh, and I didn’t really know any better until I actually went and visited a division three school and could barely keep up with those guys. Um, and you know, that was kind of life life changed for me as well. You know, it kind of opened my eyes. A lot of kids don’t get that opportunity.

Some kids live in areas where there are no division three programs, so they don’t have any exposure to it. So I can’t be, I can’t blame them for not knowing anything about it. It’s just they have been exposed to it. So as adults, you know, again, it’s on us to, to share as much information, shares much accurate and correct information with them so they can make informed decisions.

Mike Klinzing: [00:57:45] I think the truth telling and putting the onus on the adult, whether that’s, again, it could be a parent, could be an AAU coach, could be a high school coach. But you have to be able to have those difficult conversations with kids and families about [00:58:00] where your level is. And I think that you’ve said it a couple times, but I think it’s a great point that the, the schools that are recruiting you, whatever level they are, that’s a pretty good indication of where coaches think your talent is.

Now, that’s not to say that a division three coach doesn’t occasionally coat, you know, recruit a player who may be a borderline. Player at a division two or even a division one player, but more often than not, if you’re being recruited by 25 division threes and you have one division two, chances are your best chance for a successful career is probably going to be at the division three level.

Not to say that you couldn’t take a chance and try it out at that division two school, but more than likely. Where you’re being recruited is, is probably where you belong. And then as you’ve said, you want to find the right fit and the fit is more than just the fit on the basketball program because ultimately you should be a student first, and your [00:59:00] academics is going to carry you a lot further in your life.

And then you also have the social piece of it as well to make sure that you fit in on the campus and with, you know, whatever major you’re looking to have and all that kind of thing that fits into it. And so many times. And I think you’ve said it, and I said it too, when you’re 15 1617 years old, you’re not necessarily thinking about any of those things.

You’re thinking about strictly the basketball piece of it. And it’s up to us as adults to be able to help educate kids and tell them the truth and help them find the right fit so that ultimately they have a great four year career, both academically and athletically. And then they get done and they graduate.

And even if you’re a division one player, your odds of. Playing your sport professionally are infinitesimal, and it’s time then to get out into the real world and do something, and if you’re been in the right place and you’ve gotten taken care of your academics, you’re going to be in a much stronger position when you graduate to be able to have a successful life, which is ultimately for all of us who are in coaching.

That’s the ultimate measure of our success, is what our players end up [01:00:00] doing after they leave us. And hopefully the impact that we’ve made on them makes a difference in their life in the long term.

Chad Hixon: [01:00:07] Absolutely. I’m kind of piggy backing off something you said, um, as a division three level, any, all the elite high level division three programs are elite and good because they get scholarship level players.

So if you get like a division to the programs and when a division two loads, cause I get division one players. So if I’m in a division three I’m going to recruit guys that I think are scholarship level players. So. Players shouldn’t take it as an insole is if Emory’s recruiting them, like you gotta be really good to play an Emory, um, much better than when I was there because the players they had there now, I could not have played their good  on a different level.

Mike Klinzing: [01:00:51] I had an opportunity, as I told you, I had an opportunity to go and watch them play case when they came up to Cleveland this year, and it was a. It was an entertaining game. I don’t think coach Zimmerman thought it was their best [01:01:00] game. Clearly as they lost that one,

Chad Hixon: [01:01:01] and

Mike Klinzing: [01:01:02] he was, he was, he was disappointed, but you could, it doesn’t take much to be able to watch a team and know that they’re well coached and that they have talented players.

And certainly that was the case with Emory this year for sure.

Chad Hixon: [01:01:13] They have, which you, you probably know a man, I think he was first team all state and Ohio. Absolutely senior. And you know, he’s playing an Emory doesn’t even start. And he’s, he plays at Emory in division three at the division three level. And you know, you got kids who, you know, play JV, you know, half their senior year who think that they’re above division three.

So it’s just, again, I, I don’t put it on kids as adults. We have to expose them to all the different opportunities available to them. And I say this all the time, you can have an amazing experience at the division three level. Um. I played it. I said, play the Emory. It was in the UAA, you know, our conference games are at NYU, Brandeis, which is in Boston, Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, case Western in Cleveland, [01:02:00] Washington, st Louis, um, Chicago, university of Chicago.

And, uh, Rochester. You know, we fly to all conference games, like you’re not going to do that. You don’t do that. A lot of division one levels

Mike Klinzing: [01:02:12] trust, trust me, I wrote on a lot of buses, man.

Chad Hixon: [01:02:15] Like you get to literally fly to your conference games. You can find to some of the biggest cities in the country.

Granted, it’s wintertime, so it’s the weather’s miserable, but. Um, you can’t just can’t beat that experience, especially, you know, except for me, I had never been to any of those cities before. It was, you know, there’s great opportunities, uh, are available to you if you take care of business in the classroom and as well as on the court as well.

You just can’t, you can’t beat it. Um, it’s good level basketball. If you want to play pro afterwards, you can do that as well. I played with and against multiple guys that went on to play professional basketball. Uh, overseas, um, who played division three basketball. So, um, it’s just to me, I’m a big D three [01:03:00] guy.

I’ve got probably been kind of labeled that and that’s my mom. A little niche. But, you know, I, I’m OK with that. Cause I think it’s, it’s not for everybody, but for the right person, right. Kid, it can be a great opportunity.

Mike Klinzing: [01:03:14] And I think, again, I think to me when it comes down to is if you find the right fit and you find the right basketball program, you find the right school, you find the right academics, you can have a great experience.

And as you said, nowadays with the explosion of overseas basketball, if you’re good enough, it’s kind of like on the high school level. If you’re good enough, people are eventually, I think gonna find you. And I think the pros is the same way. If you’re good enough to be able to play pro basketball. Some are overseas, you’re going to have an opportunity to do that because there’s just a proliferation of opportunities to do it, and you don’t have to come out of a division one program in order to be able to play professional basketball.

If. That’s something that you want to do. Those opportunities are going to be there, and if you chosen [01:04:00] correctly, you’re going to end up with a great academic standing and you’re going to end up with an opportunity to get out of school and get a great job and get your life and careers started off the way that we all as coaches hope that kids get it started so that they can have a successful life.

As I said, that somehow, somewhere along the way, there was an adult, whether it’s a coach or a mentor or a parent that. Shared with those kids, shared their life and tried to help them improve and get better, and ultimately that’s going to lead to success down the road for, for every kid. Chad, before we wrap up here, I want to give you a chance to share how people can reach out to you, how they can find out more about what you’re doing.

Obviously, share your Twitter because I know that’s where you put out a lot of your content and information for kids, so please share that and then if there’s anything that we didn’t touch on tonight or if you just want to leave us with one. Final parting thought before we go, you can do that. Then I’ll jump back in and wrap up the episode.

Chad Hixon: [01:04:54] Sure. Uh, so my Twitter handle is coach Hixon dons. That’s C. O, a. [01:05:00] C H. H. I. X. O. N. D. I. M. E. S. a. So that’s where I pulled out the majority of my content and information. Um, please follow ’em again. Um, I’m in it for the kids and just trying to help as many kids as possible. Um. I would just say, uh, for, for, for everyone going through that recruiting process, just keep an open mind, be open to each and every opportunity that’s presented to you.

Um, don’t get caught up on sticker prices. A lot of times I speak with students and their families and they go on a website and see how much the school costs and that scares them away. Go through the process, uh, you know, get your financial aid award letter, and then make your decision based off that. Uh, just, just go through the process.

And once you have all the information, then you can make an educated, informed decision, but don’t do so beforehand. Love

Mike Klinzing: [01:05:51] it. That’s great advice. A great one to end on. Chad, we can’t thank you enough for spending an hour or so with us tonight. It’s been a pleasure to walk through and hear your story and then [01:06:00] also.

Just be able to talk to you about the impact that you’re having on young people that you come in contact with through basketball and pushing education, which we clearly know is going to be the thing that’s going to ultimately impact a kid’s longterm success. So we appreciate you jumping on with us tonight and to everyone out there, we will catch you on our next episode.Thanks.

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