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Frank Ross is in his seventh season with the Washington Wizards and his third as Vice President of College Personnel. He spent his first two seasons with the team as Director of Player Personnel.
Ross served six seasons as Director of East Coast Scouting for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Prior to joining the Thunder organization, Ross served as a scout with the Charlotte Bobcats from 2003-07, evaluating college and minor league player talent.Ross joined the Bobcats after two seasons as the lead assistant coach with the University at Albany (NY).
Prior to joining the collegiate coaching ranks, Ross was a five-year veteran of the Arlington County Police Department in Northern Virginia.
A fifth-round draft choice (108th pick) by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1987 NBA Draft, Ross also participated in free agent camp for the Washington Bullets prior to the 1988 NBA season and played professionally in the Continental Basketball Association with the Sioux Falls Skyforce and in Germany with TTL Bamberg.
Ross attended American University in Washington D.C., where he was a two-time All-Colonial Athletic Association selection and continues to rank in the top-10 in 12 statistical categories, including fourth all-time in career scoring with 1,921 points. Ross was inducted into American University’s Hall of Fame in 2007.
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What We Discuss with Frank Ross
- Being introduced to basketball at the Silver Hill Boys Club in Washington DC at 11 years old
- Getting cut from his 8th grade team and then missing out on his 9th grade year when sports were cut in PG County.
- Learning to play the game by actually playing rather than doing drill work like players do today
- Watching older players and trying to mimic what they did at the playground
- The adjustments you had to make to your game when playing ball outside
- Playing JV as both a 10th and 11th grader and how that motivated him heading into his senior year
- Attending the Capital Classic Basketball Camp and having the goal of becoming a Division 1 player
- The story of how he earned a scholarship to American University
- Getting a handle on everything he needed to do on and off the floor to have success as a student athlete
- The connection between discipline on the court and in the classroom
- Beating GW his freshman year at American
- Being drafted by the Philadelphia 76’ers, attending training camp, and getting cut a few games before the regular season
- His journey to the CBA and Germany and finishing his playing career at age 26
- His decision to go into law enforcement after his playing career ended
- Becoming an avid runner to get away from the game of basketball
- His experiences and stories from his days as a police officer
- Becoming an entrepreneur with Rainbow Vacuum
- The itch to return to basketball after 10 years away
- His first coaching job at Marymount College in Arlington, Virginia, one that offered no pay
- His next opportunity at the University of Albany in upstate New York.
- Realizing how much preparation and non basketball related activities go into coaching
- His college coach Ed Tapscott and Kenny “Egg Man” Williamson hiring him as a scout for the Charlotte Bobcats
- “Treat people with respect and don’t change who you are.”
- “Are you willing to do what I did to get here?”
- When you’re at the game as a scout, watch the game
- Working for the Sonics/Thunder when they drafted KD, Westbrook, Harden, & Steven Adams
- The influence of analytics as another tool in the toolbox
- “If you’re not willing to learn, then you don’t grow.”
- “Do the numbers line up with the eyes?”
- Rebounding is a skill that generally translates from college to the NBA
- “In play-off basketball the ball’s going to find the guy that can’t shoot”
- Threes used to be created by a dominant big being doubled, now they are created with spacing
- In his job with the Wizards he’s typically on the road 15-18 days per month
- Spending his time at home watching live games during the season to see players
- What a typical draft interview/workout looks like
- Being out of shape can be one of the most disappointing things about a player’s workout
- Work ethic is a key to long term success
- Being away from the game led him to appreciate it even more today
- “This is what I do, not who I am.”
- Don’t be defined by the logo on your shirt
- Trying to win a championship with the Wizards
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THANKS, FRANK ROSS
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TRANSCRIPT FOR FRANK ROSS – WASHINGTON WIZARDS’ VICE PRESIDENT OF COLLEGE PERSONNEL – EPISODE 397
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host Jason Sunkle. And tonight we are pleased to welcome to the podcast from the Washington Wizards, Vice President of College Personnel, Frank Ross, Frank, welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast.
Frank Ross: [00:00:15] Thanks Mike. I appreciate you and Jason having me on.
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:19] Absolutely. We are thrilled to be able to have you on and talk about the diverse experiences that you’ve been able to have in the game of basketball and in your life in general, I want to start by going back in time to when you were a kid, tell us a little bit about some of your first experiences with the game of basketball, maybe how you got introduced to it, and what made you fall in love?
Frank Ross: [00:00:37] Oh, man. for me, Mike, I got introduced, organized basketball, I’d say, with Silver Hill Boys club, I had played, Silver Hill football and I was about to turn 11 years old. My birthday actually is October, so I had just played football and then, was coming up and turning 11 years old and I played 11 year old, organized basketball, at [00:01:00] Silver Hill Boys club in the Washington DC area.
And that was my first introduction to it. And I fell in love with it. My first coach was Mr. Jones, Quincy Jones. I had a great experience with that and I just kept going after that. I actually, went out for the junior high team. I went to Schubert Junior high school and I got cut from the junior high team my eighth grade year, and then the ninth grade year they didn’t have junior high sports as we call it, but they call it middle school now. They cut it out in PG County. So I didn’t get a chance to play in ninth grade, which I was chomping at the bit, but my very first introduction to organized basketball.
And I played around on the courts when we lived Southeast DC and then we had moved over into Maryland, but I never played organized in the DC area. And then we moved, that was my first introduction. And [00:02:00] I actually. my ninth grade year of junior high, I was playing football and I got left after one of the football games, I went to get a hot dog and I told the coaches, Hey, I was going to get a hot dog.
And I turned around after I got my stuff and everybody was gone. So I had to walk home and I walked home and during that walk. I actually had made a decision at that time that I wasn’t going to play football anymore. I was just going to focus on basketball and I made that decision at ninth grade and then we didn’t have junior high sports in ninth grade, so that really, really messed me up.
Mike Klinzing: [00:02:41] So what did you do then? What, what was the plan? If basketball was going to become kind of your sport that you’re going to focus on and now. That season goes away. What did you do during that time?
Frank Ross: [00:02:51] We played in gym class and after school and then we also played at the boys club.
I still had boys club basketball to [00:03:00] play. And, actually that was the last year. Cause back then when I was playing, especially boys club basketball, high school coaches had a great feeder system because we were playing organized basketball and we had pretty good coaching. So when guys were going to high school back then, AAU wasn’t that big, it was pretty non-existent I’d say. And so the boys club was the feeder system for high schools. And so, for me, my high school was Potomac high school. And so, I played my last year at the Silver Hills boys club and then went on to play JV the next year.
Mike Klinzing: [00:03:39] So I want to ask you just your opinion, because you’re just a little bit older than me, but kind of in the same era before. AAU basketball. And one of the things that I always find to be interesting, talking to people from different eras who have grown up either with, or without a basketball. And in your position, when you’re looking at players in the game today, [00:04:00] do you see, how do you see the impact of just the way that youth basketball system has changed?
Do you see that? Is there anything that you can point to specifically with today’s players maybe compare compared to players 20 or 30 years ago that. We’re more a product of the playground and playing pickup basketball, as opposed to playing on the AAU circuit. Is there anything different about the, whether it’s the skill level of the players, whether it’s their demeanor or temperament, is there anything that you can point to that’s different between kind of the two eras.
Frank Ross: [00:04:30] Yeah, I think for me, my passion for the game grew as I went and played on my own, everything that we did back then, wasn’t organized, we’d come up to the court and you shoot from the top of the key, you picked your teams and you play.
And so there was less focus for us at that time, there wasn’t a whole lot of drill work going on. We learned how to play actually [00:05:00] by playing a lot, but then also I would go, you play open gym and you play with older guys, so I’d sit and watch them. And see what those guys were doing. And then you try, you would go out and mimic it.
And then when you were playing with the older guys, they also would tell you, like, if you you want to push the ball out in front of you when you go by somebody, so they don’t back tap you. And so I remember watching a guy by the name of Earl Woody, who had a real slick handle, when I wanted to handle the ball like Earl and I used to just watch him handle the ball and this was just open gym.
And I don’t even know if Earl ever played organized basketball, but he was a really good player for open gym. But I, as a young guy, I learned a lot from watching and I think kids today watching, and then getting out and playing. I think today, a lot of emphasis is put on drill work versus playing to me.
I kind of view that more as if you have a bunch of young fighters and they’re hitting the mitts and hitting the speed bag and hitting [00:06:00] heavy bag, but they don’t spar. We did a whole lot more sparring than hitting the mitts and hitting the speed bag, hitting the heavy bag.
Mike Klinzing: [00:06:07] Do you think that impacts player IQ and feel for the game?
Is that where you think you see that come out where maybe players in the past had a better feel for the game because they were spending more time playing in kind of those unorganized settings where you had the creativity, whereas today’s players. One of the things that I always think about is. You know, had I grown up in this era, you would have spent all your time playing against kids your own age with your mom or dad watching with a referee, probably in a gym indoors.
And I think it it lends itself when there’s a scoreboard up there, you tend to go back and only work on your strengths. Whereas I know. I’m sure. Just like you did. I would go to the park and if I was playing in a game where the players weren’t as good as me, I might say, okay, this game, I’m only going to dribble with my left hand or this game, this game, I’m only going to shoot threes or this game I’m going to do X, Y, or Z, which you can’t really do when you’re [00:07:00] playing in an organized game with a scoreboard.
So do you think that comes through in terms of the feel and IQ of players today, maybe compared to what it was in the past?
Frank Ross: [00:07:09] Yeah, I think, you definitely get a better feel for the game the more you play it, and you can kind of figure things out versus someone having to tell you everything, where you should look and where you should go.
So you build on that and you start to recognize different things, how to go to the basket, use your body in certain ways. And then another things with kids today. They don’t play outside a great deal. So the one thing you learn when you play outside is you learn that you can’t hit the ground.
No, it’s true. And you have to learn how to navigate the pole, the fence as well. And then if you’re shooting the ball outside and depending on the wind you gotta learn how to use the back board at a certain angle it’s just like hitting the [00:08:00] golf ball outside.
You learn all those different things and attacking the basket. So playing that way for me growing up, it definitely helped my IQ because I was able to figure things out and I wasn’t told everything to do so if you’re doing a lot of drill work, but you’re not playing a lot, you don’t really know how to use the move.
You’re doing it in the drill work, but how did you actually use what you are doing?
Mike Klinzing: [00:08:35] I think that’s so true. I think there’s you might be able to quote, execute the move, but knowing when to actually apply that move in a game setting, I think is a challenge. And we’re starting to see, I know I see it more on the youth level and just kind of be in talking to different coaches.
You know, they had the games based approach where you’re having more practices where. PE players are put into small sided games, and you’re trying to teach the game [00:09:00] through playing the game, as opposed to maybe just putting kids in a line and saying, okay, go ahead and do a crossover dribble at this cone and go and finish.
So I think there’s some good things that are happening on that front, but I just always find it interesting to. Compare and contrast. And it’s one of those things that I wish I could go back and kind of play my life out through both systems and kind of see what the outcome would be just in terms of how that would have impacted me as a player and how it would impact at other kids.
And I think anybody who grows up who I’m 50 and I think anybody who’s my age or older. Hey, you wasn’t around and you pretty much grew up trying to figure the game out for yourself and playing on the playground and doing all those things. And I think those of us who were of that age group are certainly biased.
I’ve never heard anybody who grew up the way we did say, Oh, I wish I wouldn’t have played so much pickup basketball. I wish I could have been in, in with a skills trainer. You know, doing drills. I’ve never heard anybody. I’ve never, ever heard anybody say that. So. you know, whether, whether we’re just old guys who were biased and whatever, but I’ve never heard [00:10:00] anybody say that they want to go back and do more drills.
I think just thinking about playing and being able to do that on the playground, those are some of the best moments.
Frank Ross: [00:10:10] And then you also learn too that everything counted because you know, if you go to the gym on a Saturday morning and it’s packed and you’re a younger guy and you are playing with the older guys and you take an ill-advised shot.
Oh, they’re going to let you know. Yeah.
Mike Klinzing: [00:10:25] You’re going to hear about that for sure. No doubt about that. No doubt about that. You’re not going to, you might not get picked up for two or three more weeks.
Frank Ross: [00:10:31] Exactly.
Mike Klinzing: [00:10:38] Good stuff. All right. So when did play in college basketball get on your radar as a young player? Was that something that you kind of always had in the back of your mind from shortly after you started playing at age 11? Or was that something that as you got into high school and started having some success that started to become a thought and a reality for you?
Just when did, when did college basketball get [00:11:00] on your radar?
Frank Ross: [00:11:01] I’d say it started to really illuminate on my radar my 12th grade year, it was always a dream, but I made it a goal going into the summer, going into my senior year of high school, but see, I played JV my 10th grade year, and then I got cut my 11th grade year and ended up having to play JV again.
And I was told that I was on, I was off, I was only a JV point guard. And so as, as 11th grader having to repeat, JV again I decided I’m going to show them.
And so, I ended up, playing JV. I got moved up like toward the end of the year of my 11th grade year to varsity, but I didn’t play a lot. And then [00:12:00] going into the summer, the spring of my senior year of high school because summer league start started then in the spring.
And then you would train and the summer would start. You would already be playing summer league. So I wasn’t starting the beginning of summer league. And, the guy who was the starting point guard was actually also the quarterback in high school on the football team, he was the backup point guard.
But he had already got his scholarship. He was going to play college football, but he was an exceptional athlete. He had like 4.3 40 speeds. And so he ended up going to the prom, because that was. Springtown going into the summer. His girlfriend was a senior. So he went to the prom and I was waiting, sitting on the edge of my seat.
You know, waiting for my opportunity I got a chance to start and that was it. And, so I [00:13:00] wanted to go to five star and then I was told by my high school coach that wasn’t good enough to go to Five Star and he wouldn’t give me a camp for him to go.
So, at that point I was deflated because I thought that was my chance to go to five-star. So I ended up going to Capital Classic Basketball Camp, which was run by the legendary coach in Northern Virginia, Red Jenkins. And I went to his camp and I said, this is my opportunity.
And so I ended up going to his camp. My goals were going into my senior year was to get a division one scholarship and to play in the McDonald’s Capital Classic. Now this is from a guy who had played JV, and I remember. I was at the game the year before. And that year, that was Johnny Dawkins.
Len Bias. Jeff Baxter guys were playing in that game. And I told the guys that I was with, they were all seniors on the [00:14:00] varsity. And I remember sitting beside one guy and I said, I’m going to be out there next year. And he looked at me and started laughing. So those were my three goals going into division one scholarship.
And at the time, really, I didn’t even understand the difference between division and one division two. I just wanted to get a scholarship. I would go to capital classic basketball camp. And I ended up playing there and I ended up getting, American university saw me there, my college coach, but his assistant coach, Chris Knocky was at the camp and he called him and said, Hey, I don’t know who this kid is, but you know, you need to get over and take a look at it.
They, they tap it off of me. It taps got offered me a scholarship. He hadn’t seen me play a varsity game. So he offered me basically a little bit after that camp.
Mike Klinzing: [00:14:50] That was probably pretty rare in those days. I mean, I don’t think that that probably, that probably didn’t happen very often where you were just I mean, now we know how important the summer [00:15:00] circuit is and all that kind of thing.
And I’ve talked to a number of coaches that they’ve. Offered kids scholarships or had talked to high school coaches who said my player got offered and you know, I never even talked to the college coach that offered them. But in our day that that almost never happened.
Frank Ross: [00:15:15] Yeah. Oh, no. So as the season starts I had two schools. I had George Mason recruit me and American and I chose American. And, Rick Barnes was actually an assistant coach at Mason at that time. And so Rick was the one recruiting me hard.
And so I ended up going to, to American. And so when the high school season started, I had already committed and I was going to American and then I ended up making, I think I made second team all metro my senior year. And then I played in the McDonald’s Capitol classic.
I was just crazy enough to believe in [00:16:00] myself and that I was going to get a scholarship, but as I said, I was a guy who played JV as a junior.
Mike Klinzing: [00:16:09] That’s awesome. What do you remember about that time in between your junior and senior year? As far as how you tried to improve your game?
Like, did you step up what you were doing in terms of the amount of time maybe you were putting in by yourself working on your game, in addition to the pickup that you were playing, or what did you do? What was kind of your game plan to make that happen?
Frank Ross: [00:16:29] Mike, I just, I played, I was in the gym nonstop if they were playing. I was there. If you saw me leaving the house, I was bouncing the ball going down to the court. That’s all I was focused on.
Mike Klinzing: [00:16:48] So when you get to American. What was the transition like for you both on the basketball floor and from a social standpoint, going from high school to college, what do you remember [00:17:00] about that transition?
Frank Ross: [00:17:01] Well, it was a huge transition from the standpoint of, I came out of high school, I was about six-one about 165 pounds. So I was pretty slight, but you know, I was long. And as far as the court piece, I remember the very first time we had practice and they were telling me to turn my man, turn them, turn them.
And you know, I’m figuring, okay. I turned him once and, and it’s like, Goodness, turn them again. They turned to kids and I’m like, well, that was good enough in high school. And I immediately learned like everything guys are stronger, quicker, faster, you gotta be in better shape, you know?
And so that was, that was eye opening to me. But as far as off the floor, then you your workload with class. And not only you got class now, you might [00:18:00] have practice at six in the morning. So learning how to navigate all of that. And you know, for me, by the time I became a junior, that was when I understood how to navigate all that.
And then my game even went to another level because I had understood also how I needed to work off the floor to become a better player. How much time I had to put into it and going over to the gym and at night getting shots up and things of that nature. So those were the things that really stick out in my mind.
It’s just from the class piece was just like, man, how am I doing? I got this plan. So Monday this class, on Tuesday one class, on Wednesday and I got these two classes again or on Thursday and Friday, and now I got practice and that was kind of overwhelming.
And then you learn to adapt to it and [00:19:00] the more disciplined I became on the court, the more disciplined I became in the classroom and it kind of spilled over.
Mike Klinzing: [00:19:09] I think one of the things that’s interesting too, is if you were to talk to a division one college basketball player today, The amount of oversight and support that a division one basketball player has today is a lot higher than what it was during the time when you were going to school or time when I was going to school, it’s like off season, I remember we’d get done with, we’d get done with our season.
They’d hand me like a little three page, ditto of like, here’s your off season workouts, you know? Good luck. We’ll see you back here and we’ll see you back here in August. And in terms of going to class, like, yeah, they checked to see if you were going to class, but you know, they didn’t have the same level of academic support and tutors and you know, different things and making sure you’re keeping on top of your schedule.
So that was kind of left to you unless you were really, really struggling then I guess they could get some help for you. But [00:20:00] compare that to today where guys have a tremendous amount of support within the program. It was, it was a different time in our era.
Frank Ross: [00:20:07] Yes exactly. I agree. A hundred percent.
Mike Klinzing: [00:20:11] What was your highlight of your college career? What’s something that when you look back on your career, what’s something that stands out for you that you’re like I’m never, ever gonna forget this.
Frank Ross: [00:20:21] Well, the biggest highlight of my college career was finishing up and get my degree, off the floor, on the floor, I would probably say.
My biggest highlight because this game sticks out in my head. It was when we played GW my freshman year. Now at that point that year, I think we ended up six and 22. So that was a long season. And we beat GW at our place, we, we probably had at the time, I’m not going to say probably, we played at an army base.
I mean, we [00:21:00] had the worst home facility in division one basketball, and so, we beat GW at our place and they had big Mike Brown. Mike played about 10 years in NBA, but Mike was a beast in the paint and we beat them my freshman year. We were not expected to beat them.
And I just remember that was such a big game for us because we struggled to get wins that year and we beat them at our place. And I had my career high as a freshmen. What’s funny about that is how I had my career high against GW.
And then you think you’ve got it figured out. And that’s why especially as a freshmen, but then what you realize is now that next team you play there, he just had 26. [00:22:00] We can’t let this kid do this and he can do that. We can’t let you, you know, the highs and lows of your freshman year, but for me, the high of my college career was I would have to say that game there, because like I said, we were six and 22 and GW was one of those six wins that we had and we did it in grand fashion too.
And I always joke with Big Mike a couple of weeks ago, and I was joking with him about that then.
Mike Klinzing: [00:22:32] Those are the ones that when you can have bragging rights over somebody that you still see and talk to all the time, there’s nothing better than that. It’s always better to have one. It’s always better to have that wind in your back pocket when you have those conversations, always, always fun.
So you get an opportunity then to get drafted into the NBA. So talk a little bit about what the experience was like. Maybe pre-draft obviously, again, a lot different. Then what guys go through today, but just talk maybe about your experience kind of going [00:23:00] through, and you went to a couple training camps with both the bullets and the Sixers who drafted you, and then you got an opportunity to play some professional basketball.
So just maybe talk in general about what your professional basketball experience was like.
Frank Ross: [00:23:12] Well, for me, that experience when I got drafted by Philly was an indoctrination to what professional basketball was all about. But there was a lockout in 87, so we didn’t have summer league and back then it was during the Princeton summer league. So, we didn’t have any of that. We had a brief mini camp and at that mini camp, man, actually that’s when Scott Brooks and I first met and at that mini camp, there were like 22 guys and the draft choices were in there.
And then there were some other guys that were not drafted who were free agents [00:24:00] and so I remember sitting there and I remember Matt Lucas had said we’re going to take like the top eight guys out of this group. And I remember looking around before we even take the ball.
And what if I’m not in his top eight, I’m not a pro. So I ended up going to veterans camp and I played the whole exhibition season. I got cut a few games before the regular season started. And then that’s when you really realized about the business aspect of it.
And so there was a gap in terms of, there was the CBA team that had my rights at that time. They wouldn’t relinquish my rights, but they wouldn’t bring me in. And so I kind of was in limbo and then I ended up playing a few games in Savannah, Georgia with the Savannah spirits. And then I ended [00:25:00] up coming, I got a cut and they sent me home. And then, and then I ended up going, I think, yeah, I think the 6.4 and under, and then I go out to the 88 Olympics. That’s what it was.
I went to the Olympic trials and Coach Thompson had invited me, to come out to the Olympic trials in 88. And so I ended up going out to Olympic trials and then that’s where Bob Ferry invited me to come to summer camp with them. And so I went and camp there and then ended up going through the exhibition season and I got cut.
Then I ended up going to Germany and then came, came back, played in CBA for in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which was in 89-90. No 90-91. And I said at that point, Mike, if, if I get called up, I do, if [00:26:00] I don’t, I’m done. And I was 26 years old. The season was over. We played our last game. I had my hands and I was cheering and I was cheering because we won the game, but I was just cheering because I was done, because I felt like given everything I had to the game and there were things I couldn’t control. And so I just decided I was done, I wasn’t going to hoop anymore.
Mike Klinzing: [00:26:27] That’s a moment I think for everybody that especially when you’re so passionate about the game for so long, And, and then you come to that realization that again, it’s it it’s over that it’s that it’s time to, it’s time to move on.
I think that’s the, that’s a very, very tough thing to do. I know there’s still moments for me as a 50 year old that I tell people and I’ve coached for a long time. And I still, when I go and lay down at night, I still. When I dream, I dream about being a player. I don’t dream [00:27:00] about being a coach. I still have, I still have, I still have dreams about being a player.
And so I don’t know that I don’t know that the game has ever really been replaced for me in terms of just the competitiveness and all the things that I loved about it when I was a kid. And it’s just, again, every athlete obviously faces that at some point. And so when you come face to face with that and you say, okay, I’m done then.
Tell us what the plan was from there. So I’m done now. What, what’s next? What was next for you at that moment in your mind?
Frank Ross: [00:27:29] Well, when I said I was done, I was still living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. And you know, the default at that point is always basketball.
And so I was like, Hmm, I remember somebody I’m talking to somebody to ask us, what do you want to do? You want to coach? And I said, no. And then I just decided that coaching is not what I wanted to do because I wanted to define myself outside of basketball. So I [00:28:00] actually started working at the Sheriff’s department.
Because I was looking through a magazine and I saw an advertisement for the DEA. And then I’m thinking like law enforcement never that was something I never thought I saw myself in.
Mike Klinzing: [00:28:15]Wwhat was your degree, Frank?
Frank Ross: [00:28:17] public, communications. Yeah. So, and so that was something, I was just like, I was like, man, wait a minute.
Okay. You got teamwork. You got to keep yourself in shape it’s uniform. Okay. I, you know why can’t no, of course. And so I started working at the Sheriff’s department and I was originally slated to go through the Academy in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with the Sheriff’s department then.
And, God, I became close with names field. Was I was going to fill his spot. He was leaving to go to work for the FBI and he and I became real close and, he was actually the first [00:29:00] person that showed me how to fire a weapon. And, and so. I used to do ride alongs with him. But during that period, I also work inside the jail in the commissary.
I ran the commissary, during the day, in the evenings. And then I would do some parking tickets, also, and just kind of waiting because he was waiting to leave and then, but it was taking a while and I just said, you know what I said, I said, I’m just going to go back home because it’s too many jurisdictions at home and apply at home.
And so I ended up driving back home and I applied in PG County, Fairfax County and Arlington County. At that time, everybody actually had a freeze on hiring except Arlington County. And so, I ended up going through the hiring process and got hired and went through the Academy and I needed to get away from basketball because I needed to kind of purge myself.
I became an avid runner. I became an avid runner. I was running six miles, three times a week. I wouldn’t even touch a ball. I put all my competitive juices in the running. And because I knew if I were to go play, it would pull me back in.
So I stay, I wouldn’t even go open gym. And so I ended up going to the police, getting on the police department. They tried to get me to play with the team that they had at Arlington. And it took them probably like two year to two, or maybe almost three years before I would actually play on the team because I’m a cop now, man, I’m done with hooping so, and then I stayed away from it and then I ended up playing, but I was one of those guys that I felt didn’t cheat the game. I gave the game everything I had. So when I said I was done I wasn’t looking back and saying, damn, [00:31:00] if I would’ve just, if I would’ve just worked hard, in fact, I just understood the business of it, the politics of it.
And I just said, Hey, it just wasn’t for me.
Mike Klinzing: [00:31:14] So what did you enjoy about being on the police force? What was it? Was it the team aspect that was kind of some of the things that you described about you’re, you’re wearing the uniform, you got to keep your body in shape. What was it about police work that you really enjoy?
Frank Ross: [00:31:28] Looking back the things I enjoyed the most were definitely some of the relationship that I built while I was there. Cause I mean, I’m still friends with some of the guys I work with, to this day. And that was probably the biggest thing. And then when you help people or you do something.
I’ll give an example, one night I was working midnights and I’m riding around [00:32:00] and I see, I look over and see this car in the back of his parking lot. And I’m like, it’s in the Bank of America parking lot. So I go in from the other side and if I’m coming in from the other side, my supervisor is coming up the street.
And it’s about one in the morning and I wave, he’s looking at me. And at that point he follows me in, we flooded the area with take down lights. And, as I do that there’s a guy in the path in the driver’s seat. And then I see a guy running out of the bushes, jumping in the passenger seat because he was coming out of the bushes.
So make a long story short. There was a Wendy’s parking lot adjacent to the Bank of America. Well, they had already gone over. They had agun with a backpack in the woods and they had duct tape and mask and they ended, they had actually already punched a hole in the manager of Wendy’s car. His car was [00:33:00] in the parking lot. They had punched a hole in his tire. They were just waiting for him to come out and, they ended up confessing to what they were about to do. And also, confessing to like 10 different armed robberies throughout the metropolitan area.
And I ended up getting a meritorious award for that and that was something that for me as a police officer, it was gratifying because you were able to stop something like that from happening and to this day I can look at it and I don’t look at it as, Oh, it’s just somebody sitting in the car is it that I’m all like the things that I learned on the police department, I carry to this day with me there’s certain things that I’ll see and it keeps me aware of every everything that’s going on.
Mike Klinzing: [00:34:00] Yeah, I can imagine that being aware of your surroundings is a skill that as a police officer, that you continue to get sharper all the time, because you just have to be aware of what’s going on. And as you said, now, that’s something that you carry forward from that point and that time in your life. So when does basketball start calling you back?
When do you start getting the itch? When did that hit you? That like, Hey, I want to get back into it or was that not?
Frank Ross: [00:34:25] No, I actually stayed in the police department for about five years and then I left, after two years in uniform midnights. And then I think I did about almost three years in a community-based unit, which we did a lot of different things. I used to get on the court and played basketball with some of the local guys in the neighborhood.
And, then I would be sometime we’d have to maybe lock some of them up for selling drugs. So, I did that. Then I started selling. [00:35:00] I bought a rainbow vacuum. and the guy that I bought the vacuum from, I came into the business to do it part time, and I started doing that part-time and I liked it.
And so I ended up getting on the program to become a distributor to do that. And so I left the police department to, sell the rainbow vacuum full-time as a distributor. And I remember people said I was crazy when I was taking a risk and I kinda, and I laughed at him and I said, now, I said, you do realize when I put his badge and gun on, I take a risk every day with my life.
And they’ve kind of looked at me cause they didn’t look at it that way. And so I left the police department to be an entrepreneur to sell the rainbow vacuum. I did that for five years. So we got five years on the police department, five on the selling rainbows, which was 10 years away from basketball.
And then my passion for the game came back. And that’s when I [00:36:00] knew I was ready to go back to basketball. And so the first coaching job I ended up getting, was at Mary Mount College with Chuck yourself. he was, he was the head coach there, a division three school in Arlington, Virginia.
And Chuck, I remember checks selling me, said, man, I can’t pay you. Yeah. I’m not, I’m not here to chase the money. I want the money to chase me because you know, if you take a job for the money. There’s really no passion to it, you know? And so for basketball, I had passion for it.
What was a love I had for it. And so, that’s why I was in it. I had met and sat down with my college coach, Ed Tapscott and he had told me I needed to get some basketball on my resume. So I did that. And so I interviewed, I had interviewed at American, they had a position open and I didn’t get that, which, it [00:37:00] normally doesn’t work out that way in basketball. It just seems right where Hey, I played there and they had an opening. I don’t have to move that’s just, that’s kind of like the Ed McMahon job, sweepstake ambassador so I ended up, getting the job up in upstate New York at the University of Albany.
And it was their second, I think, or second year might’ve been division one. And, cause I coached with Chuck for a few months and then that I ended up getting that job in upstate New York. And so I had to leave and go up to New York and that’s how I got on my basketball. trail by growing, going up there.
but actually what really got me started was the division three job with Chuck. And as I say, I didn’t blink when he said I can’t pay you anything.
Mike Klinzing: [00:37:53] So what’d you learn about coaching that you didn’t know in those first two stops? Was there things that as a player you didn’t [00:38:00] realize that coaches did or spend a lot of time on just what was, what was maybe surprising to you about the coaching profession that you hadn’t thought about when you were playing?
Frank Ross: [00:38:09] Because you don’t, as a player, you don’t understand all the preparation that goes into the game. You know, and then the preparation is going into practice and the preparation, all the things that you’re doing in practices, building toward the offense, building toward the defense, you know? so I started to go back in my mind and think about the guys that coached me from Larry Harris and Chris Knocky to Fran Dunphy the call Hicks those guys doing in practice. Breaking down stuff in drills and they got they on one side doing this and, and then putting it all together. You know, that didn’t register the registry as a player because you come, you play, you listen to the scouting report, boom, boom, boom.
[00:39:00] And then you go, but once you get on the other side, it’s like, Oh man, all this is what goes into it? You know?
Mike Klinzing: [00:39:09] Yeah, absolutely. I think that there’s a lot of things that as players. You take for granted. And I think the prep is a huge one. And then I think the other thing that we’ve heard from people is just the amount of stuff that.
Coaches have to do that. Doesn’t have anything to do with the basketball, the basketball side of it. So you think about the, the administrative and travel and academics and planning making sure guys get meals and that we’re we got the hotel rooms lined up and you know, you’re dealing with the law alumni and yeah.
Ads and all that kind of stuff. I think that’s, those are the two most common ones that we hear is, Oh, I know that prep preparation. And then just the non-basketball related activities that you spend so much.
Frank Ross: [00:39:47] Yeah. You know, checking on guys in class and making sure they go what they supposed to do.
And I mean, that’s got nothing to do with hooping, but if they don’t do that, they don’t hoop. [00:40:00]
Mike Klinzing: [00:40:02] Absolutely. All right. So. Now you’re headed to the NBA after the University Albany with the Bobcat’s. So how does that come to be? Is that job just something that you go out and you chase, or is that something that you have a connection with?
The Bobcat, somebody that from your past that’s working there. How does the opportunity with the Bobcat’s come across your desk?
Frank Ross: [00:40:24] Yeah, it was organic. My college coach Ed Tapscott, he became the president of the Charlotte Bobcat’s, but the guy that he hired as director of scouting was the Late Kenny “egg man” Williamson.
And I had connected with Egg at ABCD when I was at Albany. And so when Tap hired him as director of scouting, Egg, man hired me as a scout. So I mean, and I knew nothing about, my whole reason for getting in college basketball. I wanted to be a [00:41:00] head coach in division one basketball.
I had no focus, no idea of even, I didn’t even know people made a living. I had no, that was the furthest thing from my mind. So, egg man offered me a scouting job and I took the scouting job and. And I’ve been in the NBA ever since. And I’ve had a couple of times that I was going to go back to college.
back when I was with the Bobcat’s. If I was going to go back, it was only to go back to be a head coach. You know, If I was going back to be an assistant at a BCS program, I was going back to be a head coach. And so I, it was tempting to do it and I ended up staying and didn’t do it.
but I mean, I enjoyed my time as a college coach. I mean, I still have some of the guys that I coached, they called me to this day and they still call me Coach advice, but the whole NBA thing, it was just [00:42:00] purely organic. I mean I had, I had fostered a relationship with egg man.
And he ended up, offering me the scouting position and he and I became very close through that. And I learned a great deal from him. Cause you know, egg man was the type of guy that if he walked in the room and if it was a hundred people, basketball people in there probably 95 of them knew egg man.
Mike Klinzing: [00:42:27] So what did you learn? What did you learn from him in those first years? About the scouting profession in terms of maybe one or two things that when you think back they were instrumental in sort of what you’ve been able to do in the rest of your career?
Frank Ross: [00:42:44] one of the main things, one of the two main things I can say I learned from Egg Man is that he treated people with respect all the time, but he had his network of people that he dealt with [00:43:00] and egg man was a straight shooter. And so, people appreciated that about him. And so, I’m a straight shooter. And so he, he had told me don’t, he said, be who you are.
And he said, don’t change who you are. He said, be who you are, because people would appreciate that. And I remember the very first time we went to scout a game and he and I were sitting beside each other and he never, like, we went to a game.
He never told me like I’m cause I was 30, what, 36, seven at the time, there’s some 38. I think when I got into, got into scouting and, and I’ll say this because, I always kind of laugh when you have young people that want to get into scouting and they want to start at the highest level.
And so, for me, I was 37 years old. I had too much respect for the game. When I got hired as a scout, I’m [00:44:00] like, Oh my goodness. I got lot to learn. I didn’t think I knew at all. And so always find that funny you have young people that they want to get.
They see what I’m doing right now and they want to do what I do, but. You know, always, always, sometime I ask them, are you willing to do what I did to get here? You know?
Mike Klinzing: [00:44:21] Absolutely.
Frank Ross: [00:44:22] And so this is 18 years later, so I didn’t just pop up where I am now. So one thing I never forget, and I tend to day even when I’m scouting games, remember Egg and I was sitting, watching this game and it was a guy sitting to his right.
And I was to his left. And so, the game’s going on and the guys over there he’s right. I mean, he’s right. I mean, going at it, going at it. So egg man looks at me and says, okay, I don’t know what he right. He said, cause he ain’t watching the game. [00:45:00] So with that told me was the most important thing when you at the game is to watch the game.
Mike Klinzing: [00:45:12] You don’t want, you don’t want to miss five minutes of the game writing stuff down.
Frank Ross: [00:45:15] Yeah. Yeah. So that was, that was his way of teaching me. Not telling me, teaching me, but in a simplistic way, which he had a lot of different ways of teaching you or saying stuff. And the simplistic way where you can take a nugget from it.
Mike Klinzing: [00:45:35] Was there a point when you’re with the Bobcat’s or maybe it came later in one of your other stops where you felt like you had sort of developed your own eye or your own internal system for. Evaluating players. Was there a point when you got comfortable kind of with your own process and started to trust what your eyes saw and what your evaluation was?
Do you remember when you [00:46:00] got to that point? Y
Frank Ross: [00:46:02] Yeah, I’d probably say it’s around the Fourth year where you kind of fourth or fifth year, I kind of settled in to where I’m like, okay, I really understand. And you kinda, you assess, you kind of can process or assess a lot of different things when you’re watching the guy play, from watching in warmups to watch him doing time outs, to watching when he’s playing and, and then also be able to kind of, see how, how does he feel.
Does he fit your team so to speak, and I could even say that. You know, going back to the police department, it’s the same way. It was the same way in that job. When you get to your bed or your gun, you trying to figure stuff out when you come out of the Academy I mean, there’s an element of common sense that’s involved in that job, but then there’s also the element of what if there’s something to charge somebody [00:47:00] with, do you know what you’re looking at? If you see something like, what is this and that in that job, it was around about the fifth year, in that job to where you feel like, okay, if I don’t care what I come up on, I, I know what I can figure it out and I can go from here and.
I’d say roundabout the fourth year, but I always make, I always go back to saying I was scouting when I was in open gym because if I had next game and I’m trying to say I’m looking at, yup, no. So it was just more in terms of the, it was a different arena and just kind of learning what your coach likes, what type of guys you want as I said, that that you need just because I like a guy that doesn’t mean that that’s the guy for the team. [00:48:00] You learn those different things. And I say, roundabout that, fourth year, third or fourth year I kind of got, because then as I said, I was a little older too, when I got into scouting.
So, it’s not like I was. And then you also draw from your experience as a player in terms of when you looking at guys just, just like if you, you look at it, you watch a guy. I remember watching the guy twisted his ankle. he got a couple quick fouls. Okay. Then he came out in the beginning of the game.
Then he comes back in the game, slightly twists his ankle, and he asked to come out and he had him take the tape right off and he was done. And I’m sitting there saying to myself, Oh no, he didn’t want to play. You know? And so we had a chance to interview him. I asked him about that.
And then he finally he went on to confess to you, right. I didn’t want to play that game [00:49:00] because it’s that cause there’s a player. I know I’ve twisted my ankles before and you know, you tie your shoe up tighter. You try to walk, run it off and see if that works. That don’t work. You go to the bench and let them put a little more tape on it.
If that don’t work, you come back out, they take the tape that off and retape it, you know? but if you take your shoe off , cut the tape off and then you put ice on you’re done for tonight. You know, it was just the game. So I even drawing from my playing experiences that when you see certain things even if it’s a guy that he might be hunting his shots in the first half and they up by 20, but then the team makes a run and they cut the lead to two, and then they go ahead and he’s not even trying to get shots in the game.
And when the game is tied so there’s just different things that you see that. You [00:50:00] know, from, from my playing experience that I know. Cause I know even if they don’t tie it up, I still want the ball.
Mike Klinzing: [00:50:08] Right.
Frank Ross: [00:50:09] You know, making you, making yourself available. But all of a sudden this same guy when he was up 20 pounds, his chest coming on hard and all of a sudden he can’t get out.
Mike Klinzing: [00:50:21] I know exactly what you mean. Sorry. So let me, let me follow up with that because obviously. As a scout, a lot of what you’re just describing there is you being able to take your own experiences and apply them to what you’re seeing and compare them to situations that you’ve been in and players you’ve dealt with in the past, both as a player and as a coach.
And then as you get more experienced as a scout, but when does analytics start to become a part of. What you do at what point do you remember the year? Do you remember the season? Do you remember a player? Do you remember a particular GM that you worked for where [00:51:00] suddenly analytics became not again, not the end all be all, but when it started, to where you started to take it into account, when you, when you put together your scouting report
Frank Ross: [00:51:08] Well, when I left the Thunder, I mean the Bobcat’s, I went to Seattle, and which became the Thunder.
So that was Sam Presti that came after Duran. And then we ended up drafting Russell. Russell & James, Russell third, James, and then my last, the last draft, I was there with Steven Adams. So Sam was really forward thinking at that time with a lot of different things even though he was young at the time and he was getting you to want to try to look deeper at different things.
So, there were always different things that he had us doing at [00:52:00] that time when I, when I got there. So the analytics part was introduced around that time. And like you said, it’s a tool. And then if it’s a tool that’s in the tool box, it’s not the end all be all, but from that point to now analytics it’s gotten more tools in the box, so to speak.
So, I mean, you have to keep an open mind to it because, If you’re not willing to learn, then you don’t grow. So being introduced to analytics and then as far as people have always paid attention to the, the analytics of shooting percentages free throw percentage, rebounding numbers, assist to turnover.
And this is just in terms of putting those things in a different format and [00:53:00] having it spit out different ways to look at that stuff. I embrace it, because it helps you to grow and it helps you to count and go back.
And it helps you look at players in different way sometimes, or which you do that. Do the numbers line up with the eyes. You know, in that regard. So, so yeah, so back to on that, that time with the Thunder, I mean, Sam was big into that as well.
Mike Klinzing: [00:53:34] So without giving away any trade secrets, is there a particular number or set of numbers that you found to be, projectable from college, in other words, transferrable, like if you see a player has.
This metric as a college player, that that metric generally translates well to what they might be able to do in the NBA. Have you found patterns of, of things [00:54:00] that statistics, analytics that they, that go with them that are attached to them in college that, that translate into their pro career?
Frank Ross: [00:54:07] I, I mean, Without getting too deep with anything, when you start looking at guys, rebounding numbers, those are things that generally will translate, from, from the college to the professional ranks. And so, I could say that.
Mike Klinzing: [00:54:24] Okay, so rebounding is a big thing. What about, I know a lot of times you’ll hear and you know, we’ll hear announcers talking about that.
If a guy is a good free throw shooter, that that generally translates to the fact that he at least has the potential. Maybe if he’s not a three point shooter in college that if he’s shooting. 80% from the line or 75% from the line that he’ll now maybe have the opportunity to extend his range with once he gets with an NBA shooting coach and some of the other coaching, things that go on.
Is that something that you find translatable?
Frank Ross: [00:54:58] Yeah, if [00:55:00] you have a guy that. If you look into the guy and he’s, if I’d say it this way, if a guy’s failing at all in all the shooting categories you look at this field goal percentage, and then you look at a three point percentage you look at his free throw percentage, all those, he’s failing, that’s kind of alarming indicator, but then if you see a guy he decent field goal and, three point may not be that great, but then a free-throw, numbers are decent. That’s something that gives you some hope. I think
Mike Klinzing: [00:55:44] I get it. How, how important or how is she, how much has shooting and the way the game has shifted since you first started as a scout, how much more emphasis has there been placed [00:56:00] upon players at all? Positions? Being able to shoot the ball when you’re scouting.
In other words, I’m sure when you started in 2003, you had players who, okay, this guy has a center. We’re not really worried about whether or not he can step out on the floor and space, the floor force and shoot threes. Whereas now clearly that’s a skill I’m sure that you’re looking for in basically every position, every player.
Frank Ross: [00:56:22] Yeah. because if you think back how the game was 25 years ago, where. You know, open shots or three point shots were created based. Cause if you had a dominant big man, you had to go double. Then you you kick out swing, swing, and you got to open shot. Well, now that’s done it’s not done that way, guys spacing you in terms of yeah.
Getting three pointers because most teams want to kind of keep that area open. And they’re very few big [00:57:00] guys today that, that are dominant down in the paint like that to play with their backs to the basket. So, It is important to have guys on the floor that can shoot the ball at all spots because you know what happens is, especially in playoff basketball, the ball’s gonna find the guy that can’t shoot.
Mike Klinzing: [00:57:23] Yep. No doubt about that. I think the difference play off basketball clearly is you compare that to the regular season where teams just don’t have the time to prepare and put together a specific game plan. And a lot of the cases you’re not even practicing on very often during the season and then you get to the playoffs and you’re you’ve got one day between each game, Right? And everybody. And so it’s just, that’s one of those things that I think. As a fan of the NBA and somebody who’s not on the inside, you look at that and you try to process and think about why that is and how that happens. And just the amount of preparation goes back to when we talked about you first getting into coaching and [00:58:00] being surprised about the amount of prep that goes into it.
And you just think about the amount of time that. Coaching staffs and are putting into just designing an entire game plan around trying to exploit the other team’s weaknesses and hide their own.
Frank Ross: [00:58:17] Yeah. because with, as you say it with, with the, once the playoffs rolled around that scouting book gets a little thicker.
And so that’s the whole key. And then even if you get you exploit that weakness this game, then it’s a game of chess then. Then the other team will try to counter which you track, what you made a weakness and try to make it a strength. And so, yeah, it definitely is.
Mike Klinzing: [00:58:47] All right, let’s talk about your work with the Wizards and let’s put aside this strange season and we’ll come back to that in a second, in a normal season where you’re going out, you’re [00:59:00] scouting college players to prepare for the draft. How many days out of the year, are you on the road during the college basketball season?
How much video are you watching of each player? Just kind of give us an idea of maybe what your day to day, week to week, month to month schedule looks like as you try to prepare those scouting reports.
Frank Ross: [00:59:25] On average, I’m on the road like 15 to 18 days, out of the month when the college season is going on. And so, and that, generally. If I need and you try to do it in a I learned that from, from the egg man he would say you want to do any crazy traveling, you don’t want to go to go from New Orleans to Indiana back to Atlanta to New York just [01:00:00] criss-cross. Do you want to kind of do it in a kind of charge, a trip out to where it’s? it makes sense and it’s not hard traveling and you can you get an LA trip accomplished, you get enough, you get a lot of complex by doing it that way.
So, and then as far as. You know, so when I come off the road, as far as, the video, I’m watching more live games and I am watching video because they’re in the basketball season because you know, there’s so many games on.
So when I’m home, most of the time I’m watching, Even when I’m home, I’m watching games that are on their own versus, watching taped games and, video some you’ll, you’ll watch some video on the flights that you download, games you’ll download on the plane when you’re going to and from, some, a lot of times, but for the most part during the season, When I’m traveling and when I come home, I’m still watching games cause [01:01:00] there’s going to be games on
if I’m not watching the college game or watching the pro game, you know?
Mike Klinzing: [01:01:09] y All right. So as you get closer to the draft, and again, I’m talking about a normal year, not this year, as you get closer to the draft and you start bringing in players, Into your facility to have their visit. Just describe kind of in general, what does that visit look like?
How long are the guys in town and then what are the things that you do with them? And you can get as specific or as non-specific as you want with that.
Frank Ross: [01:01:35] Say a guy comes in. Say he got in early today, say around 5:00 PM Eastern time. for he’s working out tomorrow at, say 10 o’clock.
So taking them out to eat dinner, and, have a little face time with them then. And then, the next day when he comes into the facility, he’s, [01:02:00] he’ll go through measurements and, check his vertical and things of that nature.
And they will have a physical as well. So, then after that the guy will go through like a 45 minute to an hour workout. And then after that workout, you’ll interview him after the workout. and then you want him also to hit.
You know, you kind of have touch points or, or people have contact around the facility that he’s, that he’s kept that he’s met with, or at least sat down and talk with. so he people can kind of even get acquainted with the guy and who he is and things of that nature. So, and then generally the after that they’ll have a flight out, after say probably around, three, maybe about four, four o’clock the next day.
And they, they may be on to another workout, or that they’re going back to their base camp.
Mike Klinzing: [01:02:58] So it’s about a 24 [01:03:00] hour process more or less?
Frank Ross: [01:03:00] Yeah. Yeah. Got it. And then fly in morning of. he’s going to get in the day before and then, and generally if it’s going to be six guys working out, or it could be four to six guys, generally going to be on the floor.
Mike Klinzing: [01:03:22] So here’s a question that I always find to be, I guess, from my own personal standpoint, I’m curious when you bring a guy in, and obviously if you’re at the point where you’re bringing a player into your facility, this is somebody that you’ve already spent a lot of time on. Studying them as a player, trying to get to know who they are as a person, through whatever methods it is that you go about doing that.
When you bring a player in for a workout, I don’t know if you could ballpark it or percentage it, but how often does the in-person visit stray from [01:04:00] what you thought of the player coming into the workout or into the visit? If that makes sense. So how often are you. Surprised by something at the workout could be positive or negative compared to maybe what you thought coming into the visit.
Frank Ross: [01:04:15] You mean on the court?
Mike Klinzing: [01:04:18] Just in general. So let’s say you have a guy like, okay. Like this kid. I really liked, we really liked this kid. We think that he’s got the potential to be a great pro we’ve heard lots of good things that he’s the kind of guy that would fit into any team’s culture.
And now you bring him into your life. You’re like, Ooh, maybe, maybe not, or vice versa. So how often do they not sort of meet kind of what you thought going in just in general? Maybe not necessarily even just specific to on the court, but just their overall, who they are.
Frank Ross: [01:04:47] Not a great deal in 18 years.
I won’t say there’s been a huge amount of guys that disappointed you so to speak. [01:05:00] and I, but what I will say, the biggest pain neck and, make a guy look bad is if, if he’s not in shape that’s one of the big things because a lot of times the agents want to know what, where like, like what’s the workout?
What are you going? You know? where are you guys putting them through things of that nature? And I, and my thing has always said, if a guy’s in shape doesn’t matter, the workout. Cause every team has different workout. You know, so they’re not going to be the same, but if you’re in shape that it doesn’t matter you just say, Hey man, let’s go, let’s do it.
Mike Klinzing: [01:05:35] It would seem like almost to me at this point and maybe I’m wrong and maybe I’m being naive, but it just seems like at, at, at this point with the amount of whether it’s just social media or just awareness of what it takes, cause maybe a guy. Twenty-five years ago could have been ignorant to what the process was like.
But at this point it seems like everybody would be well aware of what’s going [01:06:00] on. So it seems like it would be almost, it would be almost unfathomable to me to, and I’m sure it’s not, I’m sure you can confirm, but it just seems crazy to me that guys would come in and not be in shape when this is something that theoretically they’ve worked their entire life for this opportunity.
Frank Ross: [01:06:16] Yeah, but it happens because lot of times, what I will say is all is what you know. And so a lot of times guys think they think they might be working hard and they think they are in shape. But then cause you have to look at this to Mike. Okay. And for these guys just think, They stopped playing in March.
So April, May, June, July, August, September. This is October going into November. Yeah. Eight months. They haven’t played, but for the normal, if this was a normal year, You stop playing in, say if you finished in [01:07:00] March. Okay. So you said April, May, June, and then summer league is in July. So, okay. April, May. So two months and you haven’t played, no, you’ve been doing this Melbourne speed bag, heavy bag emits.
You haven’t been going up and down and then, and then when you come to, when you come into to a workout, Now you got your adrenaline going, it raises everything. Now you compete, you got you competing against another guy at another level. So, which if you’re not, if you haven’t conditioned yourself to do that up to that point, then what happens is.
You know, you can then it’s going to test your recovery on how well you can process it. Right?
Mike Klinzing: [01:07:53] That makes sense.
Frank Ross: [01:07:58] Yeah. Cause they stopped [01:08:00] playing. They’re not going up and down. So that they’re in season shape that you had, where you were, you were you in prime shape running them down the floor, and then you stopped playing for two months and you, I can say it.
Speed bag, heavy bags in myths, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And then all of a sudden you standing in front of me and you trying to throw that person and you’ve got something else coming back in.
Oh goodness. Whoa.
Mike Klinzing: [01:08:31] But it gets this together.
Frank Ross: [01:08:32] Yeah. Like you start you start breathing a little harder.
Mike Klinzing: [01:08:37] All right. I want you to look back at the totality of your career and give me if you can. And it doesn’t even necessarily have to be a guy that the team that you were with drafted. Is there a guy that was sort of a sleeper that you.
Evaluated that you had a really strong feeling [01:09:00] that the guy was going to end up being a success. And that’s in fact what happened? Is there a guy that was maybe again late first round, pick a second round, pick a guy who maybe didn’t get drafted, but was a free agent that you thought, Ooh, I’m surprised that he didn’t get picked.
That ended up turning out to be a rare, very, very good NBA players or a guy or two that sticks out that kind of fits that profile.
Frank Ross: [01:09:18] Westbrook’s fits that profile because we took him four and a lot of people knew for, so, he was a guy that definitely fits that mold, you know?
Mike Klinzing: [01:09:37] What was it, what was it about Russ? And he clearly, obviously looking back. In hindsight, clearly the athleticism and just the ferocity that he plays with stands out. But what was it about him that made that that was going to be the right pick for you guys at that time?
Frank Ross: [01:09:53] He had that chip on his shoulder.
He was the guy that was overlooked. And [01:10:00] if you look deeper in terms of watching him, in college that he, his passing was better than what people was giving him credit for. You know, and so that was one of the, that was the two, two of the things. And, and, and so, but, but just that, that chip on his shoulder and then looking looking at him deeper in terms of him, being able to pass the ball a little better than what people, gave him credit for.
Mike Klinzing: [01:10:31] Well, it turned out, turned out to be the right pick, without question.
Frank Ross: [01:10:37] Yeah Russell, that was good.
Mike Klinzing: [01:10:50] All right. I’m going to ask you the reverse question without naming names.
Was there a guy, or has there been a guy that you thought this guy is a [01:11:00] sure-fire can’t miss. I know this guy is going to be successful. That ended up not making it. And you don’t have to name names, but just, do you remember, and then maybe just tell us what it was that maybe you missed on the guy, if there was a player that fits that profile.
Frank Ross: [01:11:14] Yeah. Yeah. And it’s. You say show fire. I mean, for the most part, I mean you’re hoping guys are going to turn out and you look at some of the analytics, that you are using as a tool, your background and yeah, there was one particular guy that didn’t pan out. And a lot, a lot of it was because of his work ethic. You know, his work ethic wasn’t what people said it was.
Mike Klinzing: [01:11:51] Gotcha. Gotcha. All right. I want to wrap up with one final question and it’s a two-parter and the first part of it is when [01:12:00] you look forward in your career and you look ahead to where you are.
Right now to where you’re going to be going. What is the biggest challenge that you see ahead of you as a professional in your line of work? And then number two, what is the biggest joy that you have when you get out of bed in the morning? What makes you excited to get up and get to your desk and start to do your job?
Frank Ross: [01:12:22] Well, I’d say it needs to be immediate in terms of a challenge in getting back into a gym, being watched guys live. So that that’s an immediate challenge because right now we going to be doing a lot of stuff, watching TV, and, and then rewatching video of games with guys. So, I mean, for the immediate that’s one of the things.
and then I think the thing that, it gives me, you said like joy.
Mike Klinzing: [01:12:52] Sure. Yeah. What, what, what, what excites you about everyday getting up and getting to do what you do?
Frank Ross: [01:12:57] Because I never thought I’d be doing this for a [01:13:00] living. I never thought, cause I want to do this. I want to do what you do, man. I was born. Yeah. I just I’ve never, that was not my end all be all. And so for me the joy I get out of is the people that I work with now. I mean that not only because when you can sit around with people and you’re not just talking work, but you can talk life and people, therefore, you, when you, when, when you’ve got gone through things in your life or with your family so, and to have good friends, and the people that I’ve met in this business and just like, I had a good friend, BJ Johnson who passed away, had a tragic accident, a few weeks ago. And they just [01:14:00] had his service in Houston, this on Friday and Saturday. And so, I’ve reconnected with him back in the NBA.
I first watched him play, down at urban coalition when I was playing in the junior division in high school. So the people that I’ve met in this business, the people that I don’t just call them, you know, they’re not just even the people I work, they’re not just coworkers, these people that I work with now, they’re friends, sort of people that I’ve worked with in this business that I’ve become close with.
And even if I’ve gone to other teams that’s, that’s the thing that gives me joy. And in the fact, like I said, I just don’t classify as you know, it’s work. So I during the normal season, I’m on, I’m away from my family and we’re going to watch games, but I enjoy going to watch basketball, you know?
I mean, I’ve [01:15:00] been. part of this game since I was 11 years old. I had to get away from it to kind of purge myself to be able to let that passion to come back. And so, like I said
as an 11 year old kid I never saw it, that I’d be working in the NBA and doing what I do now. So for me it’s, it’s all a, it’s all a w you know,
Mike Klinzing: [01:15:36] When work isn’t work. Then you’ve done something right,
Frank Ross: [01:15:39] And so, I mean and I’ve done some things, but I will say this, Mike, I’m glad I, and I think my appreciation for what I do now, wouldn’t be the same.
If I had just gone right into basketball. I can see that I had to get away from it and then do [01:16:00] other things, which I enjoy even I enjoy now when I did, when I did the rainbow vacuum, I enjoy, I enjoyed that going in and getting somebody to sign that contract for that $1,700 vacuum. That was like a rolling in the road and even on the police department, and I guess that’s part of it. If that’s part of who you are, everything you do, you’re going to have passion for it. And so even on the police department, I was that same way. And I came back to basketball and, but I needed to get away and, and, but doing those other things allow me to, cause I guess this was the old cliche. If you love something, you let it go. And then if it comes back then it’s yours.
So that’s what I did. And I, and that’s what I try to the advice I try to give to some young guys, I just say.
You know, let it happen organically. You know, if you’re just pressing, pressing, pressing, pressing, [01:17:00] pressing, like things are generally not going to happen that way. You know, you got to kind of let things happen. You plant the seeds, you do the proper things and if it’s going to happen, then boom.
If it doesn’t you can’t look at this as the end all end be all. I tell people all the time, this is what I do. It’s not who I am. You know, You can’t be defined by our position or title. And if you get defined by a position or a title, then what happens when you lose that?
You know, I’ve watched guys when I was at Albany coaching and I’ve walked into an AAU event, I got the Albany shirt on and guys, they look at my shirt and Hey, what’s up and that’s it. Right. And then what, didn’t you, years later here, I’m working in the NBA.
I got no, no logo on my shirt. And all of a sudden, some of those same guys wanting to talk to him and I’m looking, and I’m saying, you do realize I was the same guy to hit
[01:18:00] it. I just couldn’t understand how people were defined by a logo on their shirt that, that just, it was mind boggling to me
Mike Klinzing: [01:18:10] it makes total sense. I think you said it really well when you talked about the most important thing to be in relationships. And then when you were talking about letting something go and having it come back to you, and I have heard the saying used by a couple of different coaches that we’ve had on the podcast there’s, there’s magic in the ball.
And the ball creates these relationships and these opportunities, for people who like us, we’ve been in the game and you just never know where it’s going to take you. And it’s been an exciting journey for you, exciting journey for me, and just getting an opportunity to do all these things.
And, it’s been a lot of fun tonight, Frank, and a chance to. Get to know you and talk to you and to hear your story. And before we go, I want to give you a chance to just, give people an opportunity to where they can reach out to you. Where can they find out more about you or at least about the Washington wizards.
And then I’ll jump back in and [01:19:00] wrap things up.
Frank Ross: [01:19:01] I’m not a big social media guy. I mean, I’m on there, but my main thing is you’ll know more about me as the Wizards do better. My goal is to help this franchise to I work with some good people and we were trying to get a championship for the DCR.
For me, that would be Nirvana because I’m born and raised in the DC area. So that’s, the goal. And, you know, we’re working toward that.
Mike Klinzing: [01:19:29] if you can, if you can do it at home, it’s always sweeter.
Frank Ross: [01:19:33] There’s no question about that. Absolutely.
Mike Klinzing: [01:19:35] Absolutely. Well, Frank, I can’t thank you enough for spending some time with us tonight.
It’s been a lot of fun getting an opportunity to hear your story. And obviously it’s very unique and yeah. The different stops that you’ve had along the way, both in and out of the game. And we appreciate you taking the time to join us tonight and share that story and to everyone out there, thanks for listening.
And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.