Website – http://koreyharris.org/home.htm
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter – @KoreyHarris_
Korey Harris is currently an assistant basketball coach for the Chinese Basketball Association’s Beijing Royal Fighters under their head coach, former NBA All-Star Stephon Marbury.
Korey went to China in August of 2018 and was hired by Marbury to coach with the Royal Fighters in September of 2019.
Korey Harris has spent over 9 years under the mentorship of Ganon Baker. Korey is a certified instructor and camp clinician under Ganon Baker Basketball, and has experience teaching at numerous national skill academies, coaching clinics, team camps, pro training camps, and clinics.
Korey played college basketball on the JUCO, NCCAA, and NCAA levels and credits his development as a player to the same lessons he teaches on a daily basis to his clients. Korey finished his college career as a 2nd Team NCCAA All-American, 1st Team All-Region, and 1st-Team All-Conference Selection. He tied the Trinity Bible College school record for most assists in a game (13), helped lead the school to its first ACCA National Championship appearance, and its first season with an undefeated home record in school history.
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Get ready to be inspired and learn from the journey of Coach Korey Harris, currently an assistant coach with the Beijing Royal Fighters in China.
What We Discuss with Korey Harris
- Getting a late start in basketball while growing up in Atlanta
- Looking up to Kobe Bryant
- Playing outdoor pickup hoops on the playground
- Trying to break into the main run and how the process of earning that right helped his development
- His playground nickname “Slim”
- Getting cut in high school every year and never making the team
- How he ended up at Hoftstra his freshman year in college and why he was in over his head at the walk-on tryout
- How poor choices caused him to leave Hoftstra
- Why being a good student opens college opportunities for you as a player
- Starting his Student of the Game Training Business and learning the game through coaching
- How he eventually got another shot at playing college basketball
- Why never made excuses or asked for anything of others he wouldn’t do himself
- Learning great habits from his Mom when it came to school
- Why developing skills but not knowing when to apply them is a problem
- The effectiveness of multi-player workouts
- Designing workouts around what players actually do in games
- Putting players in decision making situations and drills
- Taking your drills and forcing players to make a decision as part of the drills
- Traveling to China to work clinics, mainly with young kids
- Meeting Stephon Marbury and impressing him with his work ethic & energy
- The story of being hired by Marbury to coach in China with the Beijing Royal Fighters
- Work hard where you are now and opportunities will come
- Putting the players first in his role with the Royal Fighters
- Being willing to do stuff nobody else wants to do & having no ego is important as a young assistant coach
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THANKS, KOREY HARRIS
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TRANSCRIPT FOR KOREY HARRIS – ASSISTANT COACH OF THE BEIJING ROYAL FIGHTERS & THE FOUNDER OF KOREY HARRIS BASKETBALL – EPISODE 324
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host, Jason Sunkle. Tonight. We are pleased to welcome to the podcast from the Beijing Royal Fighters, skills coach Korey Harris. Korey, welcome to the podcast.
Korey Harris: [00:00:14] Mike. Thanks for having me.
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:16] We are excited to have you on dig into the things that you’ve been able to do thus far in your young basketball career as a coach, and go back and talk a little bit about what you learned as a basketball player.
And let’s start by going back in time. When you were a kid, talk to us about how you came to the game of basketball. What made you fall in love with it?
Korey Harris: [00:00:34] Wow. A great question for me, it’s a little different from most. I started pretty late and that’s because I’m in the South, you know, in the early to mid nineties basketball, wasn’t a big deal, especially in Atlanta, Georgia.
That’s where I’m from originally. most of us, we played baseball, played football, ran track. So, I grew up playing in a Sandlot, playing sports for little league teams and things of that nature, [00:01:00] but there was no courts around us unless you play for the high school. You didn’t really get the chance to see the hardwood.
So, of course we had it on television, but I wasn’t really introduced to the game physically until I was probably about 10 or 11 years old. And, actually, we had to climb some fences, cut some holes and some fences in a neighboring neighborhood just to get to the basketball court. And, that’s when the journey began, you know, I wasn’t very good at the time.
Of course. And I think because I was so naturally good at other sports, but yet basketball was such a challenge to me. I gravitate it. More towards that. And I began to put down a lot of the other sports because I just love a challenge. I love trying to figure things out and overcoming obstacles. So even from a young age, I was just hungry to prove people wrong.
And I’m still in love with the game probably since like 96, 97.
Mike Klinzing: [00:01:52] What was it about basketball beyond the challenge? Something specific about the game itself that made you say, man, I got to really get [00:02:00] after this.
Korey Harris: [00:02:00] I think it was Kobe. like I said, 90, 95, 96, right? At the time he was drafted out of high school, you know, it wasn’t like, you know, when LeBron James or, you know, some huge, huge name came into the league, but he was still pretty much a young star that, you know, we all took notice of.
And so like, Michael Jordan was obviously the best player in the game, but I was a little too young to fully understand what he had already accomplished. So to see, you know, a young dude, coming out of high school and he’s making it to, you know, the Los Angeles Lakers, which is story franchise, but yet he’s like struggling and going through it by the time I was nine 10, you know, and I’m struggling to pick up the game.
And now he’s a star in the NBA. I’m thinking like, okay, I’m Kobe Bryant and I got, was almost trying to mimic and parallel like. His NBA career and like my young. So, of course, you know, you have your, your childhood heroes who Ken Griffey Jr., Barry [00:03:00] Sanders. How guys like that, but it was something different about Kobe was like the fact that he wasn’t wearing a football helmet or he wasn’t muted the way some other athletes are because their sport, the camera’s not in their face or.
You don’t get to see them up close and personal. The way you do with basketball is only five guys on the court at a time. So even the ratio of players in front of the camera is different. I don’t know. I just felt like I wanted to be him. So I met another guy by the name of Corey Harris, crazy story. He was the starting point guard at the neighborhood high school Osborn high school.
And. He was a pretty good player. And he lived in my apartment complex in our project and he put a ball in my hand. So the first time him and another guy named Brian Elmore. And so, you know, just from them showing me how to dribble or showing me how to shoot or teaching me how to make my first layup on a 10 foot round, double ramp.
That was, that was like all I needed, you know, it was like the first time I’d ever been coached, so to speak. [00:04:00]
Mike Klinzing: [00:04:01] So how much fun was it for you when you look back on those early years, having an opportunity to play basketball outside, which today kids just don’t get an opportunity to do something because in a lot of cases there isn’t courts available to them.
And if there are chances are they’re out there, there aren’t that many people playing on those courts. So what was it like for you growing up with outdoor basketball?
Korey Harris: [00:04:25] Oh, man. I don’t really know what it’s like to not have it, you know? So it’s, it’s kinda awkward for me when I talk to kids and they don’t relate in that way.
You always have to try to fix your brain when you’re dealing with players, whether they’re, you know, professionals nowadays, or, you know, you’re training a kid, you can’t approach them with that same kind of like grit. You know, some of them, they have it, but you have to manufacture it in different ways for me.
Maybe in the middle of the gangs, it didn’t feel fun because it was just so intense, but like you always look [00:05:00] forward to, and I think it was, you knew you couldn’t get on the court, you know, at certain times, because that’s when the grown man were playing. Like I grew up in an apartment complex. We had hundreds of kids, you know, in elementary, middle and high school that all live in our same area.
And so from maybe 10:00 AM to 12 on a Saturday or Sunday morning, you know, you could not get on that court. You had to just sit against the chain fence, and you had to just watch the older guys play. And if you were young and you were good enough to get on the court and then, you know, maybe they would allow you to play, but you, you kind of built a determination, you know, playing 21 games with 15 kids on one half court, you know, like, or, you know, playing knockout, you know?
Gotcha. You’re you’re shooting and it’s 20 people in a line, you know, or you gotta write your name on the ball. Someone will just steal your ball, you know, just walk off with it, you know, or you got to fight after a game, even though you won, they still try to put you off the court because they’re upset and they don’t want to get off.
So [00:06:00] like all those situations, they didn’t seem fun in the moment, but it did make the game fun because it gave you something to play for. And I feel like kids just need that. That’s how we have to manufacture it. That same experience now, like give them a reason to play every time they get it. Maybe it’s pride.
Maybe it’s representing your culture to sack or, you know, whatever it is. But I feel like I represented my neighborhood every time I played or every time I stepped foot on the floor.
Mike Klinzing: [00:06:26] How old were you when you cracked the main run for the first time?
Korey Harris: [00:06:30] Oh man, it was, it wasn’t quick. It took me years. I think, I think I was probably in high school.
By the time I was allowed to play. Cause we had moved. We lived in that apartment, complex styles, maybe in eighth grade, it got really dangerous. My mother just wanted us to get out of that community. So I went to it. neighboring high school up the road in another city called McEachern High School. And, when we got to that area, you know, I found another outdoor room.
You know, this time I was playing, in [00:07:00] what’s called hurt road part, the Atlanta Hawks, they laid some cement and they paved it and made it flat. And they kind of Chris’ into part before we had moved there, but it was like a famous park in that area. And so I think I was maybe a sophomore, you know, maybe 16 years old.
And I had one good run on a Sunday, like 12 noon. Everybody’s parked out in the grass, barbecuing, you know, music blaring and they needed an extra one. And so they just asked me to get on the court. And, you know, you had to take your shirt off cause they were scanned. They weren’t giving me the ball. You know what I mean?
They definitely want to give me a ball, but I was picking up, you know, just trying to do what I could, you know, try not to get cussed out. And I think I came up on a couple of steals. Like, you know, the guy was, he probably was tired or something. I don’t know. He probably smoked and drank in between games, but caught him slipping and got a few stills, got a lay up.
And you know, my teammates hyped me up and I couldn’t get off the court. After that every time, you know, either we lost or, you know, somebody else needed a five and I came on the court, [00:08:00] my nickname was slim and they said, Slim’s gonna pick her up full courts and I’m going to bring the ball up and down the court.
He’s the point guard. But. Slim you just stand in a corner, you know? So I had to earn everything even, even on that court, you know,
Mike Klinzing: [00:08:14] That is awesome. I love so here’s a quick, I got, I got a couple of questions for you. I love playground basketball. I grew up in the same sort of fashion in terms of. Just always going and playing outdoor pickup basketball.
And I think that when I go back and look at my time playing, I always say that playing outdoor basketball with people of all different ages and backgrounds did so much for me as a basketball player. When you were talking about how. Your nickname was slim. And I could just, I could see all those older players just pointing me out and having no idea what your real name was and just, Hey, slim, man, go over there and do this and do that.
I just, I just think back to my time when I was playing my nickname, there was a guy I started playing maybe when I was. 13 or 14, like, I’d be the first [00:09:00] guy that would get up to the court so that I could try to get in that very first game and then maybe get a, get a chance to stay on the court.
Mike Klinzing: [00:09:06] But my nickname was West.
I had a guy who started calling me Jerry West. And so anybody, anybody, anybody who knows me from that era of my life. And now that era of my life is 34 so odd years ago.
So it was a long time ago, but ] there’s still, there’s people that know me from that year. and I’ll see them in nobody else in my current life really even knows.
Jason Sunkle: [00:09:28] I think, I didn’t know that. I know that I did not know that this is after doing 300 episodes. I thought I pretty much knew everything about too much. Good.
Mike Klinzing: [00:09:38] So, anyway, so it’s funny. Cause I’ll still see some of those people I’ll run into them and they’ll be like, Hey West. And then there’ll be people.
And there’ll be people who are with me at the time who are from my current life. And they’re looking at me like I’m crazy. They’re like they talk to. What do they need to be? But that resonated so much with me when you said, Hey, slim, go in the corner because I [00:10:00] could still remember people saying, Hey, go over here and do this and do that.
So trickle blast pick up basketball was just, it was phenomenal. So if you look at that time in your life and your development as a player, what’s something that you got out of pickup basketball and playing outside in the playground that you might not have been able to pick up. If you had. Growing up, a lot of kids grow up.
Korey Harris: [00:10:34] I think it was just more of a respect for the process. Like the process you have to go through as a player, you know, you don’t just step on the court and Oh, everybody gets to turn to play. You know, everybody gets equal playing time, or if your parents can afford. To pay the fee for you to go on the AAU circuit, then you get a Jersey.
You know, there was a lot of days of going out to the hurt roll park or my [00:11:00] neighborhood, you know, of course it was a converted tennis court. And I just like, you know, drop some poles into the ground and at the ends of the tennis court, when we ripped up the net in the middle and threw it in the woods that you, you went to that court a lot of days as a kid, not knowing if you were going to get even shoot.
You know, so if you had a ball, you might be able to dribble, you know, in the grass, outside of the chain fence, or you might be able to lean against the fence and maybe shoot if they went to the other side of the court for a little bit. But you know, you, you really understood, like I got it earned the chance to play with these guys.
And so, once I got to college and, you know, got the chance to play. It wasn’t as hard for me to stay at a school and not try to just like transfer or play the blame game. You know, when my coaches didn’t like me or didn’t like my game or were a little critical of me, it, wasn’t hard for me to understand that, you know, there was a pecking order with my teammates.
You know, we, I play with a player of [00:12:00] the year, you know, my junior year and a lot of guys could never do that and still keep there. They’re their pride. You know what I mean? They, they, they probably wouldn’t feel too comfortable in his, in his space as a player because you feel like, you know, he’s going to get the majority of the shots and majority of the minutes, if he makes a mistake, You know, we probably don’t have the time to yell at him, cuss him out.
But as soon as you make a mistake, it’s coming down on you. Those are just things that, you know, when you, when you have to work for something and no one’s telling you the rules, they’re just like unspoken rules. I think it makes a lot more sense to you. It’s caught, it’s not taught, like I didn’t sit in a classroom and have someone tell me one, two, three, four, five, you just kind of picked it up.
And kids nowadays, they can still learn those lessons, but again, it just has to be manufactured in a, in a different way. Yeah, I agree with
Mike Klinzing: [00:12:49] you. I think that’s a great way of looking at it manufactured versus sort of an organic way of learning those things where you’re like, Hey, you better play your role.
If you’re one of those guys [00:13:00] who said, who’s a fringe player on the playground who maybe shouldn’t be out on the court, or maybe you’re young and whatever. And boy, if I don’t play defense and pass the ball to the guy who was the big score on my team, if I start taking a lot of bad shots, I can be pretty sure that I’m not going to get picked up for the next game and said, those are lessons that.
You learn on the playground that you just don’t learn on the AAU circuit, unless as you said, unless those are manufactured and the coach is working with you and teammates and parents, and trying to get you to understand your role and all those kinds of things. I think in up basketball that’s stuff that just kind of happens.
Naturally. When you go back to those courts today, are people still playing out on the courts that you grew up on?
Korey Harris: [00:13:40] Oh man. Well, the one apartment complex where I grew up, you know, they, they tore those rooms down. a lot of times because of violence or just different things that would occur that they felt was a black spot in the community.
And so, it’s funny. I didn’t mention it before, but we would put milk crates on the fence. Like we [00:14:00] were going, we would still, Coca Cola crates from the delivery truck at the neighbor in high school. And we like melted the bottom of it out with a lighter, we would stomp out the bottom of the, of the crate.
And so we used clothes hanger than hang it up. But you know, the kids probably who came after us, you know, once we got older, they, I don’t think they love the game that much, you know, they probably did other things to figure out ways to have fun. so I think I visited there maybe two years ago just to see what that neighborhood was like.
I was in between my time here in China and, My my last little, I think I was maybe in the station two or three months and I, I just needed, I don’t know. I just needed to see like where I came from one day I wanted to inspire myself. I didn’t see anyone outside. It was kind of discouraging, but hurt road is definitely, always jumping in.
If the sun is out, you know, people are out there doing their thing and playing. I bumped into those guys that we used to play with now, like the grocery store, you know, they’re a little older now. They don’t, they don’t have [00:15:00] the knees in the, in the joints, you know, to get up and down. But anytime they see me, it’s just people look at me weird.
Like they don’t have the knees anymore.
Mike Klinzing: [00:15:11] That’s right. That’s awesome. That’s that is, that is so cool though. That’s awesome that people are still playing at the park and it’s cool that it’s so much fun to run into people from different areas at different times of your life. It’s just, you know, it’s one of those things that basketball does so well, it just connects people of all different.
Races, genders, ages, communities. And that’s one of the things that’s so great about the game of basketball. Let’s talk a little bit about your high school career. So obviously you start out you’re a little bit behind other people cause you get a late start in the game. So just talk about how you develop yourself into the type of player and then maybe give us a highlight or two from your high school career.
Korey Harris: [00:15:51] So this is the ultimate story of development and it’s going to be weird. So just kind. Fasten your seatbelt. [00:16:00] So eighth grade, I get my first opportunity to play on a new circuit. I had like a little part time job when I was in eighth grade just to help my mother out. And I will work with a summer camp program at one of the neighboring communities.
And so it was for like at risk youth and different people would come in and volunteer their time, but I was on staff and so. for maybe a summer, we had a coach who previously lived in New York. and he was an AAU coach, the gauchos, you know, the famous, organization and his name was John Walker. So he came and he looked me up, up and down and he said, you know, you look like a point guard, man.
Like, where do you play? And I said, well, I don’t play anywhere. You know, I, I don’t think I’m good enough. And he said, you know, nonsense. So he would take a group of us, you know, to the gym. And he would just kind of. Teachers work us out a little bit, but we didn’t know he was plotting on starting like a Atlanta chapter of the [00:17:00] gauchos.
And so. you know, he, he really liked my game and he took us to like this kind of round Robin tournament in downtown Atlanta. And this thing was like, you know, just bare knuckles, like no blood, no foul, like some of the referees were, I don’t know, maybe parents from the, from the crowd, you know, they just gave like a.
a shirt, you know, with some stripes on it, you know, somehow this thing was sanctioned and we were, you know, really playing real games. And, I was playing pretty well. You know, this is my, actually my first time playing like real organized basketball. And, he, he didn’t know that because I was too afraid to tell him, I thought he would make him.
You know, a little weary, you know, put me on his team. But when I finally told him after the first two games, he, it actually made him a lot more willing to work with me. Cause he thought he thought I had a lot of raw talent and he thought that that was great, that I didn’t have any like habits that maybe have been inserted from another coach.
There’s just bad [00:18:00] habits from playing in the streets. He could, we could work with that. So our third game, we played three games in one day, third game going for a layup on a fast break. And a kid just like, I don’t know why he thought he was going to chase down block it, but he tries to go LeBron and like painted off the glass.
And I’m still like coming down and we both just flip over into like a row of bleachers and chairs. Right. We’re just rolling into all the chairs, but like, I can’t stop. I try to get up. And my left arm has like a compound fracture in both like my upper arm as well as my forearm. And so, you know, I feel like.
I feel like my arms. Okay. I saw, I tried to put it my hand on the ground and pressed to get up and, you know, obviously it gave, and so that was it for, you know, a good couple of months I was done, but he kept in contact with me. And so he would take me to the gym, work me out and I would develop, you know, my opposite hand.
And I taught myself how to shoot my other hand. Cause I’m naturally lefthanded. So I tell myself, shoot my right. And he was like, well, I’m [00:19:00] going to call a coach and I want your mother to be about a phone because this could be big for you. So a coach calls me from Destin, Florida, Orlando, Florida. I can’t remember any more, but he has some type of basketball Academy where kids from around the country will come and basically like live there and just.
Eat sleep, breathe basketball 24 seven, and then they will put you in a school, you know, and it would just continue to develop your game. Kind of like how I am G is nowadays, but this is back in the early two thousands before that was like a big thing. So, coach, cause my mom flips on his coach, man.
She’s like the helicopter mom of all time, you know, like what you think I’m gonna send my baby all the way to. You know, God knows where I don’t know you. Like who do you think you are? Like, no, I’m crying. I’m like, yo, I was going to the NBA, man. You just killed it. Like it’s over now be working at McDonald’s, you know, so [00:20:00] I didn’t play.
And I went to go try out for my new high school, like their feeder program, that eighth grade team didn’t make the team. Because, you know, I just didn’t really know the game. I was still just a street ball player. And so, by the time I got to ninth grade and I was in high school, my skills were severely lacking and my IQ was severely lacking.
So like I said, this is a wild story. I actually didn’t play high school basketball at all. Through my four years of high school, I tried out every year. It made it to the last cut every year. And I had Josh Smith who ended up playing for the Atlanta Hawks or Morris Solomon made it to the Utah jazz. He was the leading scorer in the nation at Rice University.
we had, you know, a bunch of division, one players who eventually played overseas, you know, that I’m still friends with to this day, but those guys were formidable players, real players. And it didn’t matter that I had heart. It didn’t matter that I had, you know, when you don’t understand the [00:21:00] game, like you cannot compete with someone who does.
So I never really blamed my coach. I never blamed anyone. I just kind of took it on the chin and I just kept working. And, once I graduated high school, then I tried to set my sights on, well, if I, if I have to play my very first game of organized basketball in college, I’m going to do it. And so, like I said, it’s a wild story, but I ended up playing five years of college basketball and I was eventually a second team, all American, my senior year playing in a national championship game and lost my junior year is, is wild.
But, I couldn’t script it out. You know, if someone asked me to, I couldn’t write a story like that
Mike Klinzing: [00:21:43] After not having played. High school basketball. Obviously some things have to go your way in order for you to be able to get an opportunity to play in college. So talk about how that opportunity came to pass.
Korey Harris: [00:21:55] For sure. So, I didn’t understand the college game and like the differences [00:22:00] between division one, division two division three. I didn’t understand that there was even, you know, a Juco route that you could take. I didn’t know anything about NAI basketball. There’s an ACA level and CC AA, you know, Christian college basketball.
I didn’t know any of those things. So all I knew is I had it. NCAA hoops like 2K hoops, the video game. So I was like, man, I’m going to find a school on here. I’m playing a game. Like, you know, every day after school in high school and I’m thinking, Hmm, Hofstra university, you know, so I look it up Speedy Claxton was on the Atlanta Hawks.
She was like a backup point guard at the time. And he was six feet tall, you know, so I thought to myself, Okay, let me find out more about speedy. And, you know, I saw that that’s where he went Hofstra and I was like, man, I can do that. You know what I’m saying? I can, I can figure that out. You know, I can play.
So I, I put in an application, even though I’m getting scholarship [00:23:00] opportunities because of my academics from a bunch of other schools, I just go ahead and set my sights on Hofstra, you know? And I told my mom, I wanted to be an engineering major. You know, that I wanted to go to New York. She, she said, that’s fine.
And, you know, as long as I understood what I was getting myself into, she was support me. She didn’t know anything about, you know, the college process. So she was just kind of taking my lead. I don’t know if I can’t remember if it was Jay Wright, who was the head coach at the time, but. You know, they had a pretty successful program then within the colonial conference.
And, I just began calling the coaches every single day. That’s back when you could find all their contact info on the athletic website. So, you know, from the head coach all the way down to the, you know, grad assistants, I was emailing. Calling them. I even went and like tried to put some film together, playing in like a men’s league that time around the end of my senior year, you know?
And I still have those DVDs. I pay like two, $300 and [00:24:00] sent it to this guy who was like a professional video editor or whatever he called himself. And man, it was the worst film I’ve ever seen. Like this is not ball. Is life hoop, mixtape, anything worthy? It was, it was terrible. But, I took that and I tried to make it look as professional as possible, as far as, you know, all my info is on there.
My grade point average, my desire, major, all that stuff. I did the research, you know, and so I sent that to the coach and I think the coach, just the assistant at the time, he, he just felt sorry for me. He recognized my hunger. And so he finally picked up his phone one day after like a month of leaving messages every morning at eight, 15, eight, 15 hour call every morning.
And, even his personal assistant knew me by name, like, but she would see my number,
you know, it was, we developed a relationship, but one day he finally picked up the phone and he said, look, we can give you an opportunity for a preferred walk on spot. you know, we can’t promise you anything, you know, I see that you’re, [00:25:00] you know, barely six feet tall, you know, the division one level is tough, but you know, if you can, Get here as a student, then obviously, you know, you’ll be in the building to have the chance to try out.
So I go to New York, you know, first semester starts I’m, I’m living out the student life and I’m just patiently waiting for that day. And, again, still, like you gotta understand, I’ve only been training myself. I’ve been working out on my own. I’ve just been playing in the street or playing in the wrecks.
I still don’t have an understanding of the game, you know, so I get to, walk on trials finally. And man, I get torched torched. Like I’m talking. Why is he here? You know, like, Charles Jenkins, who was a freshman point guard at the time, he had just gotten to Hofstra as well. He eventually got drafted four years later about a Golden State Warriors dropped like 30 some points in his first, you know, NBA appearance, you know, so he’s there as a freshman.
He looks like. You [00:26:00] know, Eric Bledsoe at 18, right? If you can imagine just the physical stature of a six to six, three point guard with a full beard and a bald spot, why is he out here? You know, check his birth certificate. There’s no way, you know, it was just like, I was swimming in the ocean without a life jacket.
That’s what it felt like. It felt like I was gasping for breath every day. Time, we were doing something that required me to think like a point guard I was in shape, but I just couldn’t handle full court press. I couldn’t, you know, get the offense that I couldn’t initiate an action. I couldn’t get to a spot to get off.
I couldn’t get you the ball. And on the low block, even if you had your guys seal completely behind you, couldn’t make an open shot. You know, all of those things that you just naturally learn how to do by being put in those scenarios time and time again. Either didn’t have the confidence to do it, or I just had never done it.
So, the answer was no, you know, obviously you coaches, [00:27:00] you know, they were very gracious to me and I still appreciate them to this day for that, but, that discouraged me very greatly. And so once I walked out of that gym, you know, admittedly, just being honest, telling you guys the truth, like I felt like I had no reason.
To be in school anymore. And it, it led to me making some bad decisions as far as how I was spending my free time going to class attendance, you know, just, just being a young man. Like I built my life around becoming a basketball player instead of being a good person. And so when that was taken away from me, I didn’t have a leg to stand on and I bombed out, I actually got kicked out of the school.
I was asked to leave, you know, amongst other things. And, my mother had to drive all the way from Atlanta, Georgia. So pick me up and in Long Island, New York, New Hempstead, New York drive. And the longest, longest drive in my life. My mother didn’t speak to me once and you know, we’re, we’re [00:28:00] close. She she’s always been, you know, my number one, number one fan, surely to support her everything.
So it crushed me. And when I got home, I made the decision that I wasn’t gonna allow other kids to make the same bad decisions. Not understanding what it takes to be a good person, a good man, a good woman, and then a good basketball player. And so I just started a business. I started a company, I formed an LLC called Student of the Game Training coach.
I started coaching within the young life and recreational basketball leagues in my area, you know, six year old, seven year olds. And that allowed me to learn the game as they learned the game. You know what I mean? Because in order to teach, you have to be able to, you know, first learn. And so I spent a lot of times just in coaching clinics or in high school practices or watching tapes or just going to games.
And I wasn’t a fan of the game anymore. I really became that student of the game. And I’m five years to five years past, I was paying back my, [00:29:00] my debt to the university of Hoftstra. And it was about $40,000 in, you know, paying that back over the time. It, it kind of set my sights more towards business, but the love of the game never left.
And so I got the opportunity to play again through a guy. I was training his daughter. His name is Loni Edwards. I used to have to drive an hour and a half across the city in on Thursdays to go and train her. She really good player. And I appreciate it, you know, their, their, their business and the opportunity to work with them.
And he looked at me one day. He said, man, you look like you still got a lot of gas left in the tank. He didn’t know anything about my street ball days, but he called me slim. When he said that, when he said that Mike, it touched a part of my heart that hadn’t been touched in a long time. And it was like someone saw me again as a player I had become Coach Korey.
You know, in the eyes of local high school players or middle school, you know, whatever level. But when Lonnie called me, you know, man, Slim, you would like, you can still play. And he’s just [00:30:00] speaking slang. He’s just, you know, just talking, but it reminded me of something that I really wanted and I desired and I needed it and I knew I can never really be a good coach if I at least didn’t have the experience that my players went through.
I got tired of reading articles and watching documentaries. And using those as object lessons, you know, in my, training session, I got tired of like having to relate what my players were dealing with with like, you know, struggling to understand what their coach needs from them, or lack of playing time or struggling to earn more points.
I got tired of having to go and find other people’s stories. And so I knew I needed to play. I just knew I wasn’t going to ever like rise to a certain level if I didn’t have the experience. So. When he said that I was immediately wide-eyed and ready to listen. And he actually called two coaches. He called Tony Markopoulos from Cabrio College in Santa Cruz, California.
And he called another [00:31:00] coach, in South Georgia. The one in South Georgia didn’t work out. And, you know, I wanted to go there because obviously it was closer to home. I’m so blessed and I’m so grateful that it worked out for me to go to California. Coach Tony was a whole, in every sense of the word.
And I don’t care if he’s listening now, he knows that, but he, he he’s, he’s a very honest guy, no BS, like. He’s in your face, you know, spit flying and he’ll throw stuff and whatever he gotta do to get through to you. So I was down for it and that year was the toughest year of my life playing junior college basketball in a very fast pace.
League like in California, where you have NBA, future NBA players and all types of, you know, Scouts and people just all around you putting that pressure on you to succeed. But, you know, it taught me again how to go from being at the end of the bench. You know, I was beyond the end of the day. It’s like, I probably sat beside the water cooler.
Like I was probably detached from the bench, you know, [00:32:00] I was on the team, but I went from there to, you know, earn a little time, dealt with an injury, bounce back from that. Met great people develop thicker skin and learn the fundamentals of the game. Just through practicing. You know, I was pretty much a practice guy and a four year school,you know, that I had a mutual friend where they needed a point guard called Crossroads College.
They were really struggling at the time and, they kind of liked my attitude and they brought me up for a workout in Rochester, Minnesota that summer. And so I did really well there and I was the team captain and next year, but, Just started on a journey. So I was at Crossroads for two years, we broke a school history, made school history.
I went undefeated at home my second year there. First time school had been ranked in the NCAA as a Christian college, and we were one of the best teams in the nation we lost. And I think like the sweet 16 at a national tournament school closed down, after my second year because of. Lack of funding [00:33:00] and all types of things.
So I didn’t know where I was going to go. And right before the deadline passed to get back into school again, if you go to play Jordan Knoll, a coach from Trinity Bible College gave me a call out of the blue and offered me the chance to come and be his point guard. The next year he has some films and I forgot we had even played them, but I had given him a triple double.
So he was like, man, I still remember, like I came over there and. Broke their CIS record. We went to a national championship. My dream year. It was the first time the school had reached one. my second year, you know, I went on to be a second team, all American, all conference, and I just had a wild ride, but you know, I never cut any corners.
Mike, I never, never made excuses. I never asked for anything from someone else that I wouldn’t do myself. I, I cry real tears, you know, after my senior night mother wasn’t there and no one. That, you know, I felt that actually was a part of my journey, you know, from [00:34:00] start to end, could see it at the end, but it was still beautiful in its own way.
I’m thankful for it. And it prepared me for what I’m doing now, which is to work with people who actually love the game to the point where they’ll sacrifice, you know, just to become a professional. You know, I felt like I always was going to be that I just maybe started too late or I didn’t have the resources to do so.
That’s my journey.
Mike Klinzing: [00:34:23] That is a fantastic journey. It really is. And I want to pull out a couple things that as you’re going through it, there’s a couple of things that stood out to me and one was right from the very beginning and you kind of glossed over it, but I think it’s something that if a player is out there listening, or a coach is out there listening, I think it’s a story that is relatable.
And that is when you talked about the opportunity to go to Hofstra. You talked about the fact that. Your grades were so important. And you didn’t talk very much about having good grades and why that was important, but clearly that had [00:35:00] something to do with the opportunities that came to pass for you in college, where if you hadn’t been a good student, those opportunities might not have come.
So just talk a little bit about where that focus from academics came from. Did it come from your mom that had come from inside of you? A combination of both. Just talk about why the academic side of it was so important and sort of where you ended up and how you went along your journey.
Korey Harris: [00:35:22] For sure for sure.
I think it probably started when I was maybe in like kindergarten, first grade. you know, I had a very tough, first couple of years, you know, and just, you know, regular school, like my kindergarten teacher. it’s funny how you remember the ones that like really either pushed you or really like made life hard for you.
But, I had a teacher named Ms. Jacoby. And I don’t know what it was about that old lady. Like I’m a naturally quiet person in public. So in school I was pretty quiet, not in say a lot. And it wasn’t out of, like, I just [00:36:00] was a good kid. I feared my mother, man. I wasn’t trying to have my mom come to the school.
I didn’t want to think about my mom. You know, mom was like, Jason, if you run, she goes, she’s gonna slow stroll somehow. She’s right there waiting on your side. I was a good kid in school just for that. And this is Kobe just had it out for me. I remember finishing kindergarten and first grade with her, like all A’s and she still requested that I be held back and, it, it just kind of threw me it, the principal I got involved, it was like a big deal within the school.
It turned into like this. This thing within a Bernie elementary, where a lot of parents were questioning she’s at school. But when my mom did it actually inspired me even to this day, like it stands out and it’s probably why academics are so important. She was drew me from school and see, decided to homeschool me, even though she had, she had not completed high school herself, you know?
So, You can only imagine what it’s like to be [00:37:00] at home as a kid being homeschooled. And your teacher is someone who’s buying the curriculum with you. You know? So like I would listen to my mother, like struggled to read certain words and teach ourselves, you know, definitions and pronunciation. And we do hooked on phonics together.
We did all types of things together. I wrote book reports and, you know, That was, that was the atmosphere within my home. There was an atmosphere of always learning. You know, we were both students, she got her GED at the same time while, you know, I was at home being homeschooled every day. And, she would still have to go to work and she worked two to three jobs at the time.
So there were even days where like I would go through the curricul it was called a Becca curricul I would go through the math, English and all that stuff, sitting at the dining room table on my own. And, you know, she would come home and check it, of course, but that kind of like, just, I don’t know.
I won’t say I was a loner, but that individualistic mindset where, okay. My mom’s doing everything she can to not [00:38:00] only teach me this stuff, she’s learning it on her own. And she’s like supporting us as a single mom. it was, it was like, it created attitude in me where I can’t lose. I can’t fail. Failure is not an option.
Like I gotta get this. I gotta go hard. I gotta get all A’s. I got it. You know, do whatever is necessary. But then when I got to the fifth grade I requested, I asked my mom, I said, can you let me go back to public school? Because I feel like I’m behind. Like, you know, you develop a voice as a kid, you start figuring out stuff you need or what you think you need.
And I kind of feel awkward when I be outside with my homie. He’s like, I’m inside all day and I don’t know what’s going on. And you know, obviously school is the biggest thing in the world to a kid. It’s where you learn all your social stuff. I just said my, I think I need to go back. And so when she threw me back in the mix in a public school, I was so far ahead of everybody, you know, I was like three, four.
You know, grade levels above my counterparts. And I was reading on a 12th grade reading level. By the time I was six, seventh grade. So [00:39:00] by the time I got to my senior year, I had already taken my SATs two, three times. You know, I had already, you know, did all the things necessary to be, you know, a college student.
but I still lacked just the follow through of being bold enough to be proud of the fact that I was like smart or that I. You know, was someone who cared a lot about my grades. Cause my environment was still, you know, surrounded by people who didn’t care about academics. You know, I, I didn’t have any friends who went to college.
I was the first in my immediate family to go to college. You know, I had never even met anybody who went to college and like graduated and got a degree as crazy as that sounds like that was my reality. So never seeing a campus, never talking to anyone who has that experience. You don’t know like the ins and outs, you don’t even really know how to study.
You know what I mean? You don’t know how to do the things that you’re going to eventually have to do. You can get in a false sense of reality where you, you feel like you’re prepared even though your [00:40:00] grades weren’t important. But I think sometimes we put too much of an emphasis on just like getting really good grades and we forget to teach.
So teach the kids how to be like individuals who understand what this stuff actually translates to in the real world. You know what I mean? because those classes and the stuff you’re learning, you’re probably not going to use that, but you are going to use the habits that you learned as you aspire to be great in those classes.
If that makes sense, right?
Mike Klinzing: [00:40:35] That’s the same, it’s the same conversation I have with them all the time. You know? They’re like, why are we, why are we why we’re learning this? I’m never gonna know. I’m like, yeah, but you’re going to learn how to learn. That’s what you’re learning.
Korey Harris: [00:40:44] Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So I, I was struggling in that area, but yes, the fact that I had a, you know, three nine or whatever GPA I had at the time, I had almost a perfect sat score back when it was out of like 2,400, I think [00:41:00] I got like a 2190.
As a sophomore, you know, and then I retook it and get, you know, got a little bit better he’s time, you know, all that stuff. Open up options. I mean, we had mail coming in my junior year and I didn’t even really know what that meant. Like I had. Arizona state old miss university of Florida. I go to Georgia state, Georgia tech, UGA, you know, like I had options.
I just chose Hofstra because I thought, Ididn’t even understand like, Oh, you should be looking into these schools because these are actually going to lead you to doing what it is you are going to be doing one day or what you could be doing one day. Like I just was so focused on basketball, but. You, you actually don’t even qualify to have the chance to sit in front of certain schools or a certain coach, even if you are a great basketball player, if your grades are bad, you know, like working with kids now, I I’ve worked with a lot of kids back in the last, you know, four or five years, state of [00:42:00] Georgia where all, you know, state or all, whatever.
And, you know, they took the Juco route. Why wasn’t cause you know, no one wanted them. They had to go there for a year or two to get there. Oh, the associates, you know, just to lift up their GPA and qualify. And some didn’t even go to college because their grades were so bad, they just got swept through the system, you know?
So it’s a sad thing, but I’m glad it went that way for me, you know? Cause I don’t think I’d be as hungry as I am now. You know, if I didn’t have it that way, if I maybe just got fed through the system like others, I wouldn’t understand it.
Mike Klinzing: [00:42:39] I think that there’s no question that when you think about the system and the way college recruiting works, if you have the grades and you take care of that part of it.
And the other thing that kids don’t always realize is that starts from the time you’re in ninth grade. And those grades start having an impact. And so [00:43:00] often you see kids who, by the time they’re a junior and they start thinking about, well, maybe I want to play college sports. And now they, they got two years on their high school transcript that they got C’s D’s F’s whatever.
And it’s just limits your options and for you that wasn’t an issue. And I think that’s a huge, huge benefit for any kid. Any players out there listening to any parent is out there listening. Cracked out on the academics right away. Get that taken care of because it just opens up many more athletic options for you.
If you have the grades, you just have way more colleges have way more places that you can choose from. We all know the more choices you have, the better option. You’re probably going to find it’s going to fit you in what it is that you’re all about. All right. The next thing I want to ask you from your journey is you talked to a few times about.
Try to develop your basketball IQ and the fact that not having played high school basketball and just playing street ball worked on your own on your game, that [00:44:00] the IQ piece of it is something that maybe was difficult to learn in terms of what it’s like to play organized basketball, as opposed to playing pickup basketball at the playground.
So how did you go about. How did you go about learning and improving your IQ? Was it just a matter of being exposed to coaching and being a part of a program? Or were you doing other things, like you mentioned when you had started your business, going to clinics, watching tape, just describe your process of what you think enabled you to eventually develop a much higher basketball IQ than you had when you left high school.
Korey Harris: [00:44:39] For sure. So this is a shout out, first of all, to all of the trainers out there and to all of the kids who have trainers first, I’m talking directly to them. as trainers, we don’t realize that we create drill robots and as players, [00:45:00] we don’t even know when a trainer is just like putting batteries in height, the hardware necessary to become a drill robot in us. Like for me as a coach, I was a coach before I really became a real player. my kids, you know, for the hour, two hours, whatever I was gifted with working with them for, they only experienced, like go to this cone, go to that cone Euro step layer, you know, like that, that was the totality of what we were doing, you know?
And so. We think we’re teaching these kids how to play. We’re teaching these kids how to drill, you know, we’re teaching these kids how to do the move within this setting. You, you falling for the move or you sliding and letting the kid crossover, you know, just, you know, so that they can get to the next spot and then do whatever you told them to do at the next step.
That’s not the game. And so, although I [00:46:00] had the work ethic of. You know, whoever you want to call. Like, I worked crazy hard. I didn’t know where that stuff applied. So it was all like, you know, a blind man basically feeling his way around the room, you know, like I had, there was no real. System to how I approached playing, practicing.
I didn’t know what to even do first. I didn’t know the mindset of a player. So I think number one is the atmosphere has to be created. So, you know, once I got into a setting that was organized and here’s why we work on these things in practice, I’m working with other people, you know, like up to the, up to my first couple of years in college, I had never, worked out with you no more than two or three other people. You know what I mean? Like, just thinking about that. Like, I had shot jumpers in the gym, but other than that, I just played, so I never did like a pick and roll breakdown with a big, another guard on me, a big garden, the screener [00:47:00] and a shooter in the corner, like, you know, with the defender playing help and tagging the roll, man.
I never, I never did a breakdown like that three on three, and then you just play live. But when I got to college, That was the type of stuff we did for the last 30 minutes, the last hour, you know? So your learning curve it’s steepens, and it gets a lot more vast when, you know, you don’t have that experience.
It’s hard for you to catch up to everybody else, you know, but then once you get pushed into that situation again and again and again. Okay. Now you can actually start thinking about. What moves work here and setting up that pick and roll. And what are your reads when you first come over the top of the screen?
Whereas the screen is defender, you know, is the roll man open or is he tagged? I can hit the issue. Now you start thinking on a much more elevated level and if it’s filmed, you can watch it again and watch it again. And you know, Oh man, I missed this. And then you add two other players on the weak side, and now you.
[00:48:00] Okay. A weak side spot up, or man, he cut and I didn’t hit him. Or man, I drove into help and you know, I didn’t even know where my next pass was. Like all of those things became open to me, you know, once I played and I think again, I’m talking to trainers and I’m talking to players who have trainers. If you’re not using situations or the game to actually create workouts.
Then you’re failing your players. If you’re a coach or you’re failing yourself and you’re hindering your IQ, if you’re a player, because as a player, it’s your right to come into a workout and be educated, not by the trainer. Who’s actually working with you now, but be educated before it starts to say, Hey, here’s what I do in games.
Here’s what I do. Based on what my coach is telling me to do. Can you put me in this? How do I, what do I do in this situation? This happened to me last game. And obviously, you know, if it’s an elementary school kid, he’s not going to be able to, you know, articulated that much, but he might still say, Hey [00:49:00] coach, I get scared when players play too close, what do I do when people pressure me?
You know? And so now as a player within that area of my journey, man, I just started developing a lot more rapidly and it didn’t feel fast at the time we want to be great today, you know, but. I was, I was getting better, you know, and it was because I knew what to work on. So now in the summer is after the school year is over.
I’m taking my playbook home and my workouts are literally me getting shots from the spot in that play, you know, or me having to bring the ball up. And I don’t have any defense on me, but I know where traps actually come from because I got trapped playing Juco basketball. I turned it over. I didn’t get the ball into the middle.
I dribbled to the sidewalk. You know, like all of those things now may sense. And then as I continue to coach and be a trainer, now my training became a lot more crisp. It became a lot more realistic, you know, [00:50:00] and I, I think, to build a basketball IQ, you can’t drill it. You know, you have to immerse a player first into the game and you can do that through a video, which is a simulation, so to speak.
You can do that through an action, a breakdown. If it’s one on one or two on two or three on three, four, four, you know, that’s how they do it in Europe. And then of course, if you can do it in a five on five setting where you’re forcing the one team to play out of a certain action or a play, and then the defense is going to, you know, strategically try to break it and stop it.
Then now you got growth. But if you’re not doing that, you’re just a drill robot or you’re just working on. My new detail within the game, you know, like Kobe working on a turnaround jump shot. That’s not IQ in itself, but it can become IQ if it’s detailed to the point where he’s picking it apart and when to use it, how to use it, blah, blah, blah.
So, I, I just kinda, [00:51:00] I don’t know. That’s a tough question to answer. I hope what I’m saying makes sense, but I just feel like. You know, I just always took the game and the game told me that it was like a cheat sheet, the film, or the experience from practice out, write it down in journals. I will write writing in notebooks that literally gave me the blueprints of how to work and increase my IQ.
If I got cussed out by Coach Tony, I literally would write down like, Even with the customer is like, what are you saying?
You know, dang it, Korey, you know, you’re supposed to reverse pivot in reverse the ball. Like our right Korey should have reverse pivot. You know, like I kept a running journal of my F ups and my successes as well. So enough play there aren’t enough players today, or maybe there’s not enough coaches who are telling players the truth.
You don’t really need us. You know, my job is a, is a luxury, you know, I’m, I’m just being a real, like the five players on the floor. Don’t really need a [00:52:00] skill coach saying how long the game has been in existence. Right. And skill training or skill coaches are the newest addition to the game. The rules haven’t changed very much.
The lines, the parameters of the court haven’t changed very much. You know, the shot clock has been around for a good while. Now we’re not shooting four pointers or five pointers yet. There’s nothing really new about the game, but you add in this additional coach, teacher, whatever you want to call it. And.
Now we’re the ones who seem to be the wisest. We have the most information. We’re the smartest, how does that work? We’re the newest, you know, so we should be going to the game to get our information and then just reflecting that to the players. But we want it to be this thing. That’s self-serving sometimes.
So we’re only drawing from what we believe or our philosophy, or this is what I think. Man. It’s not about what you think. It’s, what is the game say? [00:53:00] You know what I’m saying? The game has been here and it’ll be here even after I’m gone. So let that teach the player, you know, and, and, and put it in a way where they can understand it and chew on it and digest it.
But, you know, if we’re not doing that, we’re doing a disservice, just trying to be creative like that.
Mike Klinzing: [00:53:19] No, that makes a ton of sense. I want to pull out a couple of things that you said there. One is, I love how you talked about having the player come with an idea of what it is that they want to learn, what it is that they actually do in a game, and then going to their trainer and saying, Hey, I need to work on this because this is what I do within the confines of my.
Team structure. And to me, that’s something that a lot of times is lost in the training business, where you just have a trainer who’s working on, okay, I have this generalized workout and I do this workout. Every single player that [00:54:00] comes through the door. And I think the really good trainers are the ones who AE are always working on their craft and try to get better and learning the game so that they understand lots of different situations so that when a player comes to them, They can develop that situation, be able to give their players an opportunity to get involved in that particular action.
And then I think the second thing is is that if a kid doesn’t come to you or a parent, doesn’t come to you with an idea of, these are the things that we want to work on because we’re doing this then to me, that’s the trainer’s job to go to that player, to go to that parent, to go to their high school coach or whoever it is, that’s coaching them during their season and say, What does this player need to work out?
Where do they need to, where do they get the ball? What are things that they do? And I think if you do that, then as you’ve said, you’re actually serving the needs of your players, which is really what it’s all about. And then the other thing that I thought about when you were talking about. Kobe breaking down and working on his turnaround jump shot.
[00:55:00] And you talked about how that’s not working on basketball IQ, but it can be coach working on basketball IQ. And I think what I thought of when you said that was that you have to develop. A skill in order to be able to perform it again, you have to have the ability to just let’s keep it simple. You have to be able to shoot it.
You have to be able to shoot a jump shot, but there’s so much more that goes into that in a game other than just standing in front of a shooting machine and shooting 200 shots from the same spot you have to go and you have to move and you have to figure out, make a decision. Should I shoot? How do I get open and get my shot?
What kind of footwork do I need when I’m moving left or right when I’m moving forward, when I call it off the screen with whatever it is. And so I think basketball is such a decision making sport that too often what we do is we focus on the skill and we forget the decision. And I almost think, and tell me, tell me what your thought is on this.
I [00:56:00] almost think that it’s easier to overcome. The lack of skill by having being a good decision maker. Whereas you can have a ton of skill, but if you don’t have the ability to make a good decision and you don’t have a basketball IQ, it’s almost impossible to get you out of a four, but if you’re lacking in skill that you have some IQ, I think that’s probably a better combination.
Obviously you put a bowl together and that’s really what you want, but I just think basketball is such a decision making skill. And we oftentimes. As trainers, I think coaches at all levels sometimes forget that it’s a decision making skill. And when you teach the players how to make decisions and you give them room to make decisions and then evaluate those decisions, that’s when we really see an improvement in a player’s game.
Korey Harris: [00:56:45] No. I agree with you a hundred percent, my best that’s the best way you can put it. but do most of us know early on in our coaching careers or, you know, training careers, do we really know how to [00:57:00] create. Decision-making situations and drills. Probably not, probably not the main, whereas we’re still learning the we’re still learning the ability to break down just the skills and the foundations of maybe a move, you know, like a right to left crossover or whatever.
So, because we’re so hyper focused on just. The ability to break it down and be, you know, very professional sounding where we speak and articulate, you know, then we just give ourselves a Pat on the back. Once we get to that, that mountain, top that point of being able to just, you know, teach it. But now the greatest, you know, like you said, the greatest level of being able to teach it is actually showing the player when to use it like that kid that’s on that shooting machine.
When do you shoot, when you shot faking and drive, when you swing it one more to the guy who’s even more open than you. That that’s something that we have to aspire to, you know, that has to be at the forefront and it needs to be purposeful. Like you need to get in a gym and with every single skill that you [00:58:00] touch on that day, at least finish it for two or three minutes at the end of maybe that five minute segment, 10 minutes.
With something that forces that player to do decision making group make a decision like this morning, I worked with, I’m a rookie point guard on our team. He has a Chinese name. That’s hard for people to remember, but I’ll just call him by his American name. So he, he’s not playing a lot. He struggles sometimes in practice.
And so practices are like, his games puts a lot of pressure on himself yesterday. Yeah, this also practiced the day before he got killed. You know, so it’s a, it’s a dog eat dog Lee, you know, when you play in the pros and this is the time of year when we have draft prospects come and work out. So this is critical for him, you know, to play well against someone that’s literally coming in to take his job next year.
If you think about it. So he’s frustrated, he wants to know how to get better. And he’s super hungry. So we get in the gym every morning at eight 15, like we did today and we’re working and we’re just talking about [00:59:00] bringing the ball up against pressures, you know, initiating the options, getting the ball to the high post cause we play out of the pinch post.
He struggles with that. So. Of course I’m teaching him how to dribble from a closed stance, how to attack the defendant’s hips to get the ball across half court, where to stop, what angles to try to get that initiating pass, you know, thrown to the high post front. And it’s easy to see that he’s picking it up, but there’s no pressure.
There’s no decisions. So what do we do before we even move on before we stop and go to a water break for two minutes. Now he has to decide. On a secret for the ambulance pass, which way is he going to fake? And in which way is he gonna loop in and get the ball based on how I guard them or based on, you know, what I call using my voice as the defense, then he’s got to decide which way to go with this is driven.
Once he puts the ball down, he’s got to decide on how to get the ball to the outpost based on where the defense is denying. We’re playing behind the high post. Like those are simple [01:00:00] things, but man, for five, six years of my training career, I fell on my players because. I just consciously did not approach training or practices or teaching like that.
And as a player I was failing because I didn’t know how to even do that in my own workout. You know what I mean? I didn’t have an imagination. I just brainlessly mindlessly worked on a move or shot jumpers, you know? So, I apologize for being long winded, but that’s, I feel like that’s the, that’s the real topic that a lot of coaches.
Need to focus on. It’s not so much like, man, I need a new drill. No, you just need a new way to take that old drill you got and force the place to make decisions out of it.
Mike Klinzing: [01:00:44] That’s so true. And I think that there’s ways that you can take the things that you’ve been doing. If you’re a traditional coach and be able to put those things into more of a games based approach, more of a situational approach, more of a decision making approach.
[01:01:00] Just by could be, let’s say it’s a one-on-one workout just by adding yourself into the workout and making sure that your player has to make a decision based on the way you line up as a defender or how you play them coming off a screen or whatever it may be. And then obviously you can take it to the next level.
If you’re having a multiple player workout and you can go one on one with the two players, or you can go two on two, if you have that, that just provides so many more opportunities than just having. Let’s say you have a three person workout where those three players are just all working on the same skill, but never really going against each other, being put into situations.
I think that’s one of the things Korey, that what I’ve seen over the course of time is that you see a lot more people. There’s still, not everybody. There’s still, I think a lack of tons of coaches that are doing it, but I think you’re starting to see a shift all from a. Skills trainer point of view, but also from a high school college point of view, where coaches are starting to understand [01:02:00] that when you’re coaching your team, it’s important to be able to put them into situations and not just work on skills in isolation, like we talked about earlier, and that’s really how you begin to say improvement.
And yet at the same time, I think one of the things that. You often, I don’t know if I hear coaches complain about it or worry about it, but I think it’s easier to run what looks like an organized training session or organized practice by having lines and having our kids do the same thing over, over again.
I’ll look good. They aren’t messing up this crossover dribble. As opposed to having to play three on three, where it looks like a boy, this looks disorganized and man, those kids can turn the ball off their foot. And so I think that sometimes there’s a perception issue with coaches when it comes to maybe their hesitation to incorporate some of the things that we’re talking about.
Korey Harris: [01:02:51] That’s right. That’s right. I agree.
Mike Klinzing: [01:02:53] All right. So let me ask you this. I want to talk briefly about what your playing career is over. How do you [01:03:00] restart your training business, what that looks like for you? And then after we talk about that, let’s talk a little bit about how the opportunity to go over and work with the Royal Fighters in China, how that came to be.
Korey Harris: [01:03:24] So, in the, in the summers, you know, between my college basketball seasons always maintained, you know, my client base in Atlanta, Georgia. I always looked to meet up with my mentor who actually connected us to together and Baker, you know, I would go down to Florida and sit in on some of his lectures or be a part of his coaching clinics.
Pre-draft stuff. So I was, I was never really detached from, my business, you know, student of the game. It’s, it’s always been running for the past, 11, 12 years now. And, you know, I tried to even sort of morphine, as I was playing where, while I was gone for, you know, the fall, the winter and spring times, you [01:04:00] know, in each year I would do more online or virtual work with players.
I never really got into the virtual training, so to speak of like videoing myself, Oh, or doing like live stuff. you know, I wish I could, but I was just so focused on my playing career that I didn’t feel like I had the energy to, you know, take that much time away from working out and focusing on the student.
But I definitely did, you know, a player analysis breaking now, footage, you know, evaluating films, you know, sending them back, you know, the things that I saw that were either strengths or weaknesses, you know, trying to help players get recruited. You know, so those things, they, they continue to be a source of connection between me and the players.
Once I got to my senior year, I actually was given the opportunity to leave school early and go potentially play in the Philippines. Gannon called me, one day just in the middle of, I think it was first semester before we even reached the halfway point. Can you say, you know, there was just an opportunity that I could be like a player coach, so to speak.
[01:05:00] One of the leagues. I don’t know if it was the PBA or if it was a lower league in the Philippines, but you know, it was paying and, it was a real, like crossroads for me. I had to try to, you know, call myself and figure out like, what was best in that moment was this immediately going to deter me from the things that I wanted to do in my future, which was, you know, become a coach one day in the NBA or was this kind of leaning towards that.
And so I kind of felt, you know, at that point with my age, You know, it took me so long to get back into school. And I finally developed that consistency and just the humility to approach every single day. Like it was a blessing, you know, as a student, again, I couldn’t just derail, you know, my, my, my senior year and kind of lead my teammates hanging as well as, you know, not finish and get my degree.
So I, you know, I told him no, and once I got my degree, you know, everything was cool, but now I had to make a choice as to where to go next. I had the opportunity to take some grad assistant jobs, as well as [01:06:00] some, head assistant jobs with various colleges around the country, just from working relationships.
but again, I thought about, does this leave me ultimately, you know, towards my goal. And, they seemingly would have, I’m not going to shoot them down or, you know, be disrespectful and say that a college coaching job wouldn’t have, but. I just didn’t have a gut feeling about, you know, pursuing any of the stuff that was on the table at that point.
So again, and actually came back around and told me about the opportunity to, you know, take 12 months to travel to China. And do coaching clinics. And so that felt a little bit more flexible to me. Like, Hey, here’s an opportunity for just one year of your young life to go and experience another culture work within the game, create different relationships, learn more as well as, you know, impact an entire basketball community.
That is somewhat still untouched. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s very raw in its nature. So, you know, I, I [01:07:00] talked with my peoples about it for a little bit and, and I’ll prayed over it and I made the decision that I was going to pursue it. So, you know, I’ve been in China now since 2018. And when I originally came, I wasn’t working with a professional organization and I wasn’t with the CVA.
I was actually working with children, you know, every day. And it was a little bit, humbling in a way of. It made me feel like I had taken a step backwards, you know? I’m not saying that they lied to me before I came here, but it definitely didn’t. They didn’t, they didn’t paint the picture of me working with babies.
You know, people, kids who’ve never even touched the basketball scene of basketball. I was doing classes outside with no REM, no court like, you know, on turf or I’ll be outside, you know, on the sidewalk. You know, outside of the school house, you know, with six year olds. And it was more of just like being a glorified Pecos, like I would just come in and work for an hour or two hours and then just go home or go [01:08:00] back to the office where our training business, you know, was headquartered at.
And so I had a lot of time, you know, to like think to myself, like, why am I here? Like, what is my purpose that I miss that I missed the Mark on this one. I make a bad choice. You know, I could be working with. You know, division one girls I could be working with, you know, guys, blah, blah, blah. I just made the decision.
Ultimately like, you know what? These kids may not be LeBron James or, you know, Yonis or James harden, but I’m going to treat them like NBA, all star. And so after about a month or two of feeling, sorry for myself, I just kind of put on my hard hat and went to work every single day. Like it was my opportunity.
It was my interview. It was my, you know, try out all over again. And, No, the parents, they loved it. Everyone who would see the workout. So the practices began to fall in love with the energy created by other Chinese counterparts and coworkers. You know, we [01:09:00] developed a bond and you know, the upper management on a ship of the company.
They love. How I was approaching, you know, each, each opportunity to work. You know, I was on time or early every day, stayed late, you know, try to immerse myself in the culture, learning language, you know, even got a Chinese name, bowel, Joan, you know, so that was a whole thing, you know, and, when the time came to resign my contract, you know, Although I was willing to serve, I wasn’t willing to be taken advantage of, you know, so it was the first time I ever sat in a boardroom, in a meeting and then asked, like, what do you think you deserve?
You know, what do you want? You know, what are you worth? And so, I took that. I took that opportunity to bet on myself and, you know, I told them, this is what I’m worth. This is what I want when they couldn’t meet my terms. You know, of course we continue to go back and forth, but I stood my ground and they didn’t meet that.
So I said, no, And long story short, I met [01:10:00] Stephon Marbury through the work I was doing here. I had never met him before in my life. This wasn’t like some favor, you know, or anything of him just kind of doing me a solid because we’re boys or something like that. Like I had no idea he was a shareholder with the training company.
And so he just popped in on a weekend skill session we had with some of our middle school kids. And, you know, his name was on the thing and I was just as shocked as they were, he comes in and he kind of takes over. And Mike, I tell you the truth. We were not cool. Like on first glance, like I was in the middle of a session doing my thing and the kids were learning and we were rocking out and everything, and then he comes in and he just blows it up and he like takes over.
And, you know, as a coach, if you’re in a middle of a practice or a training session, that’s kind of like your baby it’s yours and that energy you got gone. It’s, it’s very, it means a [01:11:00] lot to you, you know, and for someone who’d come in and just break that, it doesn’t really matter who they are. It’s like, yo, like that feels a little disrespectful, but he wasn’t doing it on purpose.
He just he’s the Michael Jordan of China. So, you know, there’s a way that things kind of go when he comes around. So. He came in and everything stopped. And then it was like, he just threw it back to me, like, alright, go, like you talk to kids for 10 minutes, but then just said, go back to what you were doing.
And I’m like, okay. Like it took me 20 minutes just to kind of get them, like, you want me to just like, get it going again? Like I’m not a magician, but of course all of those are things in my head. I’m not saying that out loud, but. I try to get them going again and he sees it. And just like you said, it was a little chaotic.
They weren’t looking as organized as they want. He first walked in. So what do you think he did? He said let’s, let’s, let’s cut that. That’s dead. Alright. Here’s what we’re going to do. And then for the next hour he ran the [01:12:00] show. And so it was a shock to my pride, but I didn’t let it make me bitter. You know, of course I still was respectful to him, you know, whenever he came around, I was gracious, but I wasn’t.
Going to be his groupie. You know what I’m saying? I was just there to work. So, we didn’t really develop like a huge bond. It wasn’t like we talked and we did this and we did that. It actually came to a day where he gained a little respect for me while he was teaching and he was leading and I could tell he had a lot of things going on.
He was probably tired that day. And he said, Korey, put them through such and such. Like he wanted me to teach them how to shoot by proper form, proper technique. And so I’ll maybe have 40 kids, you know, and I had to teach them all how to shoot at the same time. And so, you know, I got them going into a pretty much progressive, you know, shoot Andrew, but yet we’re not even shooting.
We’re just working on the ball position, blah, blah, blah. And you know what? He did my key set down. That was the first [01:13:00] time he had ever sat down in front of me and just watch and. even now, you know, I work for him. He’s our head coach. I’m on the staff. He doesn’t sit down and gang. So for him to sit down, that’s a big deal.
If you really know him, you know what I mean? He’s a very intense person. He’s a very focused person. He has a lot of drive and ambition, so he’s, he’s whatever he’s doing, he’s going a hundred miles an hour as he’s doing it. So for him to sit down that day and just be locked in on what we were doing, what I was teaching.
My words. And then he only supported, he only chimed in to like reinforce that was kinda like, a big deal to me that day. And it was like, okay. He trusts me now. And so after that, then I was asked to go and do more camps and travel around China and do events with him. And, you know, I would do all the teaching and, you know, he would just sometimes make appearances and just kind of add on.
And this job opportunity came about [01:14:00] through a relationship with his agent. It wasn’t even him. He wanted to hire someone else and things just didn’t work out. The other guy, and I had already came in, tried to assist with practices, but basically I was told I couldn’t get the job. So I went and I tried out for another CBA team for 21 days.
My interview was a month long and you know, it was like a big deal, like a secret thing. I couldn’t talk about the fact that I knew Marbury because he was a, enemy, you know, to that head coach. Cause you know, he had, he had beat them in the finals and you know, everyone hates Marbury and certain parts of China.
So, you know, I had to be very secretive and. They found out. And so even though I crushed the month, they sent all the other trainers home, who I was competing against and like this interview process, I was the last man standing. I still didn’t get the job. So I went home, went back to the States. Didn’t like, you know, man, that was fun, but you know, it’s pretty much over.
And I think I had been home for maybe 12 days. [01:15:00] Marbury called me at 3:00 AM and you know, he was just like, yo, you’re awake. And I’m like, Yeah, I’m up. I’m up now. You never called me before that, but you know, he, he just hit me up and he said, look, this is what happened. I’m sorry that we didn’t really like explain you the situation.
The other guy. He’s just not, not the type of guy we want. And you know what? You’re just a good person. They’re like, I trust you. You, you got a professional demeanor. You know, and I want somebody like you on our staff. And then that was all she wrote the next, next day I was on a plane. I was expecting to really get a break, like get arrested because I had lived in China for a whole year.
Didn’t see my family or anyone. And I didn’t go back to the States, but man, am I going to miss this? Like, am I gonna, you know, like let this bus pass me by, you know? So, it’s, it’s been on improper since then. And, Man, it’s crazy how your life can change in a year [01:16:00] or two sleeping in an apartment with no mattress, bad plumbing.
Took the bus every day, took the subway, changed clothes every time you’re out of work. Cause all sweat out my clothes, trying to pinch pennies together to get noodles at the local place. I’m okay.
Mike Klinzing: [01:16:29] Absolutely. There’s a great lesson in what you said, and I’m going to try to summarize it. And it’s something that we’ve heard as a theme throughout our podcast and actually the first person who was a guest on our show that I heard say, this was. Don Showalter who works with USA basketball.
He’s a 10 time gold medalist with the under 18 junior national team, the United States. And what Coach Showalter said was that people would [01:17:00] come up to him and say, coach, how do I get the opportunity to work with USA basketball and be able to coach some of the best players all across the country?
What did you do? How did you, how did you, how can I get to where you are today? And his advice, which echoes completely the story that you just told, which is his advice was you have to be great at the job that you are in right now. And that job might be coaching a high school varsity team. It might be being an NBA coach, or it might be like you coaching seven year olds in China, but you have to do.
The best job that you can. And when you were talking and you said, I just made a decision that I was going to go out and imagine that I was working with NBA players and that’s how hard I was going to work. And if you do that, somebody’s going to notice. And you had no idea that Stephon Marbury was going to show up one day and your gym.
And see you doing that. And that then that was [01:18:00] going to lead to the next opportunity. You had no idea. And yet what you did was every day, you just put on your hard hat and went to work and did the things that you’re supposed to do. And then as a result of that, the next opportunity comes. And I think for anybody that could be for a player that could be for a coach that could just be for any person in general.
There’s a great lesson to be learned there that you have to do the best job wherever you are right now, and if you do, one, you’re going to get more satisfaction out of what you’re doing, but two, you’re going to get another opportunity because somebody, somewhere is going to notice that hard work and knowing what you’re doing, and it’s going to open another door for you.
And I think your story from the time you were a little kid up until what you’re doing now, that’s kind of the theme that runs through your entire journey is you just keep working and doing your best in the moment where you are. And boom, all of a sudden the next door opens and the next door opens the next door, opens it.
Eventually you find yourself looking at an opportunity that [01:19:00] again, if we would have asked Korey 10 years ago, Hey, what do you think you’re going to be doing in 10 years? The odds of you coming up with what you’re doing today, would’ve been astronomical against you ever figuring that out, but yet here you are.
It’s just an amazing story.
Alright. So I want to ask you, we’re coming up on close to an hour and a half. So I’ll want to give you an opportunity to share where people can find out more about you and all the things you’re doing. But I want to ask you one more question before I do that. What’s your day to day, like as the skills trainer for the fighting, for the, for the Royal fighters and what is day to day?
What are you doing in practice with, with guys?
Korey Harris: [01:19:41] So as of right now, So we’re at time, you know, with the pandemic, but, we’re blessed to still be rolling. you know, the CBA, like the MBA, as well as trying to figure out, you know, a resume or a restart date. And as of now, it’s slated to start [01:20:00] sometime in mid June.
I think June 16th was the last date we were given. So, at this point we practice three times a week, but I’m basically on call seven days a week. You know, anyone who’s been around, you know, the professional game knows if you’re a skill coach or an assistant coach, especially a young assistant coach.
You know, your job is to put the players first. So like today, I wake up around six 30 in the morning, Beijing time here. That’s 6:30 PM, you know, for you guys on the East coast. And I’m immediately trying to just take time for myself. You know, I would want to be the best version of myself that I can to help them.
So I gotta read, you know, I gotta be quiet. I got to pray or listen to some music or even just make a call, you know, talk to somebody that can kind of feel that tank up, you know, to give me a little bit of. Of juice for the rest of the day. around eight 15, I’m going downstairs. We live on a compound that shares a hotel, a nice cafeteria, like kind of a mess [01:21:00] hall.
And then next to that is like four, four level, weight training facility. And then on the opposite side of that building is, you know, our sports complex that has all the gyms and everything. So this is a really, really nice set up right here. And it’s a dope place to be quarantined. Cause it’s all in one, you know, at eight 15, I’m going downstairs, going next door to the mess hall meeting, you know, the rookie point guard, Drake, who I told you about before, you know, we’re eating breakfast and then we’re leaving from there, you know, within a couple of minutes to go next door to get in the weight room.
Today’s a Thursday. So he actually has, a late list with our strength coach, around two. So I don’t want to double up with him on Thursdays. We do like yoga. Some stretching, you know, things that are going to just keep him at an optimum level. But if it was a Monday or Wednesday or Friday, we would, we would go pretty hard in the weight room together because he just wants to live.
You just want to see that bad. So I try to stay in shape on my own and he kind of [01:22:00] just followed me around and you know, so I said, Hey man, let’s just stretch. So after that, probably around nine o’clock, we’re hitting the gym. We’re doing skill work since he has a late lift. He would go at nine, but usually I work with, our star point guard.
Who’s a foreign player. You can play the University of Arizona. He does some stuff with the G league as was USA basketball recently, but you know, he wants to go. So I let Drake go early and you know, we’re doing schoolwork. Another player might come in right out him at 10, but I’m out of the gym around like 1130.
And that’s our day, you know, as far as in the morning. And, I see a few more players in the PM, you know, like after they take a nap and China is custom for them to eat lunch and then go to sleep for an hour, eat lunch, and go to sleep for maybe two hours. I mean, it’s crazy Mike, like when I was in the office, when I was working, you know, before I got this job, My coworkers would come to work with no neck pillows [01:23:00] and they would sleep on their desk.
So it kind of threw me off, you know, my first couple of weeks I got, I just thought, man, y’all are the laziest mofos I’ve ever met. And then I realized like, everybody’s doing that. Like it’s not just mine. So, you know, you gotta, you gotta assimilate yourself into the culture and. You know, be flexible and, you know, I give those guys that time and then I’m in the gym once they’re ready and they’re done with that.
But on an average practice day, like a day, like yesterday, it’s the same start, but of course, you know, we have to be in the gym a little bit earlier. So practice starts at three 30. I’m in there. Two 45 to do like some more skill work, some more pre-practice stuff. Out of our actions with, you know, two or three of our rotational guys, guys that they know they’re going to get shots from certain spots.
So I break down their film. I send them evaluations from like maybe the last eight games we haven’t played in a while. So we’re still kind of chewing on stuff, January, but, you know, they’re, they’re just working away at that. [01:24:00] And, once practice gets started, you know, now I’m more of a role player. I’m the background singer, right?
You know, whatever Steph says, whatever coach Jay says, Jay Humphries, our head assistant, that’s where it goes. And so, you know, I jump in and drills if they need an extra body, if they don’t, I’m just kind of pulling off to the side, maybe. Correct. And if I see some form just being supportive of being a cheerleader, you know, there’s no, pride in being a young assistant coach.
Like you gotta be willing to do the stuff no one else wants to do. And you know, you also have to create. Sometimes a role for yourself. So for me, like I liked diagramming plays. I don’t know why, but I really like going that. So anytime we install something new, I’m on the iPad or I got a spare sheet of paper and I’m, I’m diagramming it so that I can get back to my room later that evening.
And they put it on fast draw so that coach can have it so that the players can have it at any time. Maybe I’m asking the [01:25:00] film guy to film the scrimmage. Because I want a doctor that film, I want to edit that film. The next time I work with our starting point guard, or today I’m going to work with them, 1245 and we’re just going to work on his shooting and then we’re gonna work on his turnaround jumpers because in our offense, now you can pose guys up and he’s big and strong.
So, you know, he’s watching The Last Dance. He’s watching Kobe tapes. He’s watching some of himself from yesterday when he got put into situations, you know, so. That’s all part of, not someone necessarily telling me what to do. It’s just, Hey, I want to make sure that I’m an asset and I’m adding value, you know?
So, it’s a lot of days of not necessarily being told, thank you or being appreciated or someone publicly like crowning you or something like that in front of everyone. But you get a, you get a good feeling when you see the players doing this stuff in games. And they’d been working with you on. And so that’s, that’s pretty dope to me, but my free time is usually, you know, at night, once things get settled, you don’t have to dinner.
[01:26:00] That’s when I can kind of decompress. But, you know, I’m a grinder. So I exactly, I understand.
Mike Klinzing: [01:26:10] I got it, man. It’s like a basketball junkie’s dream over there
before we get out. I want to give you an opportunity to share where people can follow you, where they can find out more about you share your social media, share your website, just ways that people can connect with you. And then I’ll jump back in and wrap
Korey Harris: [01:26:29] things up. Sure. Sure. So anyone who’s listening, you can find me on Instagram.
It’s just my name. K O R E Y H A R R I S no space. So at Korey Harris, my Twitter is exactly the same. I do have a website as well. KoreyHarris. org. So it’s all pretty universal, easy to find. I try, trust me. I am not a egotistical. And I mean, I don’t want my name up in lights or anything like that.
It’s not where everything is. Is his name there, but it’s easy to find that way. I think. [01:27:00] So. I also have, a couple of books that I’ve self-published on Amazon. one is just a cool inspirational book, a little bit about my own personal journey, but more so just to inspire whoever is reading, it’s called leading while being led.
And again, you can find that on Amazon leading, while being led and also have a drill book that I published some years ago called student of the game. So if you go on Amazon and you just type in my name, Those two works will come up. you can contact me on social media. I’m over here in China. So, phone numbers are a little hard to use.
Email is good as well. SOGtrainingco@gmail.com that stands for student of the game. So.
Mike Klinzing: [01:27:46] Perfect. Korey, we’re going to put all that in the show notes. So people who are listening can copy that down and reach out to you if they have a question or they want to get involved with you, when you’re back here in the States, they can follow your career. Your story that you shared with us tonight [01:28:00] was inspiring in so many different ways.
And I think there was a ton of great lessons that players coaches. Can pull out of there, whether you’re trying to figure out how to be the best player you can be or whether you’re trying to figure out how do I go about my coaching career off the ground and get started. There’s a lot of great lessons that you shared with us tonight.
Can’t thank you enough for spending, I don’t know, an hour and a half or so with us. Really appreciate it. And to everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.