Mentality 7 with Kimani Young

Website – https://uconnhuskies.com/sports/mens-basketball

Email – kimani.young@uconn.edu

Twitter – @CoachKimani

Welcome to episode seven of our Hoop Heads Podcast Series called “Mentality with Dwayne Killings – Season One at UAlbany” The series will document Dwayne’s first year as the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at the University at Albany. 

We plan to record and release 2-4 episodes per month with Dwayne and/or players, coaches, administrators, media members, and others associated with the Great Danes Basketball Program to get an inside look at what being a first year head coach at the Division 1 level is all about.

If you’re looking to improve your coaching please consider joining the Hoop Heads Mentorship Program.  We believe that having a mentor is the best way to maximize your potential and become a transformational coach. By matching you up with one of our experienced mentors you’ll develop a one on one relationship that will help your coaching, your team, your program, and your mindset.  The Hoop Heads Mentorship Program delivers mentoring services to basketball coaches at all levels through our team of experienced Head Coaches. Find out more at hoopheadspod.com or shoot me an email directly mike@hoopheadspod.com

Our roster of shows is growing so don’t forget to check out all our other podcasts on the Hoop Heads Pod Network including Thrive with Trevor Huffman, Beyond the Ball, The CoachMays.com Podcast, Player’s Court, Bleachers & Boards, The Green Light, Courtside Culture and our team focused NBA Podcasts: Cavalier Central, Knuck if you Buck, The 305 Culture, Daily Thunder, Motor City Hoops, X’s and O’s: NBA Breakdown, Spanning the Spurs, LA Hoops, The Wizards Hoops Analyst, Lakers Fast Break & At The Buzzer. We’re looking for more NBA podcasters interested in hosting their own show centered on a particular team. Email us info@hoopheadspod.com if you’re interested in learning more and bringing your talent to our network.

On this episode we’re joined by UConn Men’s Basketball Associate Head Coach Kimani Young.  Dwayne and Kimani have developed both a professional and personal relationship over many years. These two friends discuss how they have supported each other throughout their careers and the opportunity that Dwayne has in front of him at the University at Albany.

What We Discuss with Kimani Young & Dwayne Killings

  • The importance of their relationship on both a personal and professional level
  • Details from their conversations about how they can get better
  • What Dwayne learned after Kimani came and watched a practice at UAlbany
  • The difference in coaching high major D-1 vs. mid major D-1
  • How they share their networks to build new relationships and advance their careers
  • The impact of the transfer portal and their thoughts on how it can and will be used
  • How they keep players that are not playing engaged and invested in their programs
  • Building relationships with a player’s inner circle
  • Why hiring a staff felt so difficult for Dwayne
  • The responsibility they both feel as African-American coaches to be successful so the next guy can get a job too
  • Every coach on a staff should be the head coach of something in your program
  • Developing their players as people as well as athletes
  • How they handle social media in their respective programs
  • Dwayne and Kimani’s favorite college teams of all-time and their top 4 NBA players of all-time

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Click here to thank Kimani Young on Twitter!

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[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 jumping on for part seven of “Mentality” with Dwayne Killings, and we have not only Coach Killings with us tonight, but we also have Coach Kimani Young from the University of Connecticut.  Kimani, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.

Kimani Young: [00:00:18] Thank you. Excited to be here

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:19] Yeah, we are pumped to have you on and be able to get this whole conversation going with you and Dwayne, Dwayne, let’s start out by having you just explain the relationship between you and Kimani, how you guys met and just how that relationship has developed over time and what a tremendous resource each of you have been for the other as you’ve gone through your career.

Dwayne Killings: [00:00:38] Yeah, I mean, although we, over the last two years, we competed against each other a couple of times a year. You know, he’s family, he’s a brother to me. You know, Shoot, I guess I’m dating myself now, like 12 years ago, 10 years ago we met he was coaching a kid by the name of Aaron Brown.

And at the time I was, I was working in New York city work in the NBA league office and I was [00:01:00] transitioning to be you as a assistant coach. And we just kind of connected. We talked about the business and. It’s funny like that one conversation turned into like talking every couple of weeks, then it, and talking every week, then it turns into talking every day.

And it’s not just about basketball, it’s about life and trying to figure out this crazy business that we’re in, laughing, talking, being frustrated. But I think the best thing is somebody that’s got your back and even I remember this past year and I think this is what our friendship is. We played a UConn.

It was the first league game of the year. And we’re up like 19 and we lose the game and actually a kid I recruited to UConn. He actually won the game. You know, he beat us, like he hit like five threes in a game. It was crazy. And devastated. You know, I have a scout and game means a lot. And I was walking to the locker room and Kimani came, ran down, gave me a hug and it was just like hanging there.

But that’s what the relationship is. It’s, it’s bigger than basketball. It’s real. And it’s honestly how you get [00:02:00] through hard days with guys like him, but it’s also you got somebody support. So when you’re at your highest of highs, you got a guy right next to you, celebrating with you.

And yet your little solos, somebody picking you up,

Mike Klinzing: [00:02:10] all right. Kimani, let’s do that same story from your perspective.

Kimani Young: [00:02:13] I mean, listen, he hit the nail on the head. You know, he’s one of my closest friends, not only in the business, but just as a brother. We got to know each other through recruiting circles.

You know, it’s been 12 years and you know, he was in college. I was still in grassroots high school, AAU, and I’ve kind of watched him ascend in the business. And you know, I at some point got in the business and that way even more peers and competed against each other. But at the same time his success is my success.

I’ll always want to see him do well. And I’m super proud of him.

Mike Klinzing: [00:02:46] What are some of the conversations? What’s the most recent conversation that you guys have had outside of obviously this podcast, but what’s the most recent conversation that you guys had when you talked about an old Kimani, you got a chance to come up and watch Dwayne’s practice at U Albany.

So what are [00:03:00] the kinds of what’s the most recent conversation you guys have had?

Kimani Young: [00:03:03] Well, for me, I mean we talk every day, so, I mean, literally we talk every day, we’re always talking about the profession our programs, what do we need to do to get better?

So most recently we just been talking about how we improve our programs over the summer.You know, what does that look like? Like what, Where do we want to put out focus? And he, he, he spoke to it I came and watched him at practice and I just told them, I’m like, Hey, you can’t do everything. You know, I watch a lot of make mistakes because they want to fix everything that’s going on.

Whether it’s their team, their program, marketing,

recruiting, like, like no focusing on a couple of things that you want to be really great at put your time and attention and detail into over the summer. So then those are the things that you took care of and then you can move on to the next things.

But he’s [00:04:00] doing a great job. I’m super proud of him. He’s got a great set up down there. You know, I’m expecting big things from him at. Albany,

Mike Klinzing: [00:04:06] Dwayne, how hard is that? First-time head coach. You’re coming into a program. You’ve had this on your mind for years that, Hey, at some point I’m going to take over my own program.

Now you get that opportunity. And suddenly like Kemani says, you’re like, oh my gosh, there’s so many things that I want to do that I want to fix it. I want to get right. And now you start to say, holy cow, this is overwhelming. I don’t know where to even put all my time. So how do you start narrowing that down?

How do you get your focus? What was the conversation you had with Kimani after he sees that? Well, I,

Dwayne Killings: [00:04:39] I thought early on, it’s hard to get a rhythm and a routine. You’ve got so many different things coming at you, and then you learn so many things. You didn’t know, you got a plan, you got this vision. And I think that’s, it’s, it’s excitement.

Why you want to do everything cause it’s following yours and you want to make it yours. And I think the thing that’s really tricky about this is that like every day you [00:05:00] wake up with an agenda and then two things come flying at you. You didn’t expect and the conversations would come on and, and really like when he decided to come up and come check us out, it meant a lot because I trust him and he knows who I am and what I’m trying to get done.

So when he said that he saw things, obviously I wasn’t seeing. So that really helped me. And then the fact that he’s been here on the ground, when we talk he already sees the vision and the place. And we talk about challenges. They’re not challenges, they’re opportunities. So he knows the opportunities that we have in front of us.

So his advice It made me take pause and have perspective. And it’s funny like that next day I actually sat out and wrote out just a bunch of different responsibilities for the staff. Cause I knew he was right. I needed to do a better job delegating and that’s probably one of the biggest challenges and that people told me that would be challenges.

And I, the other thing that’s great about the friendship and the advice is that like, if they do something and I see it on social media, he brings it up. I want more details. And then like, I’ll [00:06:00] just hit them. Like, Hey, what’d you think of what we just did today? You know? And he’ll give me a perspective.

That’s valuable because he’s got his own clean lens of what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to create in, to be honest, because the vested interest he he’s protected of it cause he wants to see us do well.

Mike Klinzing: [00:06:16] Absolutely. Kimani, what’s one of the best things. That you saw while you were up there watching, and you’re just sitting there and you’re seeing all right, here’s what Dwayne’s doing.

What’s something that stood out for you. You’re like, oh man, he’s hitting this, he’s hitting this right on the head. This is exactly what he needs to be doing. What’s something that jumped out at you from that perspective.

Kimani Young: [00:06:33] Yeah. I think he’s doing a great job with connecting with that community in Albany.You know, and I joke about it with them, but I’m like you got the fire department, your eyes donut shop you’re at I’m like, w where are you going today? Like you riding EMT, you’re riding like you’re voting you like child yet the mayor’s office. I’m like, what? But I make fun of them, but in a, in a, in [00:07:00] a complimentary way, like he’s doing such a great job connecting with that community and getting people excited about Albany basketball.

You know, I worked at a place very similar to Albany. I was at FIU my first year in college, and it’s tough those places aren’t. You know, they don’t have huge fan bases. People are just trying to get through school and, and create a career for themselves. It’s a hard working town. Like they haven’t got time to be worried about what the men’s basketball program is doing.

Or when you got a young guy, like the blame that’s getting there, he’s got so much energy, so much passion for the program, for the university, for the community. It forces people to take notice and it forces people to to support you. So I think he’s done an excellent job of that. And, and come game time.You’ll see seats in the stands and that’s what it is.

Dwayne Killings: [00:07:50] Yeah. I think too, like when he came to practice the part that. Got me really excited is when I saw him grab a [00:08:00] piece of paper and take some notes out, I still get either we did something really good or really bad, and he’s going to let me know one way or another.

Mike Klinzing: [00:08:07] yeah, no doubt about that. So when you think about just I think, and this is something Dwayne has come across clearly in everything that we’ve done to this point is that ability that you’ve had to be able to go out and connect with people and to really just put your feet on the ground and say, I’m going to meet the people in the community like Kimani expressed.

I think that’s come through clear in everything that we’ve done. You know, I think about the conversation that we had with Charlie the other day, and he just talked about how. Hey man, he’s out there and he’s putting the program in front of people and he’s getting them to see it. And I think that there’s no doubt that when the person who was in charge of that program brings that kind of energy and that kind of excitement.

That’s what really makes a difference. And then Kimani to your point there you are at UConn, which has obviously a storied history and national championships and all the things that go along with UConn basketball. And then you look at U Albany and obviously it’s not [00:09:00] a program that’s on the same level we did compared to Wayne to Gonzaga the other night.

I don’t know if you listen, when we had Charlotte. I did write I D me and Charlie, we had it, we threw it out there. But nonetheless, obviously it’s a little bit, it’s a little bit different. So when you guys have this conversation now, and obviously Dwayne was at Marquette before, which is a more traditional Laden school.

So now when you start looking at the contrast between. Historically what the troop two programs have been. What are those conversations look like in terms of, Hey, what is Kimani needs to do at UConn? That’s different from what Dwayne needs to do at U Albany? How do you guys approach that difference between the two schools where you are now?

Dwayne Killings: [00:09:37] I think when we talk about, I think there’s a lot of similarities in that you care about the kids. How are you caring for your players? How do you communicate to the parents? How you like, I’ll ask him, how are you dealing with this with Danny? Right. So I can process for my own staff. I mean, those things don’t change no matter where you are.

I think those pieces are always going to be consistent. I think the difference is like [00:10:00] now when we talk about recruiting, How do you deal with an AAU guy that maybe he’s not calling you, you got to hunt him down, right? You’re like the third or fourth call back. You’re not the first call back. What does that look like?

Who are other people for me to connect to, like Kimani is so ingrained in New York city. And you gravitate to like the bigger programs in New York city for, for AAU. There’s another layer of guys that have great players and great programs. To be honest, I’ve been spoiled. I didn’t know who those people are Kimani does.

And I think connecting to him and having an appreciation for that. And then I think when he came to practice and he’s seen our school, he knows the kind of kids that I want to coach and that can function to have success on our campus, both academically, socially, and all of those things, those things are important.

And then on the other side of it, right. I still understand what he’s trying to get. I worked at UConn for two years I coached in the big east for three. I know what he needs to be successful. So when you’re watching games, you’re watching games. So it’s kinda [00:11:00] like, Hey, you should also think about this guy and I think that’s how you really help each other in this business.

Cause you’re an ally for each other.

Mike Klinzing: [00:11:08] Absolutely Kimani. What do you think about that?

Kimani Young: [00:11:10] Yeah, I mean it’s, it’s still, I’m at UConn. It’s a different level obviously, but you still want to be able to come up with creative ideas. You know, how you want to interact with your players, what you want to focus on every day.  Just things you’re thinking about and recruiting. We have these conversations daily we’re always bouncing ideas off each other and that’s what it’s all about. I mean, I, listen, it’s, it’s a, it’s a mid-major school, but I think it has tons of potential. You know, when you’re a state school in New York, like that, that, that means something it’s a beautiful campus.

Easy to get to you could recruit the Northeast. You know, I think that he’s got, he’s got a tremendous opportunity there and you know, sky’s the limit. So we, we always got to find ways to help each other. We won’t play him though. Mike[00:12:00] transfers these approvals, but off, I said, no way, I’ll support you from afar.

Dwayne Killings: [00:12:09] I thought you were going to get a shot

Mike Klinzing: [00:12:10] You thought you were going to get a shout at them.

Dwayne Killings: [00:12:13] They said he would think about it. And then the next thing I like to read good players, like

Jason Sunkle: [00:12:19] he made a quick 360 on that. Didn’t he?

Kimani Young: [00:12:22] I told him one day, I’m like, yo, you got a shot.

Dwayne Killings: [00:12:24] And then he, like, he took some kids from Philly. I was like, now you’re done.

Kimani Young: [00:12:29] Yeah,

Mike Klinzing: [00:12:29] we can’t, we can’t, we can’t risk that, man. That’s there, there’s a challenge. There’s a scheduling challenge, right? Blaine. I mean, that’s the reality is once you’re a mid-major and you and you get good. Then you start looking at power, five schools are like, they’d start thinking twice about whether or not they want to get in play.

You’re right. I mean, that’s, that’s a challenge. I’m sure.

Dwayne Killings: [00:12:49] Yeah. We, we don’t have any players, man. We just out here trying to figure it out. We need, I tell him,

Jason Sunkle: [00:12:56] I see what he’s doing. He’s got

Dwayne Killings: [00:12:58] like a Cole

Kimani Young: [00:12:59] buy [00:13:00] games.

Cool. Buy games. Like

Dwayne Killings: [00:13:06] we’re buying you for your reason. So we just want an opportunity, man.

Mike Klinzing: [00:13:14] That’s good stuff. All right. Kimani, talk to us a little bit about how you built up those relationships inside of the grassroots AAU circuit and how that’s helped you with what you do at UConn with recruiting and just in all the stops that you’ve been at.

Just talk a little bit about how you build and develop those relationships.

Kimani Young: [00:13:32] Yeah, just, I mean, born and raised in New York city I played in high school, played in AAU played in college. Once I was done playing at college, kind of got back into youth development in New York. I didn’t even consider coaching.

You know, when I first got that my first career opportunities, I was I was a counselor at at a foster care agency in New York. I worked for the police athletic league just wanted to be around young people. And then now you’re in a gym you’re in afterschool programs. You’re, you’re in youth leagues and now you getting back around the game.

And that’s when I said, wait a minute this is, this is fun. I started being around basketball. And now you combine the two of my passions, which is helping young people in the game of basketball. And I played all my life. And I saw a career path and you know, got involved in high school coaching at rice high school.

You know, got involved in AAU through the new lights program. I hope that’s not a, An NCAA violation that I mentioned that.

But you know, I do those through those, those relationships I got close with other AAU programs, other AAU coaches you know, built a network of people. And at the time I didn’t even know how would it affect me if as a, as a as a college coach, he was just what I was doing at the time.

I was trying to create opportunities for the kids and families that were in my program and just, it kind of naturally progressed into getting into college. And now that I’m in college, I’m able to rely on those relationships that are, that I built some years ago. It’s been helpful.

Mike Klinzing: [00:14:56] Okay. And so then I guess the next question [00:15:00] becomes each of you obviously has built up your own network over the years separately in that obviously there’s a lot of people that that you kind of cross pollinated, but just talk about how, when one of you needs a connection with somebody that the other one knows, how does that, how does that process work as you guys connect one another to different people within the sphere of whether it’s recruiting or just looking for a job, whatever, how do you guys share networks?

Dwayne Killings: [00:15:26] Yeah. So I think it, it happens a lot. I think the stamp of approval in our business is, is the, the gateway to the information or access to players or, or whatever. Just getting access to being welcomed into a gym, which is. That’s like a learned skill I don’t think guys fully understand that, like you walk in peop there’s certain people that have to say, okay, like this is a guy we’re welcoming and to potentially mentor mold, one of our players, high school kids are a you guys.

So a lot of times you’re trying to connect the dots. I mean, that’s what our [00:16:00] business is about. So if it’s Kimani going somewhere where I’ve been, or I’ve had success in recruiting, he might call me like, Hey, do you know, so-and-so put in the call. And right away. I mean, like, I’ll stop everything I’m doing for him and it’s shooting a text message or a group text or a phone call to make sure that somebody knows that I’m validating who he is and what his character and what he’s about.

And the end of the day, people just want to know you’re going to care for their kids and you’re going to be there for them for the good, bad indifferent, and what you say you’re going to stand on and live by. And he’s done the same for me. I mean, 10 times over. And it’s been huge for my career because like, I’ve been lucky.

I mean, I’ve been able to go into places where a lot of people would say, you can’t get a kid to recruit a kid out of that community because they only take care of their own. And I’ve had success in there because of people like Kemani or just going in and being authentically who I am. And I think people gravitate towards that.

And I think, again, we always know we have each [00:17:00] other’s back to make sure that we can get the answers we need or have the success we need to have, whether it’s getting a scout dumb or trying to get a recruit.

Mike Klinzing: [00:17:10] What’s your take on that?

Kimani Young: [00:17:12] absolutely. I mean, listen, he he described it perfectly I remember being at Minnesota, I wanted to recruit a kid in Philly.

He was at temple at the time. You know, he made an introduction that, that just it was, it was a pathway to success for me I wound up signing a kid, the kid played for us and that happens, like he said, it happens all the time. You know, you can pick up the phone and say, Hey, I know DK is recruiting your guy.

Listen, I’ve known him for 15 years. He’s a great dude. He’ll take care of your side. You know, that’s going to get you past go. That’s, that’s what our business is all about. It’s about relationships. It’s about trust. You know, it’s about you know, building equity with people and kids and families and programs.

And it’s done both of us. Well,

Mike Klinzing: [00:17:55] what’s been your discussion lately in regards to. The [00:18:00] NCAA rule changes the extra year of eligibility, the transfer portal, obviously with you guys being at two different levels, there’s impacts, you’re going to be D you’re going to be impacted maybe differently moving forward in each of your programs.

When you think about how kids are utilizing the transfer portal, and then how that extra year of eligibility impacts this year’s recruiting. And then maybe even a year or two down the road, Dwayne, obviously coming to new, it’s a little bit different than Kimani being already established and kind of having a better feel for the personnel that they have on hand.

But just talk a little bit about what your discussions have been around those two things, which are changes that are new to the game.

Kimani Young: [00:18:41] Yeah. But yeah, I was just going to say, like both of us, we have a similar perspective on how we, How we, how we deal with, with kids and families. For us, it’s very, It’s very personal. You know, we, we, we try to develop very, very personal [00:19:00] with the guys that we recruit and the players we coach. And I think that’s where it starts. Like the transfer portal is it’s not a good thing it’s not obviously there’s situations where kids need a fresh start and it didn’t work out or maybe you, it’s not what you thought.

But there’s a flip side to that where there’s a small part of you that doesn’t want to overcome adversity right. In once thing eat once things easy and you’ve ran from challenges before. So there’s a fine line there, but you know, what I try to do is just, I try to attack it on the front end.

Like I try to let parents know and. Kids know that, listen, this is not going to be easy. Like this is, this is going to be tough. And you know,

the relationship we have and I try to create a triangle with us, the kid and the parents, like we’re all on the same page. He’s going to be able to get through this.

Like we’re recruiting them at our place for a reason. And I think that’s the way you got to look at it. Like we haven’t taken one kid out of [00:20:00] the transfer portal this year. And I think that’s a little seducing to the programs that do that because you know, you’re taking a kid in trying

to, you know trying to put them in, into your program where you’ve recruited kids that they’ve been in your program for maybe a year or two, sometimes even three.

But now you’re just trying to add this, this piece to a puzzle that’s already been formulated and it doesn’t always work. And I think there’s, there’s some risks involved when you do that. And I know the way he wants to do what it is at his, at his place he wants to build a strong program.

He wants to recruit high school players, develop them give them experience. And now as juniors and seniors going big. And I think that that’s the way to do it. So yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s pretty much my take on it.

Mike Klinzing: [00:20:48] Dwayne, what do you think?

Dwayne Killings: [00:20:48] Yeah, I mean, I echo what he said. Again, I think like he mentioned, I think we share a lot of the same philosophies in terms of how you build a program and the way you [00:21:00] connect to kids and, and grow them over time.

And I think the, the thing that I think it screws you up about the portal is you’re building a team through a portal. You, you, when you recruit players and develop and through high school, you develop a program there’s a difference. I mean, the culture piece is, is for me is vital to success.

And I can establish my culture by just constantly going to the portal for kids. And I don’t know if that’s the pathway to success now we we’ve benefited from getting a kid from the portal, that same kid, I recruited him to temple. So he’s going to help me establish my culture because I can coach him the way I want.

We have a preexisting relationship. That was great for me, for him, but we, we got. The future for our program through just old school recruiting. I think while people were looking left, we went right and we got an opportunity to upgrade our talent in some unique ways. And I’m excited about that.

I think I get it. You need to give high school kids and kids. Once they get to schools, the [00:22:00] opportunity to have some freedom, right. To find success cause sometimes you make mistakes. Sometimes you make decisions and find yourself, but you know, I think, but what gets lost in all this has been now kids make a lot of emotional decisions.

You know, at the end of the season, I didn’t play enough as I wanted to last two or three games I’m out. And then now are they going to graduate? Are they going to find a fertile place to go to and to develop and people they’re going to care for them? I don’t know if those things are gonna happen because you make these quick, quick decisions.

I think it’s going to be interesting how our business grows and the high school kids are going to get really hurt by it cause they’re not going to have places to go. You know, I’m hoping that it becomes something that we really benefit from at our level, but you know, it’s going to be harder for high school kids to get an opportunity because we’re going to go out less to see kids and it’s going to get tricky.

And I, and I think going back to what we talked about earlier, I just want to add this in there. I think c’mon, they’re constantly learning from each other. Just in this conversation, I thought he brought up something really good. [00:23:00] He said, get to create a triangle and I loved it and I wrote it down and we talk every day and he’s never said that.

So I think we’ll, we’ll come

Jason Sunkle: [00:23:06] on in. You’re giving them all your secrets, man. You’re to mind,

Dwayne Killings: [00:23:10] it’ll be honest with you. Like. We’ve probably, I don’t know if what we do is common and I don’t really I’m not, it’s no secret. Like when I worked at Marquette, I mean, cultural house got talked about Kimani every other day and it’s probably like, wasn’t common, you know what I mean?

Cause it’s like, you’re competing, but like, I want to make sure he’s successful. I mean, not necessarily on game day, but you know, his success is important to me. So we share ideas. You know, we shared things with him because at the end of the day, like that’s not going to be why. UConn was going to beat us when we were at Marquette.

I mean, that, wasn’t the reason it wasn’t an idea that was shared it was going to come down to who was the best team in that given day. So that then it was never worried a worry for me,

Jason Sunkle: [00:23:55] Dwayne, Dwayne, you said something really kind of resonated with me because Mike’s often talks [00:24:00] about Mike, correct me if I’m wrong, but like your freshman year, you didn’t play that much, right?

Mike Klinzing: [00:24:04] Yeah. I played maybe, I don’t know, maybe five minutes a game maybe. And so

Jason Sunkle: [00:24:09] like in this, in this day and age, you’re that situation, I’m not saying that you would leave, but that would be an emotional decision that maybe you’d make. And I think obviously you’re pretty happy with where you finished up at Kent state and your three years after that, but you had to kind of go through the adversity and know that you’re playing with a bunch of upperclassmen.

Right? Mike, am I, am I wrong in that statement?

Mike Klinzing: [00:24:33] So actually like my freshman year. We brought in seven scholarship players plus a walk-on. So I was the seventh and I was clearly, clearly the seventh guy in a seven man recruiting class. And so I kind of knew coming in that if I was going to get an opportunity, it was going to take time for me to be able to do that.

But by the same token, and this is a question that I wanted to ask you guys is I don’t remember. And [00:25:00] maybe I’m, maybe I’m not remembering something that did happen, but I don’t remember my coaching staff at that time, having conversations with me about, Hey, keeping me engaged, even though I wasn’t playing, like, we had a couple of kids from that recruiting class that left in fact, both my roommates from my freshman year left after, after their freshman year and went other places.

But I don’t remember the coaching staff having those conversations. So what kind of conversations are you guys having or what are some of the things that you guys do to keep your players who aren’t playing. As much as obviously everybody would like to play more. So what are those conversations like during the season with kids who aren’t getting the kind of minutes that they want to play, how do you keep them engaged in the program?

So when the season ends, they’re not left making that emotional decision to be like, Hey man, I’m outta here. I get I should be playing more. So what does that look like over the course of the season?

Dwayne Killings: [00:25:58] Yeah, got it for [00:26:00] me. You know, this past year we had a couple of kids at Marquette. I mean, my thing was like, we gotta continue to grow.

How do we develop them? How do we invest more in them? You know, we got to talk more with them. I think given this past year, because the COVID, I mean, mental health was a real thing. And you know, we really tried to get those kinds of resources around our players just to kind of give them an outlet to talk and to voice their frustrations.

But I think what you can’t do, you can’t throw them in a corner because that’s where those kids don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. So after practice investing with working with them before practice, watch film game, give them hope, keep them ready. Cause you never know when the opportunity is going to come.

You know, this past year we had a kid, a freshmen kid OSA at at Marquette and I mean the kid didn’t play much and. I would say, like, we gave him a lot of hope and he worked and he worked and he stayed and he worked and he lifted and he ran and we got in a situation, a couple of guys got injured and we threw them in the game.

And [00:27:00] he had a big time and one dunk and the, the, the excitement on his face but he earned it and he believed, and then you got to keep him to believe every single day. Cause it’s hard. But that same kid, like when the coaching change happened, reality probably says he probably leaves, but he still believes in the program.

And he believes in his teammates and he believes that that’s the best place for him to grow because we taught them that. And then Shaka did his thing, but you got to get them to believe in the process and see where, how the growth pattern goes because all these kids want on day one and that’s just not realistic and everybody’s got to run their own race.

And I think that’s a big part of it too. Especially when you bring in a big freshman class. And you’ve got a couple of guys that play in a couple of guys that don’t, you got to get kids to focus on their journey. Not everybody else’s.

Kimani Young: [00:27:48] Yeah, for me, it’s all about time. Like like when you bring young players into your program I like to describe him as your best recruits, like the most important recruits that you [00:28:00] have because they’re in your program and you have an opportunity to influence them and help them develop and help them get better.

So if you’ve got young guys in the program that aren’t playing, like you need to be spending more time with them, whether it’s on the court or off the court I love doing pre-game workouts with those guys, that guys that play, you may have a a light day after a game, really getting a gym will put those guys through tough workouts.

Cause those opportunities for them to get better, you got to invest in them andthat. I love what, what DJ just described like that kid. He, he felt that way about himself because he understood that the hard work paid off.

And I think you gotta, you got to treat your young plays in your program that way we do it great job. I mean, we took over a program where we needed our younger players to get on the court. And now in year three, we we’ve had some success. We’ve gotten back to the NCAA tournament. We got some older players in our program that have been [00:29:00] here three years.

So now it’s going to be a little tougher. It’s going to be tougher, our incoming freshman class to get on the court. But you know, we’re going to encourage

them. That’s what the summer’s for. They got to get bigger, they got to get stronger. They got to learn on the fly. And we got to trust them. So, so I think it goes both ways.

Mike Klinzing: [00:29:16] Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s, it’s always a challenge because we know that when you have 12 man roster and 15 man roster and not, everybody’s not, everybody’s going to get the minutes that they want to get. Not, everybody’s going to get the shots they want to get, not everybody’s going to have the role that they want to have.

And so you’ve got to keep those kids engaged. How do you guys engage with the circle around the players, whether that be parents, whether that be in recruiting, when you’re talking to a high school coach or an AAU coach or somebody that’s just a part of that players, inner circle, who has that player’s ear, what’s that like in terms of building positive relationships with those people, which clearly you want to be able to have a positive influence on them [00:30:00] because you know that they have an influence on the player and you want the things that are going in the players one year from them to be things that aren’t.

Talking about how you should be playing more, just you got to get out of there, whatever. So how do you guys deal with that aspect of it?

Dwayne Killings: [00:30:16] I mean, the kids that I’ve been fortunate to recruit, I, I try to touch them early and often you know, communicate to them about how’s this, journey’s going try to see the blind spots, trying to anticipate what’s going on.

Like, you can sometimes see, Hey, we’re gonna go play so-and-so this probably isn’t a game for him. So try to like, get them to understand, okay, here’s why this may happen or call them and talk to them about, okay, here’s why he had success or when he has a big moment. Like, I, I, I I coached the kid this past year, a talented freshman kid.

And it was like the fourth or the third game of the year. I mean, they were all. Up in arms like this ain’t the [00:31:00] place not happy. Then we play Wisconsin. He gets like 18 and eight and hits the tip in at the buzzer. And he’s all over social media and that’s the highs and lows of it. And it’s like getting him to understand that that’s the deal, that’s the journey.

Like you’re not gonna, but when he had his moment, the next game, you’re not going to have 20 in the next game. Like, it’s not like you’re not going to average 20 and 20. And that’s the hard thing about, about it for the support group, but you gotta, you gotta keep them close and help them understand, and you gotta like help them mature in the business.

Just as much as, as the player in my role now, as a leader of a program, I got to figure out what that now is like, how, how assessable can I be to that group? You know, how much of the assistant coaches deal with it or do I want to be different and, and allow people to get a little bit closer? Cause most head coaches kind of pushed people away.

But. You know, my message. I’ve been actually traveling, meeting with parents and I’ve said it over and over what’s best for me. And what’s best for your son is not more [00:32:00] important than what’s best for the team. And that’s what it’s really about. And you can’t convince me otherwise, like we got to win games, we’ve got to develop our program.

And that’s the most important.

Kimani Young: [00:32:12] I mean, for me, Mike, it starts, it starts in recruiting. You know, it really does. I think that, All the successful recruitments I’ve been around you know, from the beginning, right. You if it’s the kind of people that value the same things that you value you know, you’re gonna, it’s a, it’s a connection, right?

When, when when you introduce yourself and then you introduce your, your, your head coach and your program and what you’re about your core values, when you see them light up at the things that you light up about, then you know that there’s a path to success. And then I think you gotta be honest I think a lot of us in our business we’re under a ton of pressure with trying to sign good players.

We’re trying to win it’s, it’s a, deucing, it’s a, wait a minute. I can grab this kid. Who’s a, three-year start at, at, [00:33:00] you know, at San Diego state to come to my place and fill in a stop gap or give us some protection against the incoming young player or maybe a young player that was in my program for a year.

I get it I get it. But I think there’s, there’s a part of you that has to trust what you’re doing. Trust the young people that you’ve recruited trust the families that you that you brought into your program, that that’s a path to success as well. And I think when, when you’re honest with them about that and you know, the expectations is set up front, then you set yourself up for success.

You know, I think, I think that’s just what it comes down to

Mike Klinzing: [00:33:37] Dwayne. When you think about. Getting that, getting this head job for the first time. And you think about all the discussions that you’ve had with Kimani over the years, what is something that you shared with Kemani that is maybe the most surprising thing to you about being a head coach and all the discussions that the two of you have had [00:34:00] about, Hey, someday, when I get my own program, this is what I’m going to try to do.

This is what I’d like to do. What’s something that now that you’re sitting in that chair, that when you called up Kimani, you’re like, Hey man, I did not realize that I was going to have X, Y, or Z that I had to do. Is there something that sticks out in your mind that kind of fits that description?

Dwayne Killings: [00:34:19] The hiring process stinks?

No, because I think we’re both blessed with like such unique relationships and you people come on the journey with you. And they think when that moment happens, they think they’re coming to this moment with you. Like they think you already hired them like, just because you have a relationship.

And then when you make a decision not to bring them on and make them a part of your staff, you only got three assistant coaching position. It hurts a little bit. And it’s scarred some relationship that, that hurts. You know, it’s that’s a real emotional piece to it. And, and I had bruiser, Flint actually told me that’s going to be the hardest thing for you.

And that. That’s the [00:35:00] part that I think was the hardest. And I didn’t expect that I could just kind of expected like, Hey, I’m going to be able to do my P and there’s a lot more politics involved in hiring your staff and managing people cause we’re in a people business. And then I told him too, I mean, I got here and I don’t mean this in an arrogant way, but I’m ready for this job.

And I said to him, he’s ready to be a head coach because I know like I don’t, I didn’t, I wasn’t ready to say that till I got here, but then I started to see it and execute my plan. Now there’s another part too, where we get to play games, running the program and getting these things addressed and having a clear vision of how you can execute it.

I feel very confident about that. And I know the conversations that we’ve had, we share ideas, he’s ready to do it also. I mean, he’s really, really good. And I know Danny leans on them and I know that school and that institution and program understands that he’s a major conduit to their success. And I think.

Sometimes the way the business works and you know, all of [00:36:00] these different zooms and calls and all that, it’s like, you need to prepare yourself to become a head coach and you start like, be like, am I ready? Am I ready? Am I ready? When not you probably not, but you’re ready to do the business and run your program the way you thought of it and envisioned it.

And now you gotta figure it out if it works or not. But I knew when I hit the ground, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how I was going to go from day one to day 60, whatever I’m at right now.

Mike Klinzing: [00:36:26] Kimani, we talked to, I talked to Dwayne about, go ahead, share what you’re going to say. And then I’ll ask my question.

Kimani Young: [00:36:31] I have to Mike, cause it’s been so exciting to watch that process play out for DK. Like it’s, it’s been, so because like literally he had a plan and this is what I’m most proud of. I’m like I hope I hope this works for them. Right. I really do. We don’t know until we start playing games, but to watch him execute the plan that he had in place prior to even getting this opportunity has been the most fun thing to watch.

Right? Like everything that we talked about, [00:37:00] everything that he all is full of creative ideas that he’s come up with over the years that he’s felt so passionately about. And he’s executing them now as a head coach. That’s, that’s been the most fun thing to watch. All right.

Mike Klinzing: [00:37:11] So from your perspective, we talked to Dwayne about this already, but just want to get your take on it.

What have you been doing? Like how do you go about. Putting together your plan for when you eventually get an opportunity to lead a program, are you a three ring binder guy or are you a computer file guy? Are you a, how have you put together your plan? What does that look like in terms of you collecting ideas and things that you want to do?

How do you organize it?

Kimani Young: [00:37:39] Yeah, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t work that way. You know, and it’s funny, I talk to people about this all the time, and I wrote an article a couple years ago for a good friend of mine. At coach beat.net Robin there, it was probably one of the Mo one of the people that’s most responsible for me getting into college.

But the title of the article was be there now. [00:38:00] And my perspective has always been whatever job that I was at. I wanted to put everything in my power into that job. And be the best at it. You know, when I was in AAU coach you know, my job was to create opportunities for every kid and family that was in my program.

And I wasn’t thinking about getting into college. I wasn’t thinking about getting into high school. My job was literally put everything I had into this AAU program. And from that I developed relationships that created an opportunity to get into college. And when I was at FIU, I wasn’t thinking about getting a UConn.

I was thinking about how do we, how do we get FIU to relevance? Right. They had, they had won nine games in the last three years. How do we get this place to a point of respectability? We won 18 games and the next year Richard Pitino was offered the Minnesota job. And he felt strongly enough about my input and my impact at FIU in 10 months, That [00:39:00] he took me to Minnesota, which was a huge jump. You know, now I’m in a big tent and when I got to Minnesota, I was just like, wait a minute. How do we get Minnesota to the NCAA tournament? How do we create some consistency at this program? I never once thought about I thought I’d be with Richard forever.

Or if I mean, I never even thought about the opportunity of becoming a head coach, not at that point. And then you get an opportunity to, to come to UConn when you get to UConn, it’s all about, I this is a a program that’s rich in history and tradition. How do we get it back to that?

And now two years later I’m associate head coach and opportunities are coming my way. So I truly feel like my, my, my, just my perspective is like, just do the best job you can at the job you have and other opportunities to come.

Mike Klinzing: [00:39:47] Absolutely. I think that makes a ton of sense. When you start looking at, if you go and your eyes start wandering to the next place, you’re going to end up doing a disservice to where you are.

And I think [00:40:00] anytime that you can be, it’s that saying, be where your feet are and make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to do in your job, where you are. And then that’s when opportunities are going to come. We had a guy that Has been on the podcast. You guys know Joe’s decision. You guys know that name at all.

Joe runs he runs like a player development program out of he’s in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. And anyway, Joe always told us this story about being at five star and he was working at the 13th station and he’s out there sweating on the tennis courts. And you know, this is back in the, back in the back in the heyday of five-star.

And he said he’s a, yeah, he was a young coach. And he said, he remembers, he remembers Garth walking by one day and just stopping and looking at him at the FA you know, through the fence and watching them and watching them for a couple of minutes. And then at some point, the two of them made eye contact and he said, Garth just nodded at me.

And he’s like, at that point, he goes, I didn’t I just, I just knew that I had to work. If I wanted to do something, I had to work really hard in the moment in order to get noticed. [00:41:00] And if I’d have been trying to get noticed. I wouldn’t have, but I just a matter of he walked by and he saw what I was doing and gave me that nod of approval.

I think that nod of approval is kind of what you’re talking about. Kimani. I got to do my job where I am and if I do, chances are somebody’s going to notice, and then they’re going to offer me an opportunity to do something else. Dwayne, I want to, I want to go back to Wayne to what you said. It talked a little bit about the challenge of hiring your staff.

And I know one of the things that’s important to both of you guys is as young African-American coaches in the business and a responsibility that I know Dwayne, you’ve expressed that to me. And I know Kimani as part of what you guys are doing with coaches for action. I know that’s, I know that’s an important piece of what you guys want to do in the profession.

So just talk a little bit about how you approach that role as an African-American coach with we know that there are challenges out there with being able to get positions like Duane was able to get. [00:42:00] Just tell us a little bit about how you guys approached that piece of it in terms of building relationships with other young coaches that you feel like you have a responsibility to mentor and help to continue to grow.

And then Dwayne, a little bit, I know you’ve talked about the pressure that I don’t know if it’s pressure that you feel, but just the opportunity, the responsibility that you feel like, Hey, I got to come in and do this job well, because somebody has given me an opportunity. So just, I don’t know who wants to go first on that question.

But just tell me a little bit about what you guys talk about in that area.

Dwayne Killings: [00:42:29] Well, I mean, there’s a pressure to perform for a lot of different reasons, but I know that if I’m successful, Kimani gets a job. I mean, and I, and I said, it I’ve said it to my team. I said to my staff, I carry that on my heart.

And I carry that into the gym every single day. Because I was lucky to get the job, but there’s a lot of guys there. Are maybe more talented than I am that haven’t got their opportunity. So the more success that I have that Kyle Neptune has, the Ben Johnson has means that there’s more guys that look like us will [00:43:00] get opportunities and it should only come down to being the best candidate, not because of the color of our skin.

I mean, that’s just how I feel. But I’m really excited for all these guys that have gotten great opportunities. Like all represented great institutions for my staff. I’m excited, man. I, we have a really diverse staff. You know, we have guys from all walks of life and the fact that I can give them opportunities is terrific.

Now the same time, Matt Griffin, the kid that I coached in college his dad was a head coach, Adam Sienna. He’s dreamed of being in college basketball coach. I gave him that opportunity, but then I got Dan , who’s my operations director. Who’s a young kid whose parents got here from India.

That’s huge. You know, cause that’s an opportunity that it wasn’t about that Dan was the best fit for the job, but what he represents is terrific for my program for this community. Diversity is an issue in our sport. Diversity is the issue in our countries and issue on our campus. I [00:44:00] was able to address that in a small population that I can control and influence.

That means a lot to me, but it’s always going to be about who’s best fit for the job. That’s that’s never going to be something that’s negotiable for me. But. I’ve told Dan I’ve told KJ, I’ve called to-date in Jackson. I’ve told him with tips. You guys got to execute for your positions and for your jobs because you can’t screw this up for the next guy I represent Kimani young KJ Baptist represents the next guy from Boston, Massachusetts, who wants to get an opportunity who was a GA.

You have to make sure that you do the job the right way, because if you screw it up, You’re screwing up for a lot of other guys. And that’s something that coach dumpy instilled in me a long time ago. We used to talk to recruits about it all the time. And we took chances on kids that were struggling academically.

We took a kid, Ramon Moore, who a lot of people said it wasn’t, he wasn’t gonna make it. You know, it just wasn’t going to work for him because he was from the inner city of Philadelphia. He was struggling academically. Kate graduated he was an all league player. He’s making good money as a [00:45:00] professional right now because we supported them.

And what we told them all the time was you can’t screw this up for the next Ramon more. And he believed it. He understood it. So then when we recruited the next guy, he said, Hey, like if you come here, this is what these guys did for me. And I want to make sure that we now, whether it’s through camps, through our zoom series that we’re doing like.

We want to give back to the game, but I’m watching to see who’s on that screen because I’m hoping that I can identify the next guy to be a part of our program. And I said a ton, like that’s how detailed we are in our thought process. And every single thing that we do, because we have to protect this opportunity because I got to get right for c’mon.

Kimani Young: [00:45:38] I mean, listen we’re all about creating opportunities for each other, creating opportunities for minority coaches. That’s an awesome thing to do. But at the same time, there was, there is a responsibility that comes with that. Like we, we have to produce, this is a performance based business.

Like this is very cut and dry. What we do for a level by the time there’s not a lot of gray area. Like there’s not a lot of room for error. Like we have to, we have to, we gotta get it done.

And DKs, right? Like we all shoulder. Some responsibility in that. And that’s what makes our relationship so important.  Right. We got to help each other. It does. It just doesn’t, it doesn’t end with me and him there’s you know, you mentioned CFA, like, like CFA was awesome because we’re, we’re minority coaches in the same league that compete against each other twice twice a year. But outside of that, let’s, let’s create some opportunities for our student athletes and represent them, represent their families and be a voice for them.So you know, it’s definitely something that we gotta keep building on and he’s right. You know, those young guys that he hired, they got, they got gotta come in there and crush it. Right. They got, they got to come in and crush it. And I, and I said that to them I met with his staff when I went there.

Like I wasn’t going up there just as, Hey, let’s go hang out. Like, no, this is important to me. You [00:47:00] this is one of my close friends. I know, I know what this means to him. Like you guys got a huge responsibility here. We got, we gotta get it done. So No, that’s definitely important that way.

Mike Klinzing: [00:47:09] When you think about the role of Dwayne, you as the head coach, and you talk about putting together your staff and building your staff, how do you look at you guys?

I guess as assistant coaches, how do you look at what you want from your head coach in terms of helping you to develop and become a better coach and helping you to advance in your career? How do you think about that as an assistant? When you talk about the relationship that you have with your head coach, are you going to the head coach and asking for feedback in terms of how am I doing?

What can I do better? What am I doing? Well, what are my strengths and weaknesses are those conversations that you both had when you were assistant coaches? And then Dwayne, when you think about working with your staff now, is that something that you hope your assistants [00:48:00] come to you and say, Hey, How am I doing?

Am I fulfilling the things that you want me to do and how can I continue to grow and get better Kimani? Why don’t you take that one first?

Kimani Young: [00:48:09] Yeah, for me, I never, I felt like a head coach had so much on their plate. Like that wasn’t my style. I just, my, my thing was, was making myself invaluable.

That was, that was my, that was my, my that was my my perspective. That was my, my strategy. And then like when I got into college, I had one thing to get, I was running to get in college so bad that when Richard Pitino gave me that opportunity. I said, listen, man, I’m going to be, I’m going to be an offensive lineman for this guy.

You know what I mean? Like I’m gonna do everything in my power to make his job easier. I’m gonna take things off his plate. I’m gonna take initiative. I’m gonna be loyal. I’m gonna always have his back. He’s gonna know that I appreciate this opportunity that he’s given me. And, and and I think that that’s where you start and as you get more experienced, and now you, you [00:49:00] understand the business more.

I, I talk about this all the time. I said this to DJ into his staff. Like I think every assistant coach should be the head coach of something in your program. Like we should all have something that we’re the head coach of. We got this. So coach, you don’t have to worry about this, like academics. I got it.  You do not have to worry about academics. All you have to worry about is at the end of the semester, you’re gonna have a three. Oh, like on your, on your desk. That’s it. I got everything. I got the discipline. I got the tough conversations. I have all of it. You know, somebody who’s got a handle, your culture coach.

I got it. Right. I got you. Obviously you’re the leadership and I’m an echo your messaging, but I got somebody out of line. I’m taking care of you player development. I’m coming up with the ideas, what we should be working on them. Often Steve was like, everybody on your staff should have something that w when, when the head coach lays his head on the pillow at night, he’s like, you know what?

He’s got that, [00:50:00] you know, and I think that that’s, that’s a great place to start. And then your coach appreciate you. I think that’s what it all comes down to. Like, it’s our job as assistants to make ourselves invaluable to our head coach and to the programs we work with.

Dwayne Killings: [00:50:15] Yeah, when Kimani said the head coach thing, I want you you guys should be the head coach or something.

I don’t know if you said to the staff instead of to me and one of our conversations, but I carried that right into the office. I loved it. And that’s what I’m saying. Like, there’s so many things that he’ll say, or that I’ll say to him that we can both use in our programs in our own way, like I gave my guys Responsibilities like, and I said, I don’t want to ever talk about it again.

Like I want you guys to run with it, do your own way, put your print on it. But like, I also think like in this position, I need guys to give me energy some days, like this is, this is it’s a big job. You know, this is an unbelievable opportunity for me, but I gotta go, I gotta walk into a staff meeting after fundraising planning, practice meeting with my AED, [00:51:00] stopping with somebody in the hallway I’m lucky.

Like I am walking around campus. The soccer team asked me to take a picture. I mean, there’s a lot of different things, but then you got to pivot right back. And when it’s finally time at two o’clock to get to workouts, you owe it to those kids to give them every single thing that you got, you owe it to them.

So some days I need to make sure that Matt Griffin or Hamlet Tibbs, or Dan Jackson, or  give me energy because. When I started my day at six 15 working out, like they don’t feel the same pressure that I feel, or they don’t have all the same phone calls or all the same things that they have to absorb in their course of their day.

So they give me that that’s all I need to get, make sure I can give these kids everything that I have because I owe it to them. I made a promise to him. I think those are some of the things that I think about, but like ownership is huge. I think these guys owning what they’re doing and really believing in it, and I’ve said it to them in recruiting, I’m gonna F like, I know how I felt about the kids that I recruited and I [00:52:00] pushed them on low Joe.

I pushed him on Fran. Don’t feel like, because I believed in him. So I’m like, if you don’t do the same things to me, then I’m going to waiver no different than if you think of a way to grow our program. If I don’t really feel that your heart is in it, then I don’t want to do it. So you gotta really make sure that I feel that.

And then in terms of growing a staff, I mean, that’s important to me because. I think we, I got to help them find their voice. I got to amplify who they are. I O where we are at, or tell them to make sure that I give them a platform to showcase who they are because they, I think these guys are really good.

And we have a saying in our, in our program high majors, not where you are, it’s who you are. I have high major guys. Nobody knows it. I got them. I got them. I promise you. I have them now. I need to make sure people learn that. And I don’t want to lose them. But if I do that’s okay, because that’s a great reflection of me and our program and of them.

So when they’re on the zoom with you, it’s great that they’re talking about our program, but I’m growing those guys as assistant coaches, we did immediate availability [00:53:00] for them. I’m growing them and people don’t do those things. And again, I’m not saying this the most humble way I’m taking a step further.

I know I am because I know what programs have done because I’ve been, I’ve been at a really high level and a high point. I’ve had really good conversations with Kemani and some things that frustrate us. I say, I’m going to make sure that I don’t do those things. If I have an opportunity, I got it. And I’m doing it.

Mike Klinzing: [00:53:23] Right. Give us an example of one or two things that you guys thought, man programs should be doing more of this prior to you getting the job. What’s one or two things that really, you guys talked about a lot that you said, Hey, we got to get this done. If one or both of us ends up getting a head job,

Dwayne Killings: [00:53:40] For, for on our side, I always felt like we, we, we have four years of a kid’s life and that’s going to define who they are.

They’re going to become the average of the players in the locker room and the coaches that are around them. Like, I, I was fortunate to walk on at UMass bruiser, Flint kinda grabbed my hand at a really young age. [00:54:00] You know, when I first got my assistant coaching job at BU like, I was like, all right, well, how do you dress?

And I just brought like the bruiser Flint start-up kid. I got some go on the Fairfax. I mean, I just try to emulate what I saw for me, like, I think programs need a better job, like. We give kids a ton of money cost of attendance Pell grant. They don’t know how to manage it. Financial literacy is an issue in the grand scheme of things like kids don’t understand a debit card, how to save money.

They don’t know vehicles like acorns to help them save money for their future. Like we need to grow their minds. If we grow their minds, we’re going to grow them as players. Like that’s a real thing. I think. The other thing I think, like we all need to do a better job is hitting pause sometimes.

Like there’s, there’s like we got to get the ball screen defense, right. We have to get our fundamentals. Right. But we also need to make sure we’re growing these kids as men and you know, what are we doing to do those things, talking about what’s going on in the world talking to make sure that their minds are [00:55:00] just in the right place.

They’re absorbing a lot of different nonsense. And I think. Sometimes our frustration is about how they’re performing on a quarter, connected to all the things they’re experiencing in life. We just don’t help guide them through it enough, because again, we got to get to the game, we got to get through a ball, screen defense, we got to get our shooting programs and those things are all really important, but we also have to make sure we’re growing these kids as men.

And I don’t think that people do that enough. And that that’s really important to our program. You know, we have a leadership academy that we’re doing for six weeks this summer. That stuff is paramount to me cause it’s impacted my life. I know I’ve impacted kids doing it in my own way as an assistant that that’s, we’re pouring into these kids at a, at an elite level because it means a lot to me,

Mike Klinzing: [00:55:46] Kimani thoughts on that.

Kimani Young: [00:55:48] I mean, again, Mike, like we, we feel like we share, And a lot of the same a lot of those same ideas, like the summer is so important the summer is when. You know, not [00:56:00] only you can become better as a player, but you can become better as a person. Right. And we did similar things at Minnesota.

We’re doing similar things here at UConn, I told Danny this year, like we, we have a speaker series where we bring somebody in to come speak chart every, every, every week throughout the summer eight weeks we’ve had always claret. We’ve had Chris Herren we’ve you know, just different people, social media, people, just different people that can address different issues and, and young people’s lives.

But I thought this year it was important for us to address leadership. Like truly like teach our young people how to become leaders. And, and it’s something that we’ll go to focus on because it’s a, it’s an Achilles heel in our program. You know, we got a ton of of young talent and good young players.

But we don’t have that alpha male that, that, that God is saying, no, this is, this is. I’m the leader of this program and when you have a player led program you have a good program. So you know, these are definitely [00:57:00] ideas that we bounce off each other every day. We will continue to do that.

Mike Klinzing: [00:57:04] Let’s ask one more serious question. Then we’ll get into some fun stuff, social media. How do you guys help your players to navigate the world of social media? Because we know that there’s obviously positives to it and there’s lots of good things that can come from it. But we also know that there’s a ton of negativity.

I can imagine, especially Kimani thinking about what your players that UConn potentially could come across online after a game that you guys lose, or they have a poor performance. I know the kind of stuff that they can see out there on social media. So how do you guys help your players to navigate that, to make sure that they can utilize it in a positive way and maybe block out the negative.

How do you guys approach that?

Kimani Young: [00:57:52] Yeah. I mean, for us w we just, the real conversations, you know what I mean? They pretty, pretty candid. Like, listen [00:58:00] personally I, I tell our guys, I’m like, look, your social media should be about basketball, should be about your family. It should be about your faith.Those are the three things that you show some it should be about. And you know, you, you get into, you get into a tough situation when you get outside of that because you know, I tell them once you put it out there, it’s out there forever. And you know, w when you’re, when you’re a student athlete, especially at a place like UConn, you’re on a big stage, right?

You’ve got a huge platform where people are following you and people are looking up to you and you representing not only yourself, but this university representing your family, the communities that you come from, you gotta be careful. So that’s just on a personal note in terms of, of, you know fan reaction and things like that, that you gotta deal with.

Hey, listen, man, it comes with the territory. You know, when you, when you decided to come to a place like UConn, you came here because you want to be the best [00:59:00] of the best. You know, you want to be at the top of your field, you want to be an NBA player. You want to be a big time college player. You want to be a professional she’s you want to win at a high level, there’s a price that comes with that. And you can’t put, you can’t put any value on to it. You know, you got stupid fans out there that bet on the games or whatever and their case. And then that’s reality. But, but you’re the one that has to walk into that arena every night and perform w with millions of people watching.

So understand who you are, understand what comes with it. But obviously use social media the right way,

Mike Klinzing: [00:59:37] Dwayne, thoughts on social media?

Dwayne Killings: [00:59:39] Yeah, for us, it’s, it’s a vehicle to grow our program and raise awareness of it. You know, it’s a little bit different, like, like Kemani has a lot of eyeballs. I’m trying to get a lot of eyeballs.

You know, but I think we’ve, we create our own narrative in our short time here because we’re trying to connect to the community. We’re trying to showcase our players [01:00:00] showcase what we’re doing, because as you guys said earlier, we’re trying to grow the excitement for our program and the way you do it is by telling your story.

And I think social media allows you, excuse me, is to tell it in your own way. And it’s been exciting that people have gravitated towards it and noticed it. We’re going to continue to, excuse me, we’re going to continue to use it as much as we can, because I think it’s a cost-effective way to showcase who we are.

What. Excuse me, who we are, what we’re doing. And I think most importantly, it’s a chance to grow our players brands and that’s really important at our level because again, not all the time people understand it. Like they know who James book night is, but we have really good players here in our own world and, and we’re trying to grow our world and we’re just focused on you Albany basketball.

Now, I think here, it’s kinda similar to UConn in that there’s no pro sports in towns. So [01:01:00] people really pay attention and the newspapers get a lot of coverage for our program for CNN across the street. So I think social media gives the chance to kind of amplify our messages even more in our own way.

Mike Klinzing: [01:01:11] All right. Before we jump into a couple of fun questions to wrap things up, anything else on a serious note Dwayne or Kimani that you guys want to touch on in terms of your relationship and just the things that you guys have been able to share and help one another with throughout your career. Is there anything else that we didn’t catch before we move on to just some fun questions?

Dwayne Killings: [01:01:30] For me, I mean, it’s, it’s not just basketball though. It’s like life like it’s been like decisions to buy a house what do I buy my wife you know, showing off my kids you know, but he’s always been there. Like I could be on a recruit trip, one o’clock in the morning. I know if I call him, he’ll answer and we’ll talk for 30 minutes, help me get through that middle part of the trip texts in the morning.

You get there. All right. You know, get a win. I know I got a text message lose. And now I got a text man. And you know, when we were done [01:02:00] for the season, they got to the NCAA tournament. I was rooting for him. That’s just, it’s, it’s real family. And I think our business and our lives, it makes it so chaotic that you don’t get a chance to spend enough time in person.

But you know, you always know that person’s got your back and you’re at games and it’s like you pick right up where you left off. You know, and it’s, we started like Peloton group do the pandemic like we get through every situation, pandemic, social injustice, we got each other’s back through it all and we try to make each other better, you know?

And I think that’s what a real relationship is about. But I think the relationship that we have, and I think our circle has in our business is really unique. And you know, we pull from that all the time and, and I love him to death. Cause he’s helped me get to where I am and get through other moments in my life.


Kimani Young: [01:02:49] I mean, listen, he, he hit the nail on the head this is, this is this is a true brotherhood between me and DK, this isn’t, this isn’t about basketball. This isn’t about having a good [01:03:00] time. This is about two people that really connected on a, on a, on a, on a personal level.

Right. And, and he knew my story, eating my plight. He knew everything I was doing. Prior to getting to college, he knew he knows his strengths, my weaknesses, he knows all the struggles. When you have somebody that’s a peer that you can share those things with and get through tough times with it’s, it, it lends to an awesome relationship.

So I appreciate them use these very important to me or a huge part of my success as well.

Mike Klinzing: [01:03:29] Absolutely. All right. We are approaching 12:20 AM, so I don’t want to go too much longer with you guys. I know, I know the wake-up call is coming early for all of us at some point. So whether it’s because of our kids or our job, but nonetheless, nonetheless, let’s go.

Let’s go with this question. What is your favorite all time college team from when you were a kid that you just love to watch? What was your all-time favorite college team? Dwayne, we’ll throw it to you first on this one.

Dwayne Killings: [01:03:59] It’s [01:04:00] hard not to say like the 1996 UMass Minutemen, like I grew up in Amherst kind of time stopped in that town at the time.

A lot of the things that we’re doing for our program it’s just stuff I experienced as, as coach Cal Perry was building it up, obviously it’s completely different what he did and where we are right now. But just watching him grow that program to that moment where you got Marcus can be aggravated DIA Lou row.

I mean, Dana dangle. I was awesome. And you know, NBA basketball player was roaming around Amherst, Massachusetts. If you’ve been there, it’s, it’s like seeing a unicorn it just wasn’t supposed to happen. So that’s my squad I always go down with them. Cause it was, it was a great moment of my life and it’s why I decided to do this for a living.

Mike Klinzing: [01:04:44] Makes sense, man, when you grow up there and that’s what you’re watching all the time, and then you capture that lightning in a bottle, like they were able to with Camby and those guys, man, it’s just yeah, I can, I can only imagine seeing a program that you never imagined was going to be able to go to those Heights to be able to, [01:05:00] to be able to see that I’m sure it was exciting.

Kimani. What about you, man?

Kimani Young: [01:05:03] Yeah, for me, it’s gotta be the Fab Five. You know, I want to say like 91, 92 you know, they just, they just the impact that they had on basketball culture at that point in time was amazing. Right. You know, with the baggy shorts and the black socks and the Herat shoes and they just brought a hip hop culture to, to college basketball, which was awesome when she I was a high school junior or senior maybe just to see dudes that look like your friends from the neighborhood competing at a crazy high level and making two national championship games and just kind of changed the game forever.

You know, for me that was, that was big.

Mike Klinzing: [01:05:41] Get that now we kinda take for granted the impact that freshmen have in college basketball, but then, I mean, that was completely and utterly unheard of me and those guys, what they did, not only from a basketball standpoint, but like what you said, just in terms of, in terms of the fashion.

I know I was [01:06:00] walking around campus in my Hirachio for sure. You know, and, and the idea of putting on a pair of black socks prior to the flat, prior to the fab five, I mean, that’s just maybe I wear my tube socks with the three with the three rings, but I wasn’t, you certainly wouldn’t put, you certainly wouldn’t put not any black socks.

Let’s put it that way. That did not exist. Prefab five. There’s no question about that

Kimani Young: [01:06:21] anyway. Good Mike, you know what I mean? It wasn’t like, I mean going to toe, total toe to toe with duke, go for national championship they just competed at a high level being Ohio state and final four, like it, the big time game, Jimmy Jackson.

You know, just to watch those guys play as a young player was exciting.

Mike Klinzing: [01:06:38] And the fact it’s just amazing when you think about that class and just how. How, well, they all fit together. I mean, just positionally and I mean, you talk about capturing, capturing the moment with those five guys and just each one of them filling their role.

And I know there was, there was a little bit of a a disconnect between and between [01:07:00] Jalen rose and the rest of those guys in Weber. And it seems like maybe a, I guess I heard that maybe there. Coming back together a little bit and bringing Sea-web back into the fold, which obviously like to see because of everything that those guys went through and growing up together, and then playing at Michigan and the, the pro careers, obviously that you know, Joanne Howard and, and Jalen rose and C Webb had, it’s just you know, you like to see that, that all come together.

My own personal favorite. I got to I, I loved, and I loved the Jordan, the Jordan freshman year championship team with James worthy and Perkins and Jimmy black and Matt Doherty. For whatever reason, I kind of fell in love with Carolina blue a year or two before that, when I was like nine, 10 years old.

And then, and then Jordan just pushed me over the top to become a Carolina guy. And then I always loved the five slamma Jamma. Euston cougars, first name on the back of the Jersey. You see it, you see it, you see a ChemE on the back of that Jersey you see you know, you had Mr. Meet, Mr. Mean Larry Meesha and [01:08:00] you know, Drexler.

And I mean, just that team, when you look back at the talent on that team, the fact that now, and again, Valvano’s NC state team had a ton of talent, too. When you look at the pros that came off of that team and the careers that you know, that Thoreau Bailey had in the NBA and whatever, but still that, that Houston team was just you know, they were, when they were at their peak and running up and down the floor, they were, they were a lot of fun.

Jason, what about you, man? We got to get you in here. So yeah, so I think

Jason Sunkle: [01:08:26] I have to go with my cop-out answer and that is, I didn’t watch much college basketball when I was a kid, just because my dad wasn’t really into it. What we were into doing was watching. The old, he had taped a bunch of Jordan UNC games.

And that was obviously before YouTube. So there were people that had never got to watch him play. And luckily my dad had decided for whatever godforsaken reason to pull out the VCR and record those games. So like I would watch them with him. And so obviously I became a UNC fan as well. Obviously [01:09:00] I was a little bit it was passed when he was playing college basketball, but I actually think back to like, it’s it’s, I don’t, it’s not obviously as old, but like what really got me back into college basketball was Aaron Craft at UL at Ohio state.

And I don’t know why, but Aaron Craft just played a way that for me was. Like you knew he was never going to make it in the NBA, but he just put it all on the floor. He was kind of the, the poor man’s Matthew Delvin Dover, in my opinion, like he was dive on the floor, getting loose balls. I mean, He, he kind of, he’s what rejuvenated me getting back into college, basketball him.

And they had a bit of time with Evan Turner and obviously Greg Oden, I feel bad for that guy, but you know, he’s always going to be, he’s going to be up there with the whole you know, who should have been picked first situation, obviously him and Duran. And then obviously Jordan’s situation I want to get, who is picked before Jordan, Mike?

You know this, I don’t, I can’t think of off the top of my head. Sam Bowie, [01:10:00] Sam Bouey. Okay.

Mike Klinzing: [01:10:01] And it came, you can’t argue with picking the Akeem overhead picking the

Dwayne Killings: [01:10:05] chemo. My dad had me in a Sam Bowie Jersey back in the day.

Mike Klinzing: [01:10:10] Oh wow. That’s rough.

Jason Sunkle: [01:10:14] You got a picture of that. You got a picture that we can put that in the show notes.

Mike Klinzing: [01:10:17] Yeah, that’ll be good. And then we’ll put that

Kimani Young: [01:10:21] they had Clyde Drexler, man. He said he didn’t need Jordan.

Mike Klinzing: [01:10:23] your exact exactly. Oops. That’s oops. Oops. Might’ve been a vitamin. It might’ve been a mistake as good as Clive was.

Kimani Young: [01:10:33] I gotta tell you this, Mike though. Great. There’s a great Bobby Knight line about when,

Kimani Young: [01:10:39] Houston drafted a team over overjoyed it I guess Houston they’re there.

You know, that thing was, Hey, we need a center. Bobby Knight was like, play  Michael Jordan at center.

Mike Klinzing: [01:10:53] I remember you guys have probably seen the clip of, I think it’s during, I think it’s even before the 84 [01:11:00] Olympics, I think it was like right after the Olympic trials, a Bob Knight’s saying that this guy’s going to be the great, he’s going to be the greatest player in the history of the game.

And just going through, I’ve never seen anybody more competitive. I’ve never seen anybody. Who’s a better athlete. And just he went through this whole litany of things. It just became that just became what Jordan was. All right. So on that note, here’s my last question. And now we’re not going to be, I’m not going to ask you to give me the, the greatest player of all time, but give me your top three, who are your top three guys, put them in any order you want, unless you want to definitively tell me who the greatest player of all time is.

Give me your top three of all time. Kimani you go first then.

Kimani Young: [01:11:38] I mean, it’s, it’s hard to argue with obviously, Michael you know, it’s hard to argue with Michael, Kobe, LeBron Kareem. I mean, it’s so hard. Three it’s tough. It’s tough.

Mike Klinzing: [01:11:56] Give him the Mount Rushmore. We’ll go for,

Jason Sunkle: [01:11:58] for Kimani.

[01:12:00] Kimani Young: [01:12:01] Yeah, no, for me it’s it’s Kareem. It’s it’s LeBron it’s

Dwayne Killings: [01:12:05] Kobe. Michael Jordan

you know, Bird was a great player. I mean, it there’s so many great, great players, man. Oscar Robertson, you know what I mean? Like this,

Mike Klinzing: [01:12:20] I wish there was, well, I wish there was more film of those old guys I’ll share. I’ll share mine in a second.

There. I got an old guy in there that the film that you watch it, this guy is just an incredible Dwayne, who’s your top three.

Dwayne Killings: [01:12:32] I’m going to go. Michae,l LeBron I’m going to put Magic in there. Magic. Eddie can get that’s hard, man. It’s really hard. I mean, I’ll put Larry Bird in there and you know, what’s hard.

This is crazy. This is gonna sound insane. Right. But like, I’m a, he’s not, not in the top five, not in the top 10, but I think Kevin Garnett [01:13:00] like redefine like the modern era of basketball, like, cause he, he could switch. She was athletic just for like the, the space that I’m in, in my life, my trash talking.


Mike Klinzing: [01:13:11] yeah. Coming out of high school. I mean,

Dwayne Killings: [01:13:14] he has a bigger impact on the modern game right now than people realize, because he didn’t have, like, he couldn’t shoot it. Like guys shoot it now, but he could handle it and he could step out and he made that. Okay. Cause he could guard well in a different

Jason Sunkle: [01:13:29] era,

Mike Klinzing: [01:13:30] he would he’d shoot it today.

If he was playing.

Dwayne Killings: [01:13:35] No, his mechanics were horrendous, but, but when he kind of, he, he, he, he put a threat to like Tim Duncan and all those guys. Cause, cause he, he could played so different especially on both sides of the ball. Like I he’s a guy that like, if you put it in a different time window, he’s the guy that like people forget about, but he’s not, he’s not top five.

Yeah, no I know.

Mike Klinzing: [01:13:56] Yeah. All right, Jay, go ahead. And then I


Jason Sunkle: [01:13:59] Jordan, [01:14:00] LeBron and I I’m going a little left field on this one. I have to put a will in there. And here’s why. I mean, I, you just saw him. He was a freak of nature and obviously I, who knows how he would play in today’s game. I still think he would play pretty darn good.

But there, they didn’t make players like him back then. And maybe that’s when you see the videos, like the random videos you can find on YouTube, if you go in like a deep dive and you just see him, he looks literally like a trade next to all the people that are he’s playing against, but he still scored a hundred

Dwayne Killings: [01:14:33] points in a game.

How many rings? How many rings too?

Kimani Young: [01:14:40] Yeah, there’s a lot

Dwayne Killings: [01:14:42] of Russell.

Mike Klinzing: [01:14:44] Yeah. So here, so here’s mine. So I’m a wilt guy too. And, and, and I’m a Wilke guy, despite the fact that I think Kimani you bring up a great point because when we evaluate the greatest players of all time, and when you think about the argument that gets raised between [01:15:00] Jordan.

And LeBron, right? The argument is Michael six at AU in the finals. LeBron’s foreign six. And that six and old record that Michael has is, is unimpeachable. And that’s, that’s the argument that I use when I, when I have these discussions with people who want want to tell me that LeBron’s better than Jordan.

And I don’t know if you live, if you live through Michael Jordan, I don’t know how you, I don’t know how you think anybody at his peak is better. Now, LeBron might end up having a better career. When you look at, he may end up being the all time leading score in the league. He I mean, just the career records he’s going to put up are incredible, but with, will I look at it, I look at it sort of the opposite way, and it’s hard to, it’s hard combining to your point to say that.

I’d pick will over, over Russell, because Russell was such a winner and you look at whatever 11 titles in 13 years, and then he did it as a player coach and all those things. And then you just look at some of the statistics that we’ll [01:16:00] put up. And I think when I, when I think about will, the thing that I think about, and Jason kind of alluded to it, I think if you took wilt Chamberlain from, if you took 1962 will Chamberlain and you didn’t even, I’m not saying bring him into today’s modern training and nutrition and all these things.

I think if you just took 1962 will Chamberlain, you throw them in a time machine and you put them in the NBA today, he would probably translate better than any player from back in that era, just because you watch his speed and quickness and size and all those things. I just think he translates to the game.

And then you look at his again, you look at the statistics and all those things and that’ll pay. So the play was different and whatever, but so despite my own. I almost go against my own sentiments of what basketball is when I, when I think of will, just because of the statistics are so crazy.

So my top, my top four would be Georgia. LeBron will. And then my fourth guy, I think, I think I’d go with Duane. I think I go, I think I go [01:17:00] magic Johnson. You think about magic being 19 and what he did in that finals against the Lakers when Kareem went out and beat the Sixers and you know, with Dr. J and that whole crew you can’t go, but it’s, it’s tough, man.

It’s, it’s really, really tough. I think you can to try to cut it down to four impossible, impossible. I think maybe you could probably go like the top eight and feel pretty secure that you got the right eight, but to, to, to get four and eliminate you think about all the great centers. Jason, I talked about this before you think about how the center, at least the traditional center has kind of been marginalized.

And yet, if you look at the history of the game, The top 10 players. I mean, five of them project.

Jason Sunkle: [01:17:44] I think we had seven when we did our list originally.

Mike Klinzing: [01:17:48] Yeah. Out of the top 15. I mean, you think about Wilt, Kareem, Shaq, right? Shaq’s gotta be in the top. Yeah.

Dwayne Killings: [01:17:55] You forget

Kimani Young: [01:17:55] about

Mike Klinzing: [01:17:56] sir. You know, and he’s just Shaq and

[01:18:00] Jason Sunkle: [01:18:02] looks like Shaq tonight from the free throw line

Mike Klinzing: [01:18:04] guy. So he’s got a, he’s got, he’s got, he’s got to figure that out, man. He’s got

Dwayne Killings: [01:18:07] to figure it out and that’s operating at a high level right now. They are without

Jason Sunkle: [01:18:12] hardened too. So yeah. Anyway, sorry. Yeah, no,

Mike Klinzing: [01:18:15] that’s all. That’s all MBA takes. That’s it? That’s it.

All right. Well, fellows, we we are approaching an hour and a half. We are approaching 12:36 AM. I cannot. Thank you guys enough for, for jumping out this, Dwayne, obviously, thanks again, as always for allowing us the access to you and your program. And it’s just, it continues to be a lot of fun to be able to follow and learn more about you.

Each time you jump on, we learn more and Kimani pleasure to have you join us. I can see, I could see here the affection that the two of you have for one another. And just the relationship that you guys have built. It’s clear that each of you is the other’s biggest advocate. And as we all know, anybody who has a best friend, anybody who has somebody who has their back [01:19:00] under any circumstance, you know how valuable that is both in your personal life and your professional life.

So I thank both of you guys for joining us, really, really do appreciate it. And to everyone out there, thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.

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