April has come and gone, and with it the hopes for many of the thousands of uncommitted 2013 prospects who were looking to catch the eye of some school during the “live recruiting window”.
T.J. Ford played professionally for nine seasons.
Through the countless storylines that April provided, one of the most intriguing was TJ Ford Elite, an AAU team out of Houston that won the Real Deal in Little Rock and the Lone Star Challenge in Arlington. The team is coached by two former NBA standouts, T.J. Ford and James Posey, both who recently retired and both who have a passion for teaching and working the sidelines.
Attend one of their games and you will hear them shouting “Let’s get 10 deflections in three minutes....Communicate.....Come here, I want to make sure you understand what I’m trying to tell you.”
“My last three years in the NBA was to teach and mentor the young guys we had, Darren Collision, Lance Stephenson so after retiring I took the advice to be a coach and I created workouts. This team fell in place, it wasn’t my initial intention but I am going along with the course that God has put in front of me,” Ford told 247Sports. He has a collection of “kids who passionately trained and worked out for him who were discarded from the circuit.”
The result is a team that has captured two championships and has been part of a dominant spring by Texas teams.
Coincidentally, no state has produced more McDonald’s All-Americans in the past two years than Texas, with nine - something that wasn’t the case when Ford was coming up.
“Our Texas team that made the Final Four in 2003 opened the door for today,” Ford said. “Texas is now finally getting its due respect”.
The success of this team is rooted in that and the kids are responding. So too are college coaches and scouts who are eyeing a group of young men who are maturing under Ford.
“We believe in each one of these guys. Each guy has a role on the team and we expect to win. We take the approach in teaching the kids like the pros: dedication, commitment and sacrifice,” Ford said. “[We teach] what it takes to get to the highest level and how extremely hard it is, even though the pro’s make it look easy and how to be a good team because that is where everyone benefits. James and I impress upon them that, the game doesn’t owe you anything, nothing is deserved, coaches don’t have to play you, there’s no entitlement - it all must be earned”
Ironically, it is a little thing that Ford sees and is trying to improve on with his team. The most important item he wanted to teach these kids is far away from the chalkboard or even a drill.
“Body Language is critical, people make assumptions about you. It took me too long in my NBA career to realize this and how important it is,” Ford said.
When pressed about their coaching aspirations, James would really like to coach in college or the NBA and Ford, “I’d like to be the first black head basketball coach at the University of Texas”.
The players are responding and are soaking up the knowledge that’s being sent their way.
“It’s an incredible experience having two guys of this stature teaching you everything they know,” guard Coleman Edwards said.