NEB Media is pleased to announce the We Work Hoops Skills Academy, held in partnership with pro trainer Christian Simmons. This is an individual skills event for 5th - 12th grade athletes who want to take their game to the next level. The We Work Hoops Skills Academy will be March 25th at Riverdale High School. The 5th - 8th grade session will be from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, and the high school session will be from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Each session will include drills designed to improve all aspects of attendee's game, instruction from pro trainer Christian Simmons and his staff, and 5-on-5 competition in front of evaluators. The admission cost is $75 per participant.
Christian Simmons played professional basketball in Europe after a highly successful collegiate career at the University of the Cumberlands. He began training athletes in 2012. Simmons currently is affiliated with the Tennessee Flight program, a member organization of the Nike Girls' EYBL, as well as several All-American camps and showcases from across the country.
Recently, Tim Lownsdale of NEB Media sat down with Simmons to ask him a few questions about his journey thus far, and where he sees it taking him next.
What is your background with basketball?
My background with basketball? I was a decent player that had really good coaching and just happened to be 6'5", long and athletic, and with a smooth jumper. I had good high school, college, and European pro careers. I reached my dreams of playing professionally and pretty much stayed injury free for the most part, so I have no complaints.
What encouraged you to get into training?
I knew as a kid that once I stopped playing I wanted to be involved with coaching in some form or fashion. As a player I was obsessed with getting better and always worked at the game, so over the course of my career I observed and took mental notes of literally everything from a player development standpoint from my high school coach to both of my college coaches and my professional coaches. With that being said, the player development part of the game is what in love with, and that has become my passion. I can honestly say this part of the game just as much if not more than being a player. Just seeing the impact it has on a player's life and the relationships I've built because of it. But I don't want it to get confused, I do know the X's and O's as well.
What do you hope to accomplish in the long-term?
Long-term, I want to work in the NBA or WNBA as a player development coach, which is an assistant coach that is strictly responsible for player improvement. I've had opportunities to do this overseas, but it's going to take the right situation for me to make that move and take my family away from the States.
Do you train athletes locally? Nationally?
Not to sound arrogant by any means, but it's more nationally. I typically either travel to players or they'll travel to me for sessions all over the country.
Who are some notable players you have worked with?
Man, I'm not much of a name-dropper and I'm not the guy that wants credit for anything and the players I have worked with would be the first to tell you that, but some names that come to mind are Nina Davis (Baylor University/Pro), Shacobia Barbee (University of Georgia/Pro), Alexa Middleton (Iowa State University), Rebecca Greenwell (Duke University), Crystal Dangerfield (University of Connecticut), Ieshia Small (University of Maryland), Rachel Hollivay (Rutgers University/Pro), Erin Boley (University of Oregon), Kaylan Pugh (Georgia Tech), Shelby Gibson (Ole Miss), and Ansley Eubank (University of North Alabama). My latest pupil is Jayla Hemingway from Memphis, who I have spent more time with than any player I've worked with. She is currently a junior in high school and is on pace to be really special when it's all said and done.
What do you think is a good age for an athlete to begin skill development?
This is just my opinion, but it depends on the kid. It could be 5, it could be 12 or 13, maybe. Each player is different, so I can't really say, but a lot of it is timing.
What programs and events are you affiliated with?
Tennessee Flight of the Nike EYBL. I work numerous All-American camps and showcases, skills academies, etc, all over the country.
If there is one thing you would want an athlete to never forget in all of this, what would that be?
One thing? No, I'll say this to every athlete: be grateful for everything and be so busy improving yourself and those around you that you have no time to criticize others.
To sign up for the We Work Hoops Skills Academy, fill out the registration form here.