Nkosi Adams, the head coach for the 2017-18 UTM Varsity Eagles basketball program, knows a little something about basketball and how to make the players he coaches into more physically and mentally fit athletes. In an interview with Adams, a man who prides himself on a calm demeanour, he answers questions students can take to develop themselves into better athletes—especially if they want to try out for the men’s team in September. Adams will be taking on a cast of athletes next season that are talented and determined, but Adams is always in the process of recruiting to look for that hidden gem who will help them succeed in the OCAA.

From an outsider’s perspective, Adams’ looks at players like the popular Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors as players who don’t necessarily exude the physical stature needed to dominate—yet they’re known as a couple of the greatest players in the NBA. “Typically, basketball players are a lot bigger than six feet, so with a guy like Chris Paul, you can tell that a lot of his game is thought out. He can’t always rely on his physical stature to win games. He has to be a lot smarter than everyone else,” says Adams.

When playing for the UTM Varsity Eagles, you can expect to train with a coach who treats his athletes equally, while understanding that particular players don’t deserve special treatment because they all have their individual needs. “One of the things I learned from my youth in basketball is that as a coach, you have to understand your players have the same expectations; whether they’re the star or the guy sitting on the bench, they all want to win and have success for themselves,” Adams says. He believes that to have a united team, everyone has to understand their role and be accountable for their responsibilities.

“As a coach, you never stop learning. You can take pieces from all coaches and adopt that into your style of coaching. One of the coaches I admire is Jay Wright [Villanova University head basketball coach]. He’s very calm on the sidelines, so his players take on the same approach as well. Obviously the game can get passionate, but his calm demeanour is an asset his players feed off of in a positive way,” says Adams. Ultimately, to be at your best physically, your mind needs to be at its best as well. Having a coach sputter insults at a player isn’t constructive. Adams believes his calmness gets through to players, allowing them to transfer training to on-court success.

Adams knows a thing or two about how to develop an amateur basketball player into a dominant Varsity athlete. He believes that instead of focusing too much time fantasizing about your game day performance, think about your training routines and how to increase your off-court commitments to basketball. “You see a lot of parents who want the most success for their kids by exposing them to too many games. Their travel schedule now limits their child’s opportunity to develop the fundamentals necessary to become a productive basketball player. You’re only as good as your level of training and effort.”

If you’re serious about acquiring a spot on the men’s team next year, effort needs to be at the forefront of your priorities in getting better. While some players who believe they already have a spot solidified on the team spend a week or two on vacation, an underdog student can improve upon their strengths day after day and eventually take over. “Basketball is a game where everybody has a role to play. You may be a good defender, so I’ll want you to defend, or you can be a good shooter, and I’ll want you to shoot. The success of a player depends on his strengths and building upon them,” says Adams.

Overall, students should focus on developing their strengths, use outside sources such as YouTube to gain knowledge and develop structural and fundamental aspects of their game, and work harder than the rest of the competition. As the Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher, Marcus Stroman says, “Height doesn’t measure heart.”