NBA

Ground Zero Training Conducts 2017 NBA Pre-Draft Pro Day

On Friday May 26, 2017, Ground Zero Training directed its annual Pro Day workout for their 2017 NBA Pre-Draft players in Chicago in conjunction with Priority Sports and Entertainment.

2017 SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell 

2017 SEC Player of the Year Sindarius Thornwell 

With front office executives from a confirmed 26 NBA teams present, the group of players were given a fantastic opportunity to showcase themselves in front of a huge crowd of their future employers.

Pro Day 2017.JPG

Some of those in attendance included, Bryan Colangelo (Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations and General Manager), Tom Thibodeau (Minnesota Timberwolves Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations), Masai Ujiri (Toronto Raptors President of Basketball Operations), Lawrence Frank (Los Angeles Clippers Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations), John Hammond (Orlando Magic General Manager), R.C. Buford (San Antonio Spurs General Manager), Rob Pelinka (Los Angeles Lakers General Manager), and Pat Riley (Miami Heat President) among many others. It was a who’s who crowd of NBA personnel for this big day.

GZT's Tim Anderson, Patrell Green, and Jason Benadretti with the 2017 GZT NBA Pre-Draft class

GZT's Tim Anderson, Patrell Green, and Jason Benadretti with the 2017 GZT NBA Pre-Draft class

Former Arkansas Razorback Moses Kingsley

Former Arkansas Razorback Moses Kingsley

Stay tuned as these players go through the NBA Pre-Draft process leading up to the 2017 NBA Draft on June 22nd.

2017 GZT NBA Pre-Draft Class: Sterling Brown, Sindarius Thornwell, Alec Peters, Moses Kingsley, Zach Collins, Derrick Walton Jr., Kyle Kuzma, and Tyler Lydon

2017 GZT NBA Pre-Draft Class: Sterling Brown, Sindarius Thornwell, Alec Peters, Moses Kingsley, Zach Collins, Derrick Walton Jr., Kyle Kuzma, and Tyler Lydon

Inside The Association: Scout Life

Kristaps Porizingis Scout Life Jason Benadretti

The following article was written by Ground Zero Training's Executive Vice President & Director of Basketball Operations, Jason Benadretti, for the website www.talkbasket.net. The article can be found by clicking here as well. 

Do you want to go inside the NBA? Discover the inner workings of the NBA Pre-Draft process? What about understanding the NBA scouting process? Did you even know there are four types of scouts within the front office of an NBA team?

Lucky for you, I’m here to fill you in. Welcome to your inside scoop. Now let’s talk about who I am: my name is Jason Benadretti and I’m the Executive Vice President & Director of Basketball Operations at Ground Zero Training (“GZT” – www.groundzerotraining.com).

Ground Zero is the preferred training destination for many of your favorite NBA players. We specialize in elite basketball skill development, providing training with real game scenarios – not gimmicky drills like you so often see via the world of social media. We have one of the finest trainers in the world in Tim Anderson, the CEO of GZT. We are raw and edgy and not here to say or do what you like. If you want to improve and reach the next level, we are the guys to get you there. In the past three NBA Drafts alone, we have helped produce 15 selections, with 10 of those being 1st Round Picks.

My background extends beyond being a basketball trainer, as I have also coached at multiple levels of the collegiate game in the U.S.A, scouted for an NBA team, and worked as a scout for a third party service that NBA teams utilize for the NBA Draft. I’m here to take you inside the association.

Growing up, I often wondered what the NBA was like and thought that everyone involved with it was a superstar or highly paid. That is only partly true. Working closely with NBA players will quickly make you realize two things. First, these guys are way more talented than you could even imagine and secondly, I look like an ant next to the majority of them. Yes, if you are fortunate enough to play in the NBA, you are quite highly paid. If you are fortunate enough to obtain one of the few spots in the front office or coaching staff, odds are you’re still trying to figure out how to get by with the hopes of advancing up the chain.

For today, let’s talk about what the life of an NBA Scout is all about. Before I got paid to work in basketball, I had no idea how demanding a profession it is. I just assumed everyone made good money and that it was all fun and games. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here – anyone that gets to work in, and around, the game of basketball is extremely fortunate, and I, myself, feel this way each day. Most people assume that you spend your time traveling the world, watching basketball, and having international and NBA teams pay you for your opinions.

One of the things I quickly learned is that life in basketball is tough. You don’t really get to travel and explore. You travel because you have to do so to watch said team or player. For an international scout this may mean a scenario like this: you take two flights to cross the ocean, roll off your plane to catch a connection to a small city in Latvia, only to get there and have to navigate a language barrier and many other hurdles thrown your way. Head to the hotel for a shower and back out the door to watch what may be the next Kristaps Porzingis, or perhaps a 15-year-old you feel needs to be monitored. Now what? Vacation time? False. Rush right to the airport because lucky for you, there is a red-eye ticket with your name on it to Spain. Many people would use this chance to catch up on some sleep, but at times that just isn’t an option and that scouting report needs to be written up before you touch back down. Have fun feeling rested and in shape when you have to do this process on a regular basis.

As I mentioned, there are four different types of scouts within the NBA. A big thing they usually have in common is a very large amount of miles logged in the air and very few nights spent in their own beds. Think having a family is easy when you are spending the majority of the year on the road? Pretty tough to watch your children grow up through video chat and social media! Remember that body you used to make a priority to workout daily? Ha! Good luck with that one. It’s also not free spending because you work in the NBA. There is a budget in place which must be adhered to, and so often times this means long, grueling trips to see as many prospects as possible. Now, let’s discuss the four types of scouts and their roles in an organization.

International Scouts are the ones we touched on briefly, and are often the ones that pay the biggest price to their personal lives. These guys have to log some serious air miles and deal with language barriers and different customs all the time. Personally being a world traveler for work and pleasure, I know that this is no easy thing to navigate. Ever tried navigating parts of Eastern Europe without help? I have, and it’s not always the easiest experience in the world. Those friends and family you love so much back home? Well, they’ll love you, but you may just become a memory to them with how little you see each other. These days, most of the international scouts that a team employs will be based in a specific region or country abroad. This is the NBA and teams can’t afford to miss out on the next Kristaps Porzingis, Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, or Giannis Antetokounmpo. The reality is, these guys are few and very, very, very far between. The majority of the players you scout will never step foot in an NBA locker room. Oh, and if they do, you’d better hope your investigative skills and the intel you received was accurate enough to know the ins and out of this individual and his family and life situation.

I think the majority of people in this world think of College Scouts when they imagine what an NBA scout does. Travel the country watching the hottest names in college basketball. Follow the guys that lead their team in the box scores you glimpse at. That’s correct, but there is so much more to it. What about the 6’10 freshman with a wingspan of 7’4 sitting on the bench of a perennial power? How about that guy in Montana annihilating opponents? Ever thought about team culture and how important having good people and leaders are? Yeah, well you’d better watch guys with those traits too. Remember the guy that just locked down but didn’t fill it up on the offensive end? Oh, you’d better make sure you watch him.

Most people can watch a player and have an opinion, but training your eye to recognize what will translate to the next level matters. Is there a player out there who may not be ready for the NBA now, but someone your team should consider drafting and stashing overseas, or in the D-League, to develop for a few years? Of course you will pour over hours and hours of film, but seeing a prospect in front of you in person is completely different.

Let’s talk about how scouts approach watching players in person. Different scouts have different approaches to this. Some like to show up to the game, watch, and then go home and write up their reports, while others like to jot down notes as the action is going on. I’ve done both, and have found an approach that works best for me. It’s critical to not just slide into your seat for a 7:30 tip-off as the ball is thrown in the air. Get to the gym early and observe. This is one of the times where you may pick up critical information. Is the player you’re watching goofing around and taking shots that he will never take in a game? How does he approach warming up? Is he locked in? Is his mind and body all over the place? What about seeing just how he looks? Does he have a frame that can add muscle, or will he always be that lanky, 6’3 guy with calves that resemble pogo sticks?

You’d better not just watch the play on the court. Watch the demeanor of a player when an opponent scores on him, when a teammate doesn’t provide that help on defense when they should, when their coach chews into them, when they pick up their teammates and respond positively. How about when a timeout is called? Yeah, you better see if they listen to their coach, or if they are thinking about the best party after the game, or if that girl in row 15 has a boyfriend.

Ever thought about if this person could handle a large sum of money being suddenly injected into their lives? Well, you’d better do your homework. College scouts are in the business of information gathering. You’d be surprised what you can learn about a player by speaking with an arena security guard or someone that player may have let his guard down to.

Ever wonder who evaluates the players in the NBA and the D-League? Well, it isn’t just the General Manager. Welcome to the role of Pro Personnel Scouts. These are the guys who are heavily involved in preparing information for trades and free agency. They focus specifically on players already in the NBA and D-League. Pro Personnel Scouts are there to support the GM in not only giving their views on a player, but also to gather information. They can often be found at the arena hours before a game tips off watching players trickle out of the locker room to warm up. You’d better make sure to see that guy who isn’t going to get one minute of game time. What if a trade comes up with said person’s involvement and you don’t have an opinion? Not exactly an ideal situation to be in. These are often the scouts that have deep relationships with coaches, front office personnel, and fellow colleagues, as information is vital in making a correct decision.

Now to a position I have a ton of love for, Advance Scouts. Having held various roles in basketball, this is arguably the most grueling position out there. I personally think you have to be a little crazy to do this job. These are the guys who focus on the X’s and 0’s of the game. Does your team play San Antonio in five games? Well, chances are you’re watching the Spurs play and dissecting their actions, play calls, and tendencies. Good luck ever watching a game the same way after having held this role. To this day, I struggle to not dissect actions when I am watching a game. Instead of seeing that amazing shot, I’m looking at what actions led to that shot.

An advance scout is essentially an extension of the coaching staff. While watching a game, your job is to watch what Greg Popovich is motioning. Did an assistant just give a hand signal? You’d better write that down. Did Tony Parker just yell out a play call or motion in a specific manner that may indicate a play signal? Write that down. Oh, and when the Spurs score on an action, you’d better identify what led to it and be able to report back with a name for this play. You basically have to block out any of the exciting areas of the game day environment, and the game itself, to succeed at this job. P.S. after the game is over you usually rush back to your hotel and re-watch parts of the game where you missed an action or call, as the TV microphones often pick up on something you couldn’t at the game. Time to spend a few hours writing up your report and sending it back to the staff before you sleep for three hours, pack up, and head off to the airport for the next city.

The NBA never stops and neither does your work as a scout. Every team wants to win and bring glory to their city and fans. As a scout, you do the little things, which may never directly result in an impact on your organization, or a team’s game plan. You scour the country and globe for talent-making sacrifices that are borderline insane. You work hours that are often a bit off the wall. Your support system better be solid, because this type of work can tear people and relationships up. Scout life is about time management. Scout life is about gathering information and studying your craft. Passion is what connects us all as scouts and members of the basketball community.

Scout life…

 

 

www.groundzerotraining.com

Get To Know GZT: An Interview with Ground Zero Training's Tim Anderson and Jason Benadretti

After a very busy summer, Ground Zero Training Founder and CEO, Tim Anderson, and Executive V.P. and Director of Basketball Operations, Jason Benadretti, sat down for an in depth interview.

 

Q: Tell us a little about your background.

Tim Anderson:
I grew up in the inner city of Chicago and used basketball as a way to not only get out of an undesirable living situation, but also to get myself an education. Growing up in a tough neighborhood can shape someone, but it can also break them too, and I’ve seen so many people go down the wrong path. I’ve lost family and friends to the wrong things, but I was very fortunate to have some great mentors to help guide me in the right direction.

Jason Benadretti:
Tim and I arguably have some of the biggest differences in upbringing and environment, but some very real similarities too. I grew up in Irvine, CA, which is ranked as one of the safest cities in the country year after year. As the son of African immigrants, I was brought up with a very real perspective on life and a sound appreciation for cultural differences. And, just like Tim, I was fortunate to use basketball to obtain a degree. This game is a major driving force in so many of my life experiences.

Nike's "The Trip" team after their win over the Bahamas. The team consisting of 13 of the nation's top prospects was coached by GZT's Tim Anderson, 5 Time NBA champion/LA Lakers Associate Head Coach Brian Shaw, NBA Champion Rasheed Wallace, and 1997 NCAA Tournament Champion and Most Outstanding Player Miles Simon

Nike's "The Trip" team after their win over the Bahamas. The team consisting of 13 of the nation's top prospects was coached by GZT's Tim Anderson, 5 Time NBA champion/LA Lakers Associate Head Coach Brian Shaw, NBA Champion Rasheed Wallace, and 1997 NCAA Tournament Champion and Most Outstanding Player Miles Simon

 

Q. How did you get into player development?

TA:
My path has been a winding one for sure, but one that has always placed player development and relationships at its core. Growing up, I attended one of the toughest, and most talented schools in the country, Crane High School, where I played alongside NBA players, Tony Allen, and my brother, Will Bynum. Even at a young age, I had a passion for increasing skill development in others and made an effort to train players. After I finished playing in college at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, I played semi-pro ball and then jumped right into coaching. I coached at the HS, JUCO, D2, and D1 levels, where I was always in charge of the player development programs. Watching my players improve as the days went on was a motivating factor for me, and that was really what drove me to start Ground Zero Training.

JB: 
My path has undoubtedly taken some twists and turns as the years have gone on. I was an average player, with a passion and hunger for the game that was off the charts. After college, I jumped head first into the coaching world, very eager to blaze a path forward. I spent some time working in the college ranks at the JUCO, NAIA, and D1 levels. That then led to an opportunity working as a scout in the NBA. Through it all, I constantly had the desire to help players improve their game. That desire reached a new level during my time spent scouting, as it was the first time I didn’t have the opportunity to make an impact on the outcome of a game. This made me really analyze player strengths and weaknesses, and I found myself more eager than ever to help players take it to a new level. When the opportunity came to help Tim build up GZT, I jumped right on it. I’m very fortunate to do what I do today. Working with someone I consider family, and some of the top basketball players in the world is special, and special should never be taken for granted.

 

Q. Is there credence to the old saying, “players don’t care what you know until they know you care?”

TA:
That saying couldn’t be more true and it’s what we base Ground Zero Training off of. Our goal is to help every single player improve their skills as well as help each one move onto the next phase of his or her life. The relationships we develop in the gym, and off the court, last a lifetime. This is family.

GZT's Tim Anderson with NBA Veteran Will Bynum

GZT's Tim Anderson with NBA Veteran Will Bynum

Q. Why the name Ground Zero Training?

JB:
There are two things that really went into the name. First off, we are at the epicenter of player development. In the last three NBA Drafts we have had 15 players drafted with 10 of those being 1st Round Picks. Beyond that, multiple players have signed NBA contracts. Just look at what guys like Sean Kilpatrick, Marshall Plumlee, and Kyle Wiltjer have recently done. Going from undrafted to signing multi-year contracts. That’s just at the NBA level too. We’ve been fortunate to be a part of the process for so many players who have secured professional contracts overseas, college scholarships, and even improved their standing at the high school and youth levels. The second thing that went into the name is huge – GZT was shaped by our backgrounds. We want to show everyone that there is a way out of any situation through hard work and refusing to settle for anything less than your best. To this day, I’m extremely proud of what Ground Zero Training stands for and represents.

GZT's Jason Benadretti at the end of a group workout

GZT's Jason Benadretti at the end of a group workout

Q. What does a typical day consist of for GZT with your NBA players?

TA:
Each day is a bit different and it really depends on whether our players are in season or out of season. First off, you need to treat each player as his or her own mold. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and at GZT we aim to improve both of those areas every single day. That doesn’t just go for the players we train, but for the staff as well. We are big believers in film study, as the tape usually doesn’t lie. We need our NBA and professional clients to be able to continue to improve at a level that is so cutthroat. During the off-season, our NBA guys often go through a skill development workout, a shooting workout, and depending on the players and the timing, 3-on-3, 4-on-4, or 5-on-5, where we are able to institute certain NBA aspects a player might see in a game. We are available 24 hours a day to our guys. The fight to be at the top is so intense, and sometimes you find yourself having to go at it a bit with some of the guys in order for them to just get some rest. It’s not rare for Will Bynum or Jabari Parker to call at 3:00 or 4:00am and want to get a workout in. I know I can speak for Jason about this too – we feel the highs and lows of our players’ performances. If a guy has a bad night, we may get a call or text asking to come in and lend a hand, or to give him some feedback. So we’re constantly trying to balance trusting the process and figuring out what can be done to help our guys.

GZT clients Will Bynum, Charles Matthews, and Tyler Ulis during a recent off-season workout

GZT clients Will Bynum, Charles Matthews, and Tyler Ulis during a recent off-season workout

Q. Is there anywhere you won’t go to help a client?

JB:
Not really. Like Tim said, we are essentially on call for our guys. This is what we do and we want to make sure everyone has their best chance to be successful at their respective level. We don’t just serve them domestically, but internationally as well. Tim has previously spent months in China with Will Bynum, and Yi Jianlian when they were with the Guangdong Southern Tigers, and today both players are back in the NBA. I personally just returned from Colombia where I spent a few weeks helping a pro team, Aguilas de Tunja, get ready for their season. You never really know who is going to need you, and when, but we are always more than willing to do what is necessary to help our clients.

GZT recently traveled to Tunja, Colombia to help prepare the professional team, Aguilas de Tunja, for their upcoming season

GZT recently traveled to Tunja, Colombia to help prepare the professional team, Aguilas de Tunja, for their upcoming season

Q. What’s next for GZT?

TA:
We’re looking to expand our brand even further. People have to realize that nothing is more important than your reputation and name, so we have purposely passed on some opportunities and built GZT to what it is today in a very deliberate manner. We’re at a point where we do feel comfortable looking into some expansion opportunities now. This is definitely an exciting time for GZT and we look forward to the future as well.

GZT Logo

Ryan Boatright Signs In China

Ground Zero Member Ryan Boatright

Ground Zero Member Ryan Boatright

Ground Zero Training's Ryan Boatright has signed a contract with the Foshan Long-Lions in China! Adding another impressive stop to the resume, Ryan will relish the chance to be a tough nosed leader. Boatright is sure to become a fan favorite, as they will get an opportunity to see his fast and aggressive attacking style of play. Best of luck to Ryan as he continues the next step in a great career! 

 

www.groundzerotraining.com

Jabari Parker & Doug McDermott Represent USA Basketball

Jabari Parker and Doug McDermott were selected to represent USA Basketball in Las Vegas, Nevada during the Team USA Training Camp. Both Jabari and Doug were a part of a very competitive group on the USA Select Team. Being members of USA Basketball has always been a huge point of pride for these two, and getting the opportunity to push the Olympic Team will go a great way towards helping the USA finish with big result in Rio. We look forward to seeing both of them continue their great offseason as we inch closer to the start of the 2016-2017 NBA schedule!

2016 NBA Draft

2016 Ground Zero Training NBA Draft Picks

2016 Ground Zero Training NBA Draft Picks

The 2016 NBA Draft was a fantastic night for the Ground Zero Training family yielding huge success. Five players were drafted by NBA teams and multiple players signed contracts with NBA teams immediately following the NBA Draft. All in all 11/11 of the 2016 Ground Zero Pre-Draft Family have been presented with opportunities to put on one of those NBA uniforms.  

1st Round:
-Wade Baldwin- Memphis Grizzlies

2nd Round:
-Tyler Ulis- Phoenix Suns
-Demetrius Jackson- Boston Celtics
-Jake Layman- Portland Trailblazers
-Joel Bolomboy-Utah Jazz

Signed NBA Contracts:
-Kyle Wiltjer-Houston Rockets
-Marshall Plumlee- New York Knicks
-Perry Ellis- Dallas Mavericks
-David Walker- Miami Heat
-Maodo Lo- Philadelphia 76ers
-Tre Demps- Chicago Bulls

Congrats to the entire crew! Always and forever family!

-Ground Zero Training

 

www.groundzerotraining.com