Some of the best young basketball players in the Los Angeles area train with California Supreme. Photo by Jason Lewis
At California Supreme practice sessions, athletes enhance their abilities by playing against other highly skilled players. Photo by Jason Lewis
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
This past Sunday in Gardena Serra High School's gym, there were high school kids soaring above the rim, aggressively driving to the basket, and nailing outside jump shots. They were some of the best young players in the area, and each of them were trying to shine, while several other athletes were on the side of the court, waiting for their chance to prove themselves.
Practice sessions like this one is where the best basketball players separates themselves from the pack. These are the kids who get the college scholarships and have a chance to make it to the NBA. These are the kids who are putting in the extra work that will allow them to dominate the players who simply workout with their high school team.
There are many kids walking around high school and middle school campuses who have certain physical traits that make them decent basketball players. Many of these kids will do well on their school's team, or at the local parks. But for the players who want to get to the next level, which is college basketball, or the highest level, which is the NBA, they are going to need a lot more than the coaching they receive at their schools or at the local parks.
Athletes who desire to make it to the next level need programs that will hone their skills, and allow them to compete against the best in their area. They also need a program that can promote their talents.
One of those programs is California Supreme, which has coaches with college and NBA experience, and they have helped a number of players make it to the college and NBA level, such as Darius Morris (Windward High School, Michigan, Los Angeles Lakers), Jeremy Taylor (Atlanta Hawks), Dwayne Polee Jr. (Westchester High School, San Diego State), Solomon Hill (Fairfax High School, Arizona), Jacob Hazzard (Loyola High School, Arizona), Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State), Justin Cobbs (Bishop Montgomery High School, Cal), Keala King (Mater Dei High School, Long Beach State), and Gary Franklin Jr. (Mater Dei High School, Baylor).
California Supreme has travel basketball teams, with about 75 kids in their program. They also have weekend training sessions at local gyms, where players can compete against the best. Any good high school player can dominate his or her teammates in practice, but at the sessions that California Supreme hosts, it is the best against the best, and that is where athletes get better.
Gary Franklin, who played basketball and football at Dorsey High School, and played pro basketball overseas, founded the program nine years ago. He wanted to give local athletes extra training on top of what they were getting from their high school or park teams, and he saw where coaching was lacking on those teams.
"I think that playing in the park leagues and at the local YMCAs, it's just the level of talent is not there," Franklin said. "The structure of competition, because there is not a lot of practice time, there is not a lot of skill development going on, there are a lot of volunteer (coaches), maybe a dad or brother coaching the team."
Those same issues exists on the high school level, where coaches have limited resources, and many assistant coaches are volunteers. Franklin and his fellow coaches at California Supreme fill in the gaps that high school coaches cannot, with the goal of getting past high school basketball.
"There are guys here who are trying to get to the next level," Franklin said. "So as a coach, you have to prepare yourself in terms of the proper training, understanding the athlete, the kid's mentality in terms of where they are and where they want to get to. And most of all I think that what we provide outside of the training is exposure."
Exposure for a high school athlete can be the difference in being recruited. Many college coaches cannot get out to high school basketball games. Partly because of the college basketball schedule. And partly because it is not the best use of their time to go to one high school game to see one or two players. With programs such as California Supreme, college coaches can see a collection of talent at their practice sessions or in the tournaments that they play in. This is during the college basketball offseason, so coaches can easily attend.
Franklin and his coaching staff develop players so that they have an opportunity to make it to the college level.
"We're able to see what it looks like from a college standpoint of where guys need to be," Franklin said. "We can see some of the guys' raw talent, their athleticism, their size, and seeing where they are, and we can figure out how to hone that into becoming an elite college basketball player. That's what we build here at California Supreme."
Programs such as California Supreme work around the high school basketball season, so they have the athletes in the spring and summer for the most part. Franklin has good relationships with the local high school coaches to ensure that the athlete can obtain the best guidance possible.
The results that Franklin has seen in the athletes that he has coached have been amazing.
"We've seen a lot of kids who have come in, and they may be short and scrawny, but they come in and they work really hard," Franklin said. "They're getting stronger and more athletic, then all of a sudden they grow three or four inches. Now you have a player."
Through hard work, determination, and the help with programs such as California Supreme, young basketball players can get to the next level.
For more information about California Supreme, visit their website at www.californiasupremebball.net.