Zack Rosen discusses waking up to find out that his NBA draft trainer Mike Dunlap was hired to be the head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, his workouts with the Phoenix Suns and Detroit Pistons, finding a niche in the NBA, the Art of Fielding, and more.
You never know what will happen in life.
Just two weeks ago, Coach Mike Dunlap was preparing us for our upcoming NBA workouts. He was coaching Kyle and I with mid-season intensity, making frequent references to the differences of the NBA game and informing us of how we will have to adjust at the next level. Well, as of Monday night, he'll be providing all his knowledge, energy, and passion to a new bunch of players- the Charlotte Bobcats. I've only known him for a couple of months, but in those months we got to know each other pretty well and I can tell you there's not a more deserving coach in the world than that guy. Good move MJ.
Speaking of those workouts, I've been to two more places, Phoenix and Detroit, and both were incredible learning experiences. Both organizations are professional in every sense of the word, and both gave me some good insight. I attended one of the most challenging universities in the world over the past four years and my mind hasn't gotten a workout like the one it got in Phoenix in a long long time.
The mental tests that team doctors put us through were unique and caused us to think and think hard. They were testing for learning capability and cognitive processes and all the players agreed that it was difficult. In addition to the testing, meeting and working out with Lindsey Hunter was another highlight of my time with the Suns. He locked up full court every night, something you rarely see in the league nowadays, and his grit was enjoyable. Oh yeah, throwing lobs to Fab Melo off pick and rolls wasn't bad either.
In Detroit, I had the opportunity to meet long-time strength and conditioning specialist Arnie Kander. Arnie has probably forgotten more abut how the body works than most people will ever know. I've always sought out ways to gain any advantage possible and he was able to provide some new information in the way of nutrition, body movements and patterns, and even ball handling.
After the workout, I spoke with Coach Lawrence Frank on the phone. When I was a senior at St. Benedict's, Coach Frank was with the Nets and he was one of the speakers at our annual coach's clinic. The man lectured for over an hour on the flat ball screen- different ways of changing the angle, multiple calls for defensive coverages, attacking it with the dribble, attacking it with the slip, and on and on. I still have my notes from that day and Coach Frank was someone I admired because of his almost impossible route in the game of basketball. To hear him say he really enjoys the way I play the game was an honor, regardless of what happens.
I will visit three more teams, Chicago, Sacramento, and Minnesota, and then my workouts will be complete. Fran Fraschilla tweeted the other day that, “Combines, workouts, interviews with teams & media all nice but real resume for potential draft picks is how they PLAYED during their career.” We'll find out if he's right or not on the 28th.
An interesting thing about the NBA is that it all comes down to specialization. Basically, there are a couple of guys – maybe one per team – who do it all. After that, there might be some more star power, but for most guys, it's one or two things that they do exceptionally well. So a player who is great at one thing is more valuable to an NBA squad than a player who is pretty good at a lot of things but great at nothing. For me, teams seem to think that my feel for the game, vision, and shot making ability are my greatest strengths. My ability to recognize the right play and make that play time and time again is what will separate me (at least in their eyes) from most other guys. It's something that I could be “great” at.
I'm currently reading The Art of Fielding. The main character, Henry Skrimshander, is an undersized, weak, small-college shortstop who has simply worked his way from a nobody into the nation's best defensive player at his position and one heck of a hitter as well.
Agents and others start voicing his name in conversation for the MLB draft after his junior year and Henry doesn't know what to do or think. He mentions it to his best friend on the team and mentor, Mike Schwartz.
Schwartz's response to Henry's worry, concern, and anxiety is simply dead on. “This is what we've been working toward for the past four years… so the key is to stick to the plan. You can't control the draft. And if you can't control it, it's not worth your time. You can only control how hard you work today.” Well put Mike Schwartz. Easier said than done, but definitely hit the nail on the head.
I'll be back with more right before draft night. Thanks for following, thanks for all the support, and remember, if you can't control it, it's not worth your time.
Zack Rosen discusses his two NBA workouts thus far in Philadelphia and New Jersey, the value of the private workout setting and their role in the decision making process, his relationship with his high school coach Danny Hurley, and more.
I have a great relationship with my high school coach, Danny Hurley. We rarely go a week without a phone call or text and a couple days ago he reached out with a message. “Zack, you just gotta be relentless. No matter what, good day, bad day, just wake up and be relentless.” Perfect timing coach.
With NBA teams holding their pre-draft workouts, guys have opportunities to present themselves in small settings to coaching staffs, management, and scouts alike. All you can really do is make the most of the opportunities that you do get to play in front of these people.
Some situations are conducive to your style and strengths; others aren't. Sometimes you'll have a good workout; sometimes you won't. The key is to stay grounded and, like any season, just keep pushing through. These next two months or so is now the time to really dig in and be, as Coach Hurley said, relentless.
The real question here is what do all of these workouts mean and how much are they valued? Does everything you did in your four year college career just go out the window? Fortunately, your performance in college does carry some weight. One of the 76ers executives told me in my interview that if teams have waited for a sixty minute workout in May or June to evaluate a player then they aren't really doing their job. So the good news is that Synergy and live evaluations do hold up and tell executives a lot about what they want to know.
The other component, though, is that these workouts might be the first or second live look that teams have of me because I played at a non-BCS school. These workouts are a great platform to display my competitiveness, leadership, and work ethic.
I have participated in two workouts to this point and I've learned a fair share from both. The Nets/Rockets combine, which was held at the Nets practice facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey, was nice because we got a chance to play 5 on 5. There was some skill work, some 1 on 1, and a lot of controlled 5 on 5 scrimmages.
All 30 teams were represented and there were a lot of familiar faces. Former Duke star Chris Carrawell gave me some poignant coaching points and for me, the combine was interesting because in the testing, I ran the fastest ¾ court sprint time. I thought I wasn't athletic? (Insert shoutout to Jim Ferris here- my guy)
I also worked out for the 76ers. Our group was Scott Machado, Maalik Wayns, Terrell Stoglin, and myself. We tested again and were on the court for about an hour doing some shooting drills and a lot of 1 on 1. Scotty Mac was a high school teammate of mine and Maalik and I have gone at it for the past three years in Big 5 matchups. All three guys were at the New Jersey workout, so again a lot of familiarity. The workout went well and wearing a real Sixers jersey someday would be a dream come true.
Other than these two workouts, I am scheduled to visit some other teams in the month of June. Phoenix on the 12th, Detroit on the 15th, and Sacramento on the 24th are the knowns. We are waiting on dates from Atlanta, Chicago, Indiana, and New York.
It's an exciting time and while there's a lot of uncertainty, there's just so much to be thankful for. Bottom line here is that there's a chance. And when there's a chance, there's hope. I'm just going to go to any workout I have and as my man Kim English likes to say, “Show ‘em my Ace.”
Kim was in Philly on Tuesday because he worked out for the Sixers on Wednesday. He wanted to stay sharp so I picked him up from the hotel and we got some shooting and 1 on 1 in at the Cathedral. Kim is a straight gym rat like myself and dude just loves to put in work. We've known each other since high school and it's been a pleasure to follow his progress. He's now reaping all of the rewards of his hard work. Guy is a soldier and he's someone who really deserves it.
Speaking of guys who love to put in work, I left Philly Wednesday morning for Queens, New York, to do a mini-camp of sorts with Kyle Fogg and two former Johnnies, Justin Burrell and Paris Horne. I've had the extreme privilege to meet and get to know coach Mike Dunlap through his relationship with our assistant coach Dan Leibovitz and my agent Leon Rose, and it was his idea to bring us together during this time when we need to be on top of our games.
So Coach Dunlap is leading the show and over the next few days we will be working our tails off. I've gotten to know Kyle a little bit over the past month or so and he's an extremely hard worker and gifted athlete. Paris and I actually played AAU together in high school and we all always knew he had a serious motor and that he was gifted. And the guy Burrell looks like he was chiseled out of granite.
There will probably be some other guys who mix in over the course of the week here and it's awesome because it's a great group of guys and every waking minute is one of learning and growth with Coach Dunlap. Teacher supreme.
That's all for now. June promises to be an exhilarating month leading up to the draft on the 28th when a lot of players' lifetime dreams will be realized. I'll be back with an update soon but until then, go out there and be relentless!!!
Yesterday I walked in the 256th Commencement of the University of Pennsylvania. While a majority of the guys going through this draft process have vacated their respective schools to train at select spots throughout the country, I decided to stay here in Philly so I'd be present to walk in my graduation. The four years that I've spent at Penn have really shaped who I am as a person and I thought it extremely important to go out with the people who influenced me and shaped my perspective- classmates, professors, teammates, administrators, and religious figures alike. So a special shout out to all of the people who made my experience at the place that Ben Franklin founded an extremely special and rewarding one. You know who you are. Thank you.
Graduation has been a time of excitement and celebration, but I've been grinding on the hardwood. I've been spending long hours in the gym getting my work in and honing my skills. My roommate and I have been playing a ton of 1 on 1 and as a lot of our opponents over the last four years can attest to, there aren't many guys in the country (I don't care where it is or what level) who can guard like Rob Belcore. The guy looks like a football player and he can barely get over a piece of paper but dude has some serious toughness, exceptional anticipation, and a will like no other. So we play one dribble games from the elbows, two dribble games from the wings and top, and then some live dribble games, and we beat each other up for an hour or so. The games are ultra-competitive and I'll leave the results out of this…
Also in the way of training, a new tool has come into the repertoire for me and that is Synergy Sports Technology (Synergy). Synergy is used by almost everyone in the professional basketball ranks and it's the most comprehensive game footage tool out there. You can literally watch all clips of any college or NBA player in any situation.
I've been living on the thing for the past two weeks, specifically watching Steve Nash in pick and rolls, Goran Dragic and Jose Juan Barea in isolation plays, and Kirk Hinrich and Ray Allen in spot up situations. You can learn so much from the film and in addition to watching some of the pros, I have watched all of my footage from this season. While my game has really evolved throughout my college career, I'm so excited for the next level because there's a lot of areas in which I can improve. The intricacies. The little tricks. Now that basketball is the only thing I really have to focus on, I'll be able to get that much better on a daily basis. Thank you Synergy!
In the absence of schoolwork and exams, I've had the opportunity to catch up on some personal reading and go back to some books I really love. I'm big on giving and making those around you, in every walk of life, better. With that, I'd like to share some of the books that have drastically impacted my life in the hope that you might pick them up and get to reading.
Seth Hauben, a former Division 3 All-American and a teammate of mine in the Maccabi Games three summers ago, suggested that when we got home from Israel I pick up Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. Great call Seth. The book is the story of a Navy SEAL who is the only survivor of a mission in Afghanistan and it provides true insight into the military and America's approach to war. Lone Survivor is probably the best book I've ever read.
Uncommon by Tony Dungy is another one of my favorites. My teammate and role model Dau Jok lent it to me two years ago and I haven't managed to give it back. Coach Dungy's message is simple: you have a purpose in this life that is divine and you must be willing to be different. In order to truly fulfill your destiny, you must go left when everyone else is going right and dare to be an uncommon man.
Lastly, The Winner Within by Pat Riley is a classic and a great selection for anyone trying to harness their inner competitor. A main takeaway from Riley is his opinion of sympathy, stating that sympathy is like junk food- it has no real nourishment.
Riles' Rule on Beating the Sympathy Syndrome is: “Giving yourself permission to lose guarantees a loss. If you don't steel yourself to other people's sympathy, you cheat yourself and your team. Shoulda, coulda, and woulda won't get it done. In attacking adversity, only a positive attitude, alertness, and regrouping to basics can launch a comeback.” These three selections should get you started. If you're interested in some additional titles, hit me on twitter.
Aside from attending graduation, staying in Philly has meant I can catch the 76ers playoff run. Last week, when Andre Iguodala hit those two free throws to advance the Sixers into the second round of the playoffs, I was so damn happy for the guy. He takes an exorbitant amount of criticism in this city and people simply hate on him.
Sitting in the second row at the Wells Fargo Center that night, witnessing the place standing and applauding the team with special recognition of Iggy's efforts, it was just a special moment for a star athlete. I was at the game with my agent and his family and we stuck around afterwards to chat. I saw a lot of familiar faces and as we were walking out, Sixers assistant coach Brian James grabbed me and congratulated me on a great season. He pointed out to the court, looked me in the eye and said, “Hey man, you can do it. This NBA thing is for you.”
Zack Rosen walks us through his preparation for NBA workouts, focusing on both his off-court routine (strength and conditioning, plyometrics, yoga, mental strategy) and his on-court skill-work.
Jim Ferris is a master of the body. We meet six days a week, and with class and all, the times vary but we try to stick to the AM or early afternoon. He comes in the Palestra with a big bag of contraptions, and I just show up ready to work.
His designs require using muscles I didn't even know existed and my movement patterns have really improved in a short period of time. We do three total body lifts a week and then throw in three different types of plyometric workouts.
To give you a better idea of what I'm working on, here are three of the specific workouts:
Monday is for straight-away speed and jumping. Wednesday focuses on lateral movement and jumping. And Friday is a combination, centered on transitional running and jumping.
We also mix in my favorite, yoga, when we can. I try to get to yoga at least once a week. My mom's a yoga instructor and so I kind of grew up with the practice. Yoga helps me to relax and to really tune in to my body and mind, aligning everything in an hour and a half of pure concentration.
It didn't take long for me to realize as a kid that I didn't have the genetic advantages of the other great players that grew up with. But from a very early age in my life, I have had coaches and people around me who have made it clear: if I want to be successful and close the gap, I better get out there and work my butt off.
I remember how, when I was in high school at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, New Jersey, coach Danny Hurley kicked me out of practice. Kicked me out! It wasn't rare for him to send guys home, but in my case he said it was because I was slacking and that I wasn't focused. Thanks coach…
Psychological tactic or not, I came back the next day with a vengeance and just took it to another level. I feed off that stuff. Ask anyone who knows me and the first thing they'll probably mention is my extreme capacity for work. I go like crazy and I'm constantly looking for ways to improve because I understand that the only shot I have at rising to the top of the basketball world is to outwork everybody.
With that, I've been working extremely hard in preparation for the NBA individual workouts. My day usually consists of an hour and half of skill work, and hour and a half of competition (one on one, three on three, five on five) and either a weight room or agility/movement session.
In the skill session, whether on my own, or with Mike Penberthy, Mike Lintulahti, Coach Lebo, or Coach Allen, I work on a variety of skills, shots, and situations. I do a lot of catch and shoot from deep, creative shots off the dribble into the paint, and pick and roll scenarios from both wings and in the middle.
I also do a series of fast break transition looks, getting it all the way to the rim and pulling up from both foul line area and from range. One of the things I've been working on diligently is a floater. I've never really had a floater in my game but it's a necessity for all small guards who want to play in the league to be able to get into the paint and float it up right over the closing 7-footer.
There are a number of guys who I work out with and who I've come to know over the years in Philly, but I've been blessed that Sean Singletary has been around and working out this past month or so. We have developed a great relationship and he's a hell of a competitor. We play a lot of 1 on 1- dude is a tough cover and he challenges my lateral quickness. I try to find a 5 on 5 game either here at Penn with my teammates or over at Temple.
But basketball is not just a physical game. The mechanics of anything can be figured out by anyone. I think you can teach yourself to hit that deep three – sure, everyone's learning curve is different, but it is attainable. But I'm a big believer in what Tony Robbins professes: everything in life is 80% mental and 20% physical.
I like to say that I'm half-Buddhist. I started to realize that around my sophomore year when I began meeting with a professor on campus. Keith Weigelt teaches strategy here at the Wharton School of Business and he has been instrumental in shaping my mental approach to the game.
Keith has convinced me to take a long look at Eastern Philosophy. Together we've read and analyzed The Art of War by Sun Tzu and The Book of Five Rings by Musashi.
Basically, we determine to maintain the “normal mind” in all situations. We try to limit any variance in our state of mind so that our results will be consistent. The elimination of value judgments and the commitment that you will never, ever get discouraged are paramount to adopting this way of thinking. As Keith professes, “I will always believe in myself because I know that I work hard and that I'm prepared.”
A lot of this mental strategy is about detaching from the results and simply focusing on the process. In that vain, I'm totally immersed in the process of improving my game. I'm just trying to gain small victories every single day. Inch by inch.
Wherever it all leads me (the NBA, or somewhere else), I'll know that I have done my best. And hey, what more can you do than your best?
I'm new and lonely on the Twitter scene, so follow me @ZRoze1 for some updates and pictures as I continue on this journey. Catch you next time.
Welcome, welcome, welcome! My name is Zack Rosen and I'd like to thank you all for allowing me to take you on this journey. This is a pretty exciting time for me and I'm grateful for the opportunity to share my experiences with you. I'm a graduating senior from the Wharton School of Business and last season my play earned me Ivy League and Big 5 Player of the Year honors. Unfortunately, we fell just short of making the NCAA Tournament (and the taste is still bitter) but my individual efforts earned me an invite to the 60th annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament and that's where we find ourselves now.
From April 11th-14th, 64 of the top seniors in college basketball gathered in Portsmouth, Virginia, with hopes of making a lasting impression on the NBA representatives in attendance. Portsmouth is viewed as a potential springboard for the majority of the guys here, some of whom are considered borderline second rounders. The idea is to play well and use this as a springboard for your stock as a player. The field is typically loaded with talent, and this year is no different. Most college basketball fans would recognize the names participating, mine being one of the less familiar because we never made the tourney and the Ivy League is not a BCS conference.
As far as the actual play at Portsmouth, I wanted to come down here with a plan. In these types of settings, there's usually bad shot selection and an absence of unselfishness. I knew I could fill a void by picking my guy up full court, displaying leadership, and making the right play on the offensive side of the ball. For a guy like me, I have to overcome so many obstacles and infinite doubt because of my size and “lack of athleticism”. In order to do this thing, I am going to have to convince teams over and over again that I belong. Portsmouth was a good first step for me in terms of garnering some more belief, but it was the first of many more to come over the next two months.
Our team, comprised of some guys I knew prior to the event like Truck Bryant from West Virginia and Rakim Sanders from Fairfield, and some I had never heard of like Cameron Moore of UAB and Laron Dendy of Middle Tennessee, struggled a bit to build chemistry and find a rhythm. In our first two games, we were right there at the half and then let one run halfway through the second half kill our chances of a W.
We definitely played hard and guys attempted to play together but we struggled to feed off of each other's strengths and we didn't gang rebound on the defensive side, stifling our chances of converting easy transition buckets- a key to winning in this style of play. Overall, I hope the guys enjoyed the experience and even though we lost, I hope we all found joy in competing.
I was thoroughly impressed with Rakim. We played against each other in high school and I knew right then and there that he was a great player. St. Benedict's beat St. Andrew's at the PrimeTime Shootout in Trenton, NJ, but Rakim straight up killed us. Fast forward four years and he's doing the same things down here that he did to us in high school. Dude is a flat out scorer and matchup problem. He plays above the rim and he can post smaller defenders. On the other side, he can guard one through three and he even defended some opposing fours in this tournament when we went small. Rakim was a joy to do battle with and I wish him and all my other teammates (and peers) nothing but the best in the future.
Personally I'd like to thank everyone involved who puts Portsmouth together and sacrifices some time in his or her life to make it the great event that it is. Just WOW. The people who run the event are top notch, the volunteers are incredible, and the community is 100 percent behind the event. There are little kids constantly running around asking guys for anything they can get their hands on, from autographs to sneakers. There are local fans who have been attending the play at Churchland High year after year who really appreciate the game and who thank us for participating.
And there are representatives from every NBA organization with an eye on the games, hoping to learn just a little something more that they didn't know before. Again, thank you for creating this opportunity for young men like myself to climb one rung higher on the ladder that is the NBA dream.
That's all for now. I'll be back soon with some insight into the training process and all of the hard work that goes into getting a leg up on the competition. Later!