CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Former North Carolina and longtime NBA guard Jerry Stackhouse is participating in the coaching development program at the NBA Players Association camp:
Q: What are you doing here in terms of trying to get involved in coaching?
A: I'm looking into the next phase of my career, trying to see if coaching is maybe something I want to do. I've obviously been playing for the last 30 years. I feel like I have a real knowledge of basketball. I',m just trying to transition that from playing to trying to help kids improve and obviously try to win games at the same time. It's been a great experience. I've learned so much in two days from Brendan Suhr, a guy who has 40 years of basketball under his belt. He's teaching us here what it takes to be an assistant coach.
I think a head coach is more like a CEO that kind of runs everything. The assistant coach is the guy who takes some of the burden off of him, and we're learning to do that. At the same time it's an opportunity to rub elbows with some of these young kids who are going to be the future of college basketball as well as the future of our league. So this is exciting to be able to share with them. I think they're like sponges right now. They just want to soak up everything that they can and hopefully with the experiences and things I've done over the last 15 years as a pro, I can share that with them and help them.
Q: What do you try to tell them?
A: How hard it is. You don't want to discourage them, but it takes a work ethic. And everybody's talented. Everybody here can jump up and dunk a basketball and have an unbelievable body. And it's going to be even more so when you get to the next level in college. Everybody that you see is going to be at this camp. How are you going to separate yourself? The only way you can separate yourself is by coming in and working on your game, taking everything you can from here. You've got professional, NBA players that their least amount of years is eight years. You've got eight or more years of experience here. So use these guys, use us to try to learn as much as you can to get to the level that you're trying to attain, and I think they're doing that. Every time I turn around I have somebody trying to take me one on one or beat me one on one, but that's part of it. At the same stage I was doing the same thing, because that's the only way you can test yourself, by going against better players. And I'm glad they still consider me a better player.
Q: Did you go to a camp like this coming up through the ranks?
A: I went to Nike camp. Nike camp had the top players in the country. They used to do it up in Indiana, and it was a great experience. I came out of the camp the No. 1 or No. 2 player in a lot of publications, and it gave me a lot of confidence. I felt like you had the top talent in the country, and some of the top publications and basketball gurus were saying you were the top player out of that, you just ride that momentum and ride that confidence. You had to look at it, whether you were No. 1, I was fortunate to be considered in the top five in anybody's. You've got to use it as motivation. If you're 30th, you say, 'Hey, I'm top 30 in the country.' You use all of this stuff for confidence. Basketball is always about confidence. There’s nothing like seeing the ball go through the hoop, and when you can come to places like that and see kids from all across the country and show that you have the ability and skills to compete with them, then I really have a chance, and all I have to do is continue to stay on the right course and continue to get better. And you can have a chance to really put on an NBA uniform some day.
Q: What's it like for you to be able to give back to these kids who are hoping to be where you're at some day?
A: It feels good, but at the same time getting out of the player's shoe and jumping into the coach's shoe is totally different. We had a workshop today where we kind of went over the scouting report. I've taken the walk throughs and scouting reports for granted for 20 years. And now that I had to do one today, I realize how hard it is to remember the play and know where everybody has to be. But it was a great experience. Once I did it, I felt like I could do it again. Those are the things you just don't realize until you start doing it.
Q: You've got a future Carolina guy on your team, P.J. Hairston. What do you think of him as a player, and do y'all do some Carolina talk?
A: He's so talented. And things come a little easy for him. That's where he has to make sure that he still puts in that work ethic and keeps up that effort and desire. He’s at the point right now where even at a top 100 camp, he stands out. So you can't get complacent. You've got to think that there are probably 20 kids who aren't here who are at USA Basketball, so he has to have a mind set that even though I'm doing really well at this camp, 20 of the best in the country aren't here so I've got to still improve, and I've got to get better than them.
And hopefully he'll take on that. But I love the fact that he's a North Carolina kid. And the other kid, Deuce [Bello], from High Point, I'm excited that even some of the young kids, the rising sophomores, the kid from Upper Room, North Carolina's on the map, and we're going to try to stay there.
Q: What's it like for you being back in ACC country in Charlottesville? I know you never got a chance to play in this venue here.
A: It's really nice. We played at the other building. It's great. This is the only other place I visited was UVa, that I took an official visit to. And I almost came here. But I wnet down to visit North Carolina, and I couldn't tell Dean Smith no. So that's why I went to North Carolina.