Editor’s Note: In the world of prep sports, there really is no “summer vacation” anymore. Student-athletes are busy with off-season training, camps and club teams. The same holds true for many coaches. You’d be hard-pressed to find an area high school coach who had a busier summer than Corey Frazier, who already had a full plate. The former Saint Louis University Billiken who went to a pair of NCAA tournaments as a player has since transitioned into a fixture on the sidelines as a state championship winning coach at Maplewood-Richmond Heights, along with his ownership of the WITTS Training Academy.
This spring, he was named head coach of the Nike-sponsored St. Louis Eagles 17U AAU program to succeed Corey Tate, who joined Kim Anderson’s staff at the University of Missouri. The Eagles boast some of the most recognized basketball talent in St. Louis and around the country, with the likes of Jayson Tatum, Xavier Sneed, and Tyler Cook on the roster.
In his first STL Preps blog, Frazier writes about his “calling for the summer of 2015”, his role as a coach in the recruiting process and balancing his AAU and high school roles.
Prior to coaching 17U, years ago, I had also coached some of the well-known students during their earlier years. Those players included Jayson Tatum, Christian Willis, Xavier Sneed, Jordan Barnes and Will Gladson. I had always been in some way involved in the program, even if it was just attending various games or training some of the players, so I was excited to step in to and embrace this new role.
My main focus when beginning this program was to get back to some of our original methods and practices. First and foremost, we focused on becoming a defensive minded unit and team. To win games, our defense had to be our strongest attribute. During practice these young men decided they had a goal in mind, and this was to win Peach Jam. As a result of all of them reaching this commonality and mindset, they worked exceptionally hard and left their hearts on the court at every single practice. The practices became highly competitive (in a positive, productive way) and we continued to focus on conditioning throughout the summer. We also spent an ample amount of time building our chemistry and working on our offense techniques. We wanted to get this muscle memory in our heads so that during tournaments and games, our movements became natural and fluid. This was executed during Peach Jam and they performed exceptionally. Our community is beyond proud of them.
I’ve played many roles during my career as a coach; you put on a lot of different hats both on and off-season. Ultimately though, a common misconception is that as coaches we direct our players on where they should attend post-secondary education, this is not exactly the case. Decisions such as this should be made between the student athlete and their parent or guardian; they know what will suit their situation best. I do though, always offer three key points of advice when guiding my students and their families on their decisions after high school.
1. They have to pinpoint what their goals are academically and what they want to study. That needs to be their starting point when picking a college or university. Ask yourself, does this school offer educational programs that suit my needs and interests.
2. The student has to become familiar with the coach and a key question they must ask themselves is “Can I play for this coach, in this environment and with this team.” The answer has to be yes, to ensure a pleasant experience.
3. This is something that should not be overlooked. The player needs to research the environment of the support system at the school of their choice. They need to inquire and observe how the college’s program supports them after college depending on what their decision is. If they want to play a professional sport they need to see if the college will help them get to that point. If they want to enter the workforce they need to examine the graduation rate and the percentage of students who are successfully able to find jobs after graduation.
If these steps are followed I truly believe that it will help these boys make the best decision for them.
Often times I am asked how do I balance coaching a high school team along with an AAU team. The answer is first of all very simple in the respect that the seasons are completely different so it makes for a better way to manage my time. Also, with the AAU team it is comprised of a very selected group of athletes, the best from St. Louis and surrounding areas. So, with them they are already for the most part trained, we just have to work on how we move as a team.
My experience with the Eagles has been beyond rewarding. One of my favorite points to tell people when I talk about the Eagles is that this organization is not about money. A lot of times people can’t grasp that concept. The Eagles are all about the student athlete and all of the coaches and staff embrace this mentality as well, it is truly phenomenal how our focus has always been and will always be on the student. I want to leave the audience knowing one thing, the best is definitely yet to come for St. Louis sports, my hopes and dreams are that as time progresses all stakeholders will fluently work together for the benefit of our youth and that all students will succeed no matter what program, school or organization they participate in.