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I have been writing down & collecting X’s & O’s & drills since I was 14 years old. I am now 45. I used to record every game on TV to my VHS (Yes, that dates me a bit) & I’d re-watch those games repeatedly while jotting down every play that I could. I never knew why back then except that I used it as a player to improve my basketball IQ. I was always fascinated by the X's & O's of the game on both the offensive & defensive ends of the floor!
Growing up, I was a HUGE “Showtime” Lakers fan! Magic Johnson was my idol. The way he controlled the game, his basketball IQ, his leadership, & of course, the showtime no-look passes & style of play also drew me to him. These were all characteristics that I took from him just from watching him throughout his whole career. It transferred over to the way I played and even to this day in how I coach. I was lucky enough to attend his basketball camp the year before he announced he had HIV. I won his free throw competition and the 3-point competition out of everybody at the entire camp. I even got to play 1-on-1 against him. It was a memory I will never forget.
I went back to my High School with a ton of confidence. I had a decent senior season making 1st team all-league at a small school while averaging close to 20 PPG, 5 RPG, & 5 APG. I attended a Junior College briefly before dropping out to start a business at 19 years old.
I thought that my basketball days were all done until a friend called me up one day & asked me if I wanted to help him coach a High School Freshman team. I had been away from the game for four years at this point & I was really just doing what young 23-year-old kids do at the time. So, I was a bit skeptical. I never thought I could get the same feeling as a coach as I did when I was a player, so I wasn’t sure how I would feel about coaching, but I accepted anyway.
I immediately went scrambling to find all of my old drills & plays that I had saved from when I was 14-19. I went to Barnes & Noble & bought every basketball book that I could. I searched the web & printed anything I could find & I started my DVD collection. My coaching career had officially begun, even though I had no idea where it would end up taking me.
This changed my life trajectory & boy, was I wrong about not getting the same competitive feeling as I did when I was a player! I had more joy watching my players & teams execute what I taught them than when I was playing. Seeing them succeed both on & off the court was such a rewarding feeling that only a coach can understand.
I coached a few years at the High School level before being introduced and asked to coach a local AAU team back in 2007-2008. I had no clue about AAU back then. It was an eye-opener, to say the least. I got to coach a team full of All-Stars & play against teams full of their individual schools' best players. It was a higher level of basketball as players had more talent & higher basketball IQ’s. This was right up my alley as I knew coaching these types of players would be more beneficial for both me & the players.
What I quickly found out was what most people already know. The AAU coaching wasn’t that great as a whole. What the players were learning wasn’t adequate in my mind either. AAU gets a bad rap, but some of it is well deserved.
I immediately decided to open up & start my own program. It was called Seattle Pride. This was my program to do things the way I wanted to do them. The way I thought a program should be run from the ground up. I had to get organized quickly and find a way to transfer my vision to the parents, coaches, & players. Before I knew it, we were off & rolling. In the 1st season as a program, we had eight teams.
My program philosophy was to put a focus on player skill development and to improve the player’s basketball IQs. I was not the coach to just roll the ball out & let them play. We had 3-4 practices per week instead of 2 like most other programs. We focused on skill work every practice & we made sure that every player was improving during the summer & going back to their schools a better player. I created a system, a playbook, & terminology that all of our coaches & players could understand. This helped as our younger teams & players came up through our program or when they would watch our older teams play. It gave everyone familiarity.
We ran plays, we executed, & we were winning games & tournaments. I made sure that they were running plays, offenses, & learning different defensive coverages that would immediately put them ahead of other players. This was going to prepare them for the next level, wherever that may be. We were never the most talented team & we never had the best players, but we won & we won a ton while playing the right way. It became very common for our younger players to play Varsity immediately & in College as freshmen because of their high Basketball IQ’s alone.
Every year the program continued to grow & we started to get more & more players from all over the place. I would consistently get the “We have watched you coach, & we love how your team’s play & we want to be apart of it.” I even had quite a few players that would drive 2 ½ hours a few times every week just to practice with us. We were winning a ton of tournaments just by playing team basketball (YES, we are still talking about team basketball within AAU). This can be done! That’s on the coach!
I started to recruit players, and I began to get extremely selective in my tryout process when forming teams. I didn’t need the best players. I wanted players who played hard, had high basketball IQ’s, & played with passion. Obviously, we also wanted athletes, skill, & size as well, but I needed coachable players to accomplish what we wanted to achieve. What we ended up creating was a culture within our program.
All of this led up to our 2016 season, where we had a two year run with a team that I walked up from the beginning of Seattle Pride. Every year I added a little bit to this team. They were extraordinarily unselfish & one of those special team’s a coach loves to coach! They worked hard, loved each other, and rooted for one another, & no one ever missed a practice or a game.
This consistent dedication, discipline, & perseverance led us to go 5-0 in Vegas & to win a championship as 16U’s. That wasn’t it though; we stayed for another Vegas tournament that I am sure every coach knows, the Big Foot Hoops Classic. We went 4-0 before losing in the sweet 16 to Team Melo (Carmelo Anthony’s AAU Team) in Overtime (a bad call in regulation cost us a win at the buzzer). I may or may not still be a bit bitter from this game J This team went 9-1 in Vegas over seven days, and their only loss was an OT thriller out of hundreds of teams.
That loss stuck with me for a long time, but the players had let it go the next day as we took them to a waterpark to have some fun. That helped the team & myself to forget about it briefly. We also wanted to reward them & thank them for an amazing week of basketball.
Going into the next season, I was determined to add to my coaching. I knew we had a chance the following year to be even better. I got to work immediately on improving as a coach! As coaches, we ask our players to improve in the off-season, so as coaches, I believe we should do the same. If you are a coach who thinks you know it all, then it’s probably a good idea you hang up the whistle. Too many coaches get complacent or set in their ways. I believe if you are not growing, then you are dying. You should be trying to take from anyone and everyone that you can. My motto was that even if I took one thing from a $40.00 DVD to me, it was well worth the $40.00 I spent.
The next season began (now 17U’s), and we started off slow. We didn’t play to our expectations or our potential early in the season. We were not playing the unselfish basketball that led us to success the year before. Every night I would rack my brain & try & find new ways to get through to this team. We added a few new pieces to the team that we needed to mesh with our returning group. As a coach, I am never too worried about the early season & I can always see the end goal in my sights. The goal is always to have my team playing the best basketball at the end of the season. I think part of the problem early was the players felt the pressure of being in their last year of AAU & they felt the pressure of trying to receive an offer. What they didn’t realize though, is playing selfishly & trying to get theirs had the opposite effect on them & what they were trying to achieve.
Anyways, this team was no different than the team the season before. They came around at the right time. We started off in Anaheim, where we went 4-1 losing in the sweet 16 again to a tough team. We were then immediately off to Vegas. We had no time to focus on the loss, and we had to move on to the next play. We were in a top 4 pool in Vegas (Usually, the top 8 pools are loaded with the best teams in the country to assure high-level games). We had a big win in our pool against a top 5 program nationally when we went up against Cal Supreme & DeAndre Ayton’s team, where 60 coaches were in attendance. After that, our confidence was sky-high & we went on to make a run to the championship, where we lost a nail-biter after stringing off five wins in a row.
This was another tough loss that stuck with me for a while, but once again, the team let it go immediately & to help them forget the tough loss in the championship game, we got them a suite & took them to see team USA at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Again, we wanted to reward them for a great week of basketball & a fun season.
That championship game stuck with me for a while, as the way that we lost was unusual. I had never had a game like this one in my career. In AAU, there is no shot clock. The team we played had 3 outstanding & extremely fast guards. They spread the floor into 4 corners. When I say 4 corners, they were literally at the corners almost out of bounds. There were 2 players at half court, and the other 3 were all along the baseline. There was also no 5-second count. They would just dribble at half court until you got up to pressure them. Then & only then would they start to attack. If we played good defense, they just retreated back & dribbled until you would pressure them again.
They would have their guards at half court and dribble penetrate & then kick if help came. We fell down early. Keep in mind this was our 4th game of the day. So, I put us in a zone to slow the game down & conserve some energy. They stayed at half court & we had 3 minutes of rest while they dribbled at half-court stalling. I tried everything in this game. We ran a 1-3-1, we trapped, & we then started to press & then we had a big run to tie the game. They ended up going up 4 points with a few minutes left. They were continuing to stall. I was sending doubles, but their spacing was such that it was just having us run around & getting tired. I eventually had to play the foul game.
The point of this story is the way that we lost had me baffled in how to defend this type of offense. I couldn’t wait to get back home & start researching some things to find the answers to how to defend this. This game in itself sent me on a journey that off-season to find a solution (which I eventually ended up finding). I was determined never to let that happen again. Coaches should always be looking for ways to improve at their craft. We should always have the solution & answers for our team. If we don’t have them, then we need to search for them & continue to learn & grow.
This team helped elevate my coaching. I didn’t want to be the reason these guys were not successful. I was determined not to let them down & I did everything I could to learn as much as I could to further my coaching knowledge. Little did I know how this was all going to set the tone for the next four years of my life. They made me a better coach & in return, I made them better players. That’s what coaching is all about.
That was an outstanding & special team & they had an incredible run over a 2-3 year span. We ended up sending five players on that team to the next level. They went on to schools like the University of Washington, Oregon State University, Montana, Northwest University, & Point Loma. We also had another player who went on to play football at the University of Idaho.
On top of all of that, I had a coach who was recruiting one of my players who requested a meeting with me & immediately asked me to join his staff at Northwest University. He enjoyed the way our teams played & how we won games with less talent.
Let this be a lesson to all the young coaches & players out there. You never know who is watching you & what opportunities will present themselves. All you can do is be prepared for the opportunity when that time comes. You must realize that everything that you do is a direct representation of you as a coach & it is your resume. I took this all the way down to our pre-game warm-ups. You have never seen a team warm-up like us.
One thing I failed to mention earlier was that I also had a daughter about 4-5 years into Seattle Pride & her name is Isabella. She loved coming to my practices and watching daddy coach & working on her jump stop passes. Occasionally, I would even let her blow the whistle and get the guys going. For ten years in a row, I had my birthday at my basketball practice. She would bring me a cake in between my practices.
I am sure a lot of coaches can understand this when I say that I was spending more time with other people’s kids than I was my own. Especially after accepting the Northwest University position as I was now working two full-time jobs. I had my AAU business & I was now coaching at Northwest University as well.
Fast forward 31 years & I have now been coaching basketball for over 20+ years at both the High School & Collegiate levels. I decided, though, that it was time for a break. I wanted to spend some more time with my daughter & watch her grow up. So, I made a tough decision to stop my AAU program as well as my coaching at Northwest University.
It was an extremely tough decision! I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. One thing that I did know right away was that I was going to take the time to really break down some film, study the game, and really analyze everything as I had the time to do that now for the first time in a long time. I started watching every game on TV again (except now I was recording them on the DVR instead of the VCR), and I then started to break down all of my favorite coaches by watching synergy games non-stop. I began to look for the recent trends & quickly started to see how much the game has changed over the more recent years. I immediately saw some new ways that I could add to my playbook & take advantage of these new hard to guard concepts.
I then decided to redo my entire playbook & drill book. I wanted to be ultra-organized! One problem most coaches have is we aren’t the most organized people in the world. I bet we all have boxes full of chicken scratch of X’s & O’s in our closets. Well, I decided to take the time to dig everything out of those boxes & enter everything I had over 40 years of playing & coaching, including all of the drills & plays that I had gathered over the years. I finally decided to get organized by putting them all into my Fast Draw account. It took me two years of 10-12 hours a day to get everything entered into Fast Draw & write all the frame descriptions. No joke & no exaggeration!
I started searching around online for some new playbooks and fell for a few. I was always left disappointed after I received them. There would be a few plays I could take, but it was mostly full of fluff, not much material, no descriptions for the frames, & no drills that went with the offenses to help coaches teach the offense. Coaches were instead left to ad-lib & try & figure out how to teach the offense to their team. I would get a play that I liked, but it came with no counters. I wanted a series of plays that I could run consecutively without the defense being able to figure out what we were doing.
I immediately knew that what I had just created was necessary & it was something that every coach at any level could benefit from. I could help coaches learn, I could help coaches grow, I could help coaches get organized, & I could help coaches solve a problem.
I get it though most coaches want to keep things close to their vest. We don’t like to share our secrets with anyone. That’s our edge! That’s our hard work and all the time & money over the course of a career that we spent that was earned & not given. It’s like sharing grandma’s secret sauce.
Coaches teach what they know as they should, but what if coaches knew more? What if it wasn’t so hard to find useful information? What if you could get a book that was given to you in a way where you didn’t need to fit pieces of a puzzle together afterward? Would the game look different? Would we have better coaching? Would we have better basketball games at all levels?
People ask me - “Aren’t you afraid of giving away all your secrets?”
No, not at all. The name of the main books is called Unscoutable for a reason. Think of the NBA Playoffs or the NBA Finals and a 7-game series. Both teams know what the other team is going to run. Both teams have been scouted all year long. The difference is in the adjustments that each team & coach make from game to game as well as the execution of the players.
I also have four reasons why it doesn’t matter at all.
Number 1 – You would have to scout us thoroughly even to be able to know everything that we run offensively & defensively.
Number 2 – You would waste all your time in practices leading up to the game on preparing for us.
Number 3 – Even if you know how to defend a specific action, that’s fine. We will just call a counter-play that now takes advantage of the way you are playing us defensively.
Number 4 – We have numerous different Series that we might not even run for 4-5 games, but we are practicing it on a daily basis. We just wait to use it at the right time, depending on how the defense is playing us.
So, long story short, no, I am not worried. There are far too many options for me & my team to use to counter anything that you wish to try to do to us defensively.
So, this leads me to the question I get asked the most...
Why did you create this & why are you sharing all of this?
Are you an underdog? Is your team outmatched on a regular basis? How can you compete with teams who are better than you? More athletic than you? This was one of the main reasons I wrote these books. Over the course of my career, I was in this same boat. I used this exact library of plays along with all of the defenses paired with my philosophy to help me even the playing field. This allowed us to stay in games that we had no business in being in as well as winning games that we should have never won.
Over 20 years ago, when I first got into coaching, I searched for anything & everything that I could find online & offline. I ended up with a lot of books, a few old DVDs, but more frustration than anything. I was left disappointed as what I was looking for didn’t exist. I found a few gems here and there, but they were more miscellaneous plays I had to throw together and more of a mixed bag than anything.
Fast forward 20 years, and there is a ton of info out there, but only in small specific areas that you have to dig around for it to find it. One thing is certain there is NOTHING like this out there. I wanted to create a book (3 books actually - Offense, Defense, & Drill Book) that had everything in it. A place where coaches could go and find anything that they needed or wanted. Not just a money play, but a Series with numerous plays within it where they could choose from, and that was all within the same alignments. A place coaches could go & get everything that they wanted all within one playbook and spot—no more piecing things together—a one-stop-shop of sorts for basketball coaches. A place that coaches could go and immediately learn any given offense, learn multiple counters, as well as give them the drills to teach the offense as well. A place they knew that they could trust & not feel disappointed in what they just paid for.
Too often, I would go to games (High School & College) and see teams running basic actions with no counters to how the defense was playing them. I then realized that coaches didn’t know or have the tools to make these types of adjustments. They knew the basic continuity of an offense, but they didn’t have any specific counter-plays that utilized their team’s strengths. They couldn’t get their star post player touches, let alone a touch without the defense being able to key in on him & double the post immediately.
I also noticed that coaches didn’t have any entry plays that disguised what they wanted to get into through false motions. Combine that with running no BLOB & SLOB entry plays that could seamlessly flow right into their continuity offenses. These in themselves can help take a team to the next level. The better question is, why don’t we see these things?
I have spent $10,000.00 on coaching DVD’s, I have spent $10,000.00 on coaching clinics, I have spent probably $1,000.00 or more on coaching books, & lastly, I have spent tens of thousands of hours over the years collecting plays, drills, watching film, & watching games. That is a lot of money & a lot of time that most coaches just don’t have.
So, here we are, and I am sharing it all. All the money & all the time I have spent over my entire career is made available for you for a fraction of the price. I want to help grow the game. I want to pay it forward. I want a coach, just like me, 20 years ago, to have a place to go when he is hungry to learn. A place where a coach can find everything that he needs to be successful in his first year of coaching. It shouldn’t take $20,000.00 & thousands of hours to learn how to coach basketball & find what you want!
Why should I believe that you are the best guy to create this?
As I previously mentioned, I have been collecting X’s & O’s since I was 14 years old. I have made it my life’s work to study the game of basketball & the greatest coaches & minds to do it. I have either been playing, coaching, or studying the game for the last 40 years. While at Northwest University, I was also scouting & breaking down film (X’s & O’s) on our opponents.
I have been a head coach in over 700 basketball games. In addition, I have also coached in close to 100 games as an assistant coach. I have a winning percentage of over .800% throughout my career and not because we had more talent than the other team, but because in almost every game that we played, we were outmatched. I have tried these plays against the top competition in the nation. These plays, series, defenses, & drills will help even the playing field.
Over the last two years, I have studied the game non-stop. It took me over two years to write these books & my goal is to help all coaches at all levels & help grow the game. I have spent more time researching plays & drills over the years than probably most coaches combined. My question is, rather, is there any better guy to create this?
All of this all leads to My Mission
Coach Vann’s mission is to guide modern-day coaches all over the world, that need direction, focus, opportunity, & resources in achieving an efficient, competitive, and result-oriented plan.
Coach Vann utilizes his unique skills of inspiring, motivating, transferring his knowledge, and lifetimes worth of work to the world by putting in the effort by providing playbooks with numerous efficient drills and plays that can help benefit and teach all coaches at all levels.
By focusing on leadership, Coach Vann strives to spread his ideas and experiences to inspire countless coaches worldwide to believe in themselves and help them achieve their goals. He brings innovation, tools, skillset, and resources to coaches through his dynamic style to aim high and impact their gameplay.
The motivation behind starting Next Play Hoops is to motivate coaches to step beyond their limitations and equip them with the tools that will help teach them to create and become Champions. Coach Vann believes that every coach has the capacity and capability to exceed their goals, and his mission is to provide ample resources to those coaches in uplifting their game.
Coach Vann has dedicated his life to the game that brought him so much joy for all these years. Next Play Hoops is one way of transferring all the knowledge and delivering it out there in the world to pay it forward so that every coach can prosper.
This is where I can help you! My passion is to use the tools & everything that I have learned over the years to help coaches strive to achieve their goals!